Archive for September 16th, 2014

Trust Fund Psycho

The Canyons

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Director: Paul Schrader

Cast: Lindsay Lohan, James Deen, Nolan Funk, Gus van Sant, Amanda Brooks, Tenille Houston

American Gigolo and Autofocus director Paul Schrader teams up with American Psycho writer Brett Easton Ellis in this Fringe psycho sexual thriller The Canyons starring Mean Girls star Lindsay Lohan, who surprisingly holds her own in a film about movies, manipulation and malevolence.

The Canyons is not Paul Schrader’s best work but nor is it meant to be. It’s a rather low budget fringe film about a group of aspiring actors and producers in the less glamourized side of Los Angeles.

Porn star turned film actor James Deen turns in a suitably impressive performance as Trust Fund film producer and sexually ambivalent Christian who is dating Tara. Both of whom live in an isolated house in the Canyons on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Tara is secretly having an affair with an aspiring actor Ryan played by Nolan Funk who is willing to go to any lengths to get a role especially with the mostly gay producers he is hired by.

It’s a sexy and dangerous menage-a-trois revolving Christian who has some serious daddy issues (he is forced to go and see a psychologist played by Drugstore Cowboy director, Gus Van Sant); Tara, the sunbathing ubiquitous Lindsay Lohan and Ryan who is hot property on the casting couch. Ryan is desperate to break into the low budget film world and due to financial constraints is easily manipulated by the wealthy and sociopathic Christian.

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The fact that Tara and Christian are swingers also adds to some exceptionally explicit sex scenes with themselves and several anonymous strangers giving Schrader a chance to objectify the male body onscreen as opposed to the usual Hollywood norm of objectifying the female form. Schrader has done this before in American Gigolo in what was to become Richard Gere’s breakout role especially his infamous full frontal nude scene with the glamourous socialite played by Lauren Hutton.

Unfortunately the script by Easton Ellis is not as witty or incisive as his hit novel American Psycho about corporate greed in the late 1980’s in Manhattan.

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The Canyons suffers from a lazy narrative populated by some lacklustre characters who all seem to be chasing after the elusive dream of Hollywood fame. Paul Schrader’s direction starts off promising with some opening shots of abandoned movie theatres in the more seedier parts of Los Angeles, signifying the death of cinema but soon loses momentum much like the narrative which is punctuated with gratuitous nudity and one especially violent murder.

The acting leaves much to be desired with possibly Lohan and Deen doing their best while Canadian actor  and Versace model Nolan Funk needs loads of thespian encouragement. Amanda Brooks and Tenille Houston also star as the other sex sirens.

The Canyons is a C grade sexual thriller which could have been so much more impressive had Schrader taken the film up to the level of his brilliant Washington social comedy The Walker. Recommended for those that like Lindsay Lohan, full frontal nudity and a deglamourized view of the City of Angels.

 

 

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