Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Canyons: Cinema twisted inside out for a new generation

I’ll start by saying that the production of this movie managed to avoid typical corporate routes in its release, allowing for a lower budget and unrestricted creative chaos. Those who knock this movie down as less than modern cinematic art, really have no idea what they are talking about, especially from the bad reviews I’ve read, conspicuously coming from misogynistic and sexually depraved or deprived reviewers. So that being said, this is an erotic journey into the darker side of film-making/success or as I prefer, a realistic portrayal of every day occurrences in this area of the world, Southern California.

Lindsay Lohan (in new bombshell form), keeps the flow moving at a feverish pace with a delicate balance of seductive apathy, provocative demeanor, and understated cynicism allowing for the character of Tara to be portrayed with incredible accuracy. Tara is Christian’s girlfriend, who is enjoying the spoils of a life provided by a trust funder with access to all things, which are inevitably the privileges that are used to control her. Control is a recurring theme. What does it actually mean, and who is at the helm? Is the illusion of letting another control you, control in itself? The portrayal of Christian, the surreal narcissist, is an eerie conjuring of an all too familiar personality we have all encountered. James Deen easily overshadows Christian Bale’s “Patrick Bateman”(from “American Psycho” another film adaptation of an Easton Ellis work) with his use of aloofness and staggered ominous gesturing that crawls under your skin.

Gina is Christian’s assistant and manages to land her struggling boyfriend, willing to do anything it takes, a part in a low budget film Christian is producing because he’s bored and his father wants him to have a “real job”, whatever that means in 2013. It turns out the boyfriend had a “thing” with Tara in the past that neither current partner knows about. Needless to say, this sets the groundwork for an otherworldly journey into modern voyeurism and lack of personal privacy that we so willingly give up to secure some type of acknowledgment or escape from past decisions that led into a mundane life of desperate, painful predictability. “I want someone to take care of me”, “We can have a house and live happily ever after”, yeah that’s nice but I have yet to see anything in the “real” world evolve into such a simple solution to the tragedy of life.

The Big Break, is it a low brow commercial for some household product? An internship for a studio or recording company that ultimately turns into running a concession stand for events. Not to mention, without a reciprocal payment for ability or creative services, what comes next? This is where the delusion and fairytale end and we are left with a pipe dream, not an attainable goal, but a vast emptiness that is filled with obsessive behavior and an unforgiving self-destructive existence. With this in mind, the nightmarish twist of events come to a very reasonable and gruesome ending.

Paul Schrader, of legendary directorial fame (“Hardcore” is a personal favorite of this reviewer), commands the lens using an open ended focus that envelops the suspect behavior with retro 1980s finesse, a deliberate superficiality. Those who have access and money in the world of Los Angeles either hustle for it, fuck for it, or they're born with it. Plain, simple, and very transparent under the flickering signs of promised fame. If you'd like to visit, this is the warning. An exceptional film that occupies its own territory. Indulge your dark fantasies and check this one out.

Kevin McGovern-Fear & Loathing in Long Beach