The Canyons Is, Not Suprisingly, No East Of Eden: A Review

What do you get when you combine heralded writers Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, American Gigolo) and Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho)? A masterpiece, right? The original city symphony teaser trailer certainly suggested as much. Most everyone, including myself, expected a dark film saturated with deep, multi-layered characters, a provocative script and a dickload of Chateau Marmont. However, the actual film featured none of those things.

Instead, it plays out like the exposition of a soft-core porno, minus the eroticism that usually follows. The sound picks up the echoes of the empty, fake sets and the score was no more than elevator music. There were a bunch of awkward pauses during the dialogue due either to poor editing or the fact that the actors had to stop to remember their lines. I mean, I know they had a really low budget, but come on. Maybe you should steer clear of the director’s chair from now on and stick to writing awesome scripts, Paul.

Speaking of porn, the film stars none other than vagina gourmand James Deen. You may recognize Deen from such classics as Beef Eaters 2, Romantic Rectal Reaming, Mexicunts, Blow Me Sandwich 8, Titty Titty Bang Bang and, everyone’s favorite, The Da Vinci Load 2: Angels & Semen. Deen plays the lead, Christian, a manipulative, trust fund movie producer. It’s a shame really because you can tell he’s trying so hard nail to the role (no pun intended), but he’s simply terrible. Watching him try to play serious is like watching a little, uncoordinated kid play soccer. Come on buddy, you can do it! But he can’t. Eventually, he retires to the sideline where he can go back to chewing his shoelaces.

Somehow, the best performance belongs to Lindsay Lohan. Not that she was Meryl Streep or anything, but all the other actors were either morons or Gus Van Sant.

And then there are the sex scenes. Let me start by saying this, if I were able to go back in time and tell a teenaged version of myself that he’d have the chance to view a Lindsay Lohan sex scene later in his life, he’d faint instantly due to the blood rushing to his dong. The reality of the situation is much more disappointing.

Simply put, modern day Lohan looks like a leather purse. When she removes her clothing, all I can think is, “Listen, Lindsay, I’m flattered and all, but I’m set. Thanks, but no thanks, I guess.” There is even a Lohan-centric threesome or two, which is, incidentally, the plot of the sequel to The Parent Trap.

Maybe the credits were intended to roll: 'Written by Bret Easton Ellis’s 11-year-old nephew Travis who’s really into Jason Derulo and just found out what sex is.'

Throughout the film, Lindsay’s character is constantly being compared to the other two female stars. The men are constantly shitting on these women, acting like they're nothing compared to the immaculate Lohan. This would all be fine if it were not for the fact that the other two women are a thousand times hotter than he. Like, on no planet is Lindsay more attractive than these two Babe Vigodas. Maybe the script was written before Lohan decided to look like a 45-year-old chain smoking waitress from Denny’s named Maude.

That brings me to the script. You say Bret Easton Ellis wrote it, huh? The same Bret Easton Ellis that fucking wrote American Psycho? Not a chance. I can say, with total conviction, that there is a zero-percent chance that he actually wrote the screenplay. Maybe the credits were intended to roll: “Written by Bret Easton Ellis’s 11-year-old nephew Travis who’s really into Jason Derulo and just found out what sex is.”

I imagine the first draft of the script went something like this:

INT. SWEET-ASS MANSION—NIGHT

 James Deen looks fly as shit in his sunglasses. He's drinking alcohol and acting nonchalant as fuck.

  JAMES DEEN

Hey babe—wanna do sex?

 LINDSAY LOHAN

Does the Pope shit in the woods?

 They high-five. Linsday Lohan takes off her top. Her boobs are awesome.

Asylum from this complete train wreck comes in the form of, what I imagine was, an intentional Easter egg. About halfway through, one of the characters is walking through a video store. The camera tracks back to a row of DVDs and, just for a second, you can catch a glimpse of East of Eden. For those of you who don’t know, East of Eden is a film starring James Dean—the real James Dean—not the bizarro-world pornstar version.

It seems like Bret Easton Ellis is trying to, for lack of a better word and because I’m a huge tool, juxtapose the death of cinema with the death of traditional relationships. At one point in the film, Lohan asks her friend, “When was the last time you saw a movie in the theater? You know, a movie that really meant something to you?” She is, of course, referring to the fact that she hasn’t been happy with her many recent interpersonal liaisons. The film even starts with a montage of abandoned movie theaters and returns to them at the start of each subsequent chapter.

The central thesis amounts to this: Traditional relationships are simple, reliable and come with less confusion, like a person going to see a film in a movie theater, while modern, no rules relationships encompass things like sex with multiple partners, cheating, jealousy and manipulation using social media, result in something much less rewarding, like a cheap, lazy, low-quality movie you can view on your computer or smartphone. Stick that in your Intro to Film 101 professor's inbox and smoke it!

Ironically, I had to watch this movie on my laptop through an iTunes digital rental because it wasn’t playing anywhere around me. Maybe Bret Easton Ellis is secretly a genius and was planning this elaborate meta thematic scheme the entire time just to prove a point. Although, if so, it would be like like trying to prove to a five-year-old that fire hurts by covering yourself in lighter fluid and striking a match.

Four Pins Rating: 2/10 Big Sausage Pizzas

Matt Rimer is a writer living in Boston. Follow him on Twitter here.

  • queb

    If Chuck Palahniuk is the Christ figure for sexually confused and misanthropic frat bros then Ellis is the Holy Ghost. I still kinda want to see LiLo’s tits though even if they are leathery and worn-out.

  • http://phantomco.blogspot.com/ Deaunte Shugart

    I will always love Lindsay

    Balboa