The Canyons Review

Posted 10 years ago by myetvmedia

The collaboration between Ellis and Schrader hits quite a few uncomfortable moments and the audience at this screening during the 70th Venice Film Festival, laughed at awkward and dark moments. More than just nervous laughter, the artifice of the characters just belies our emotional makeup. We don’t know how to react Ellis’ ‘dead’ and ‘cold’ characters. Not wanting to share in the character’s reactions, we twitter and fidget nervously in our theatre seat.

Schrader and Ellis set out to make this very type of film – against convention, not a pseudo ‘adult’ film, not a black comedy but with a cloud of nihilism that just floats above the narrative and is simply saying that this world, greasy, opportunistic, exploitive, emotionally brutal, exists — and maybe not just in Hollywood. In one very poignant scene, Christian, played with an eerie perfection by Adult film star James Deen, leaves Ryan (Nolan Funk) a message running him down with the typical film star wannabe story of coming to LA with an encouraging modelling shoot under your arm; having to be somebody completely other than yourself to get ahead; ‘take it in the ass’; anything to get a gig. Christian’s only sane and rational moment is his advice to Ryan delivered with an honest disdain, “go back to Michigan”. In other words, your are a sheep amongst wolves; but as it turns out, just as you begin to embrace Ryan you find there is only a thin, almost imperceptible moral line between him and Christian.

Schrader and Ellis are taking a lot flak for this film but the flak is probably more about the distasteful subject matter and not the film itself. Made for a rock bottom budget of $150,000, using unconventional methods, many will use this as an excuse for an apology. No apologies necessary, these guys have made a very good and honest film, irrespective of budget. It just doesn’t make you feel good.

Alfredo Romano

Watch the press conference here.

Shown at this year’s TIFF13 : Toronto International Film Festival and the 70th Venice Film Festival (La Biennale di Venezia)

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The Canyons Review

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