THE CANYONS (2013, Paul Schrader)
Look, I get it. A bunch of vapid L.A. trust-fund babies talking about making a movie that will likely never get made (and suck if it does), nobody trusts each other and every hollow movie theater is run-down, mirroring the moral decay at the center of their identities. Ellis has been doing variations on that theme in his books for 25 years, and it comes across way better on the page because the characters — as amazingly shallow as they are — are still human. As acted by James Deen, Lindsay Lohan, and an entire cast of incompetent imbeciles, the ones at the center of this debacle are not. And that makes every single redundant scene, loaded with horrendous exposition, a slog. A few striking compositions aside, Schrader’s effort is disastrous, failing to grasp the tone of Ellis’s world, and for his own part, Ellis has failed to craft more than a handful of interesting lines. (Because even when the people are shallow in his books, the dialogue is not). Cinematography, editing, and especially the sound mix are horrifically incompetent — I haven’t heard audio this shoddy in a theatrical feature film maybe ever. There’s a lot you can read into the meta-levels of casting Lohan in this hate-letter to wasted potential, but you can’t give it points for trying when the effort is this full of shit.