Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Loose Lumps Sink Dumps

Writing Taxi Driver and Raging Bull probably gives Paul Schrader a lifetime's pass with some critics, and that's fine - we all have our weaknesses. For example yesterday over at The Film Experience when I wrote up how another Paul - Rudnick, specifically - was the writer of Annette Bening's possible new HBO show I only mentioned how he'd written Addams Family Values and ignored Isn't She Great and the Stepford Wives remake, amid other travesties. That's basically the gay version of the Paul Schrader thing. And when I expressed bafflement about that giant catfish horror movie Beneath last week it was all due to the director being Larry Fessenden - we can't help but look at the new projects of old talents through the gauzy haze their previous works pile over them.

That said I really can't summon the courage to twist myself up as pretzel-ish as needed to make heads or tails out of the slog that is The Canyons - at a certain point you've knotted up your own common sense, and your upstairs has migrated inside your downstairs but good. Flat and imbecilic, The Canyons is a chore in every sense. I can see an argument somewhere, murky and distant, about how plopping an actual tangible effort by the worn-down likes of Lindsay Lohan against a chattering wall of defiantly-terrible-everything-else and summoning up themes of The End of Cinematic Meaningfulness against it invites queries of existential nature - what does it mean for hopelessness to gin up something, even something so rabid and desperate as all this, against hope? And where are my cigarettes? - I just don't have it in me.

That is to say, Linds gives it the ol' college try, and man it's depressing. Schrader's camera centers her and her flailing about, smashing herself into the porn miasma she's found herself in, determined to rub off on anything and everything, and not leaving a mark (the scuzz is too deep). James Deen, as a walking penis, gets the penis part good. But I knew we were in trouble when early on he was called upon to walk from one side of a sidewalk up to a doorway and I couldn't buy even that from him. There's an entire scene in Synechdoche New York about actors attempting to walk naturally, which came to mind - "People don't walk like that." But that's as close to Charlie Kaufman as this thing comes. Somebody's gonna claim "meta" for this malarkey, but it just don't add up.

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