The puffy eyes of Lindsay Lohan. The deadened eyes of James Deen. The frozen faces of the forever tan. Vast and elegant interiors as two-dimensional as they appear in lifestyle magazines—the very same houses rented out for pornography shoots, by homeowners who then watch the DVDs. Breasts unnaturally aloft. Breasts held aloft by naught but youth and hubris. Penises precisely half-erect.
A camera that moves with the stealth of surveillance drones, shooting from the distance of surveillance drones. The discomfort of this. Shots from behind ferns and from balustrades, in the piercing flat light. Cars. Lots of cars. It is Los Angeles. The cars look as if they will penetrate every elegant interior.
A straight man oiled up for the gay male gaze and photographed over and over and over. The same straight man admonishing a gay man that the gay man wants his penis. The repetition of this. The actor playing that straight man expressing his discomfort by appearing to have a small but irrevocable stroke. A straight woman telling two straight men to fuck. The straight men doing this.
A man discussing how he sets up "assignations" using his smartphone. Explaining that assignations are "meetings, bro." The discomfort of this. A twosome on a couch while a stranger masturbates. The stranger joining in, or not joining in. A foursome upstairs, après-pool.
Empty people. Empty Los Angeles people with empty sex and empty joyless glamour and limitless money. Empty people popularized separately by Bret Easton Ellis and Paul Schrader in the early 1980s, now popularized by Bret Easton Ellis and Paul Schrader together in the last year of the tweens.
They are unhappy. They are all unhappy. They will kill for this unhappiness.
The death of movies, or the sordid downfall of movies. Gus Van Sant playing the psychiatrist of a trust-fund movie producer. Lindsay Lohan stiltedly asking a woman whether she really likes movies anymore, whether she goes to them in the theaters for fun.
James Deen using his one facial expression, a raised eyebrow and a pursed lip. James Deen emoting by tilting his head. Lindsay Lohan looking as if she has had a rough night, every night, for the entire film.
The discomfort of this. The discomfort of this.
Critic's Grade: D
SEE IT: The Canyons opens Friday at the Hollywood Theatre.