The Canyons ★★★★

I have less than nothing of note to add to the (extremely) sage discourse surrounding this strange movie. But I will say this one glib thing:

My favourite shot in The Canyons – and this might actually be my favourite shot of any film this year – was the split second close-up of James Deen's feet when he forces the bedroom door open and it's revealed that he's wearing a pair of neon-trimmed AirMax. My knee-jerk reaction was hilarity, simply because I could not remember having ever seen a film that included a tightly-framed shot of ostentatious cross-training footwear. And in the context of stucco LA mini mansions with minimalist interiors and slick ice-white façades (AKA, Bret Easton Ellis' dream archive), this shot just jarred, beautifully so. Maybe Deen arrived on set wearing those shoes and nobody thought to change them, or maybe there wasn't the budget to change them? So they were left in as a throwaway piece of natural colour. Or maybe Schrader saw them and thought to play the shot as some morose, absurdist, revisionist gag that reframes the generic paranoid urban slasher-type as a perma-scowling gym bunny. It's such a lovely touch, and the moment you see it, you're given the opportunity to concoct your own back story. Deen's character had murder on his mind, but not before he'd bench-pressed the equivalent to a small RV. Or imagine if there was a deleted scene in which Deen was choosing what shoes to wear for the deed? Desert boots? Nah, too clumpy. Leather shoes? Nah, too cliché. This has got to be swift and clean. Trainers. Expensive ones, in case I need to sprint back to the car. You can imagine Deen as a runner, not a fighter. (If this reads like an attack, it's not. I liked the film very much.)

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