Vancouver's Elysium intriguing, The Canyons and Lovelace lurid and creepy

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We see them through a young father who works as a driver for a congressman, transporting his daughter to school and, at night, young hookers back home. When his own daughter is grabbed by kidnappers who mistake her for the congressman’s girl, he’s forced to co-operate with them, and with the police and his boss, if he has any hope of getting her back.

That sets up a tense and unsettling back and forth. He has to appear to co-operate but not help anybody, especially the police who start to suspect and brutally interrogate him. It’s a complex tangle that doesn’t feel contrived, just intricate, and the direction by Ron Morales, who’s done smaller jobs on many Hollywood movies, keeps it clear and gripping. (Cinematheque)  3 ½ out of 5

The Cinematheque has also started its annual summer series of film noirs. Check their website:

THE CANYONS: Paul Schrader directed this from a script by Bret Easton Ellis with tabloid-fodder Lindsay Lohan in the lead. None of them are strangers to obsession which this film happens to be about. In a clumsy messy way. Lohan plays the girlfriend and sex-toy of a creepy movie producer, played by porn star James Deen.

He sets her up with sex-dates and in one infamous scene plays along with her in a foursome. Also in there is a young actor (played by Canadian Nolan Gerard Funk) who beds Lohan separately and drives the producer into fits of jealousy (which he earlier denied would happen) and to surveillance and abuse. That drives her to paranoia and us to chuckling at these lurid goings on.


Lohan is still a strong actor and almost makes this work. It’s the story, with its unrelenting cynicism, that undermines her. I’m not sure what Schrader is trying to say with the photos of shut-down movie houses at the beginning and at the start of each chapter. Is it nostalgia for what Hollywood used to be? Is he saying the good people are gone from the movie business and replaced by producers like this?

Look back into the book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, in which Schrader appears a lot, and you’ll see there’s nothing in this film that hasn’t always been there. Except that sex and masturbation are now caught with cell phone cameras and as someone says: “Nobody has a private life anymore.” A random attempt at contemporary commentary. (Rio on Broadway) 2 out of 5

LOVELACE:  A second film this week for connoisseurs of lurid behavior tells the story of the original Deep Throat and the man who both pimped her out and made her a star.

Amanda Seyfried stars as the woman who, as Linda Lovelace, starred in the notorious porn film that went mainstream back in 1972. Peter Sarsgaard stars as Chuck Traynor, her husband, Svengali and abuser. It’s a cautionary tale that belatedly and rather off-handedly advises women to take charge of their own lives.


Linda was controlled by a strict Catholic mother (played by of all people, Sharon Stone), then Chuck and ultimately, according to her autobiography, the mob. Once she broke free, she campaigned against pornography.

The film, by a couple of documentary makers, doesn’t tell the whole story, possibly to make her a sympathetic figure and focus on the message.  Seyfried portrays her has an innocent just going along with what she’s told to do.  Hank Azaria, (Gargamel in another current film) plays the film director (who even wrote a script, 42 pages) and James Franco shows up briefly as Hugh Hefner, to no great effect. The performances are good; the film is only so so.(Only one theatre: The Esplanade, North Vancouver) 2½ out of 5

Also now playing …

PERCY JACKSON Sea of Monsters:  According to Rick Riordan’s adolescent novels, the gods of Olympus also screwed around with ordinary humans down on earth. Therefore, there are demi-god descendants around, like Percy. This second film has him searching for the Golden Fleece in the Bermuda Triangle to save a tree and, incidentally, save the world from an ancient evil. It’s said to be a good fantasy adventure. I haven’t seen it. (International Village and many suburban theatres).  

NOTE: All images are movie stills provided by the studios. They are the exclusive property of their copyright owners.

More in New Movies

Two comedies about women at work and a stunning documentary about an Aboriginal artist lead this week

And they’re joined by a musical look back, a fashion industry success story that didn’t last and the hipster zombie film that opened Cannes this year

Two giant sequels and several worthy smaller films reviewed

Including new appreciations of Emily Dickinson and Pavarotti, the real story of auto builder John DeLorean, a British filmmaker inspired to draw on her own life and two oddball seniors falling in love

Doing it like Elton John, looking for justice in Canada, defying convention in Bollywood

Also Denys Arcand’s rant about the evils of money, a compassionate court dealing with sex trade workers and a series coming soon to showcase a celebrated woman filmmaker from France
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