Tuesday, June 27, 2017

There's Air in the Canyon

If there's a feature length equivalent of a stock photo, it might be 2009's The Canyon. The story of a pretty couple from Chicago whose honeymoon in the Grand Canyon goes horribly wrong feels less like a proper movie and more like a test to see if some film equipment really can be used to make a whole film.

Nick (Eion Bailey) and Lori (Yvonne Strahowski) show up expecting to be able to buy some mules and plunge off into adventure only to learn they need a permit for which they needed to have applied six months earlier. Consoling themselves in a shady bar, they run into a grubby guide named Henry (Will Patton) who offers to get them some mules and take them on the adventure anyway.

It kind of feels like someone found a b-movie script from the 50s and decided to make it into a movie in 2009. Nick and Lori are so nondescript and Henry is such a type that it feels sort of intriguing. It's like someone laughing when told the chicken crossed the road to get to the other side.

Things go wrong when a rattlesnake spooks Henry's mule and quickly Lori and Nick find they have to fend for themselves without the mules or supplies. The filmmakers obviously spent very little time with research or even just imagining what the situation would be like as Lori and Nick remain perfectly lucid and able to traverse tough terrain and even climb an almost sheer wall after four days without food and water. Lori, wouldn't you know, continually finds herself losing one piece of clothing after another--first she needs to take off her shirt to bind a wound and then she's attacked by wolves who fail to injure her but somehow tear off one of her pant legs. Finally she has to rip her camisole, also to bind a wound, but the film lacks the creative oomph even to be enjoyed as an exploitation film.

Here Nick's foot gets caught between a boulder and something we're supposed to also take as a boulder but looks like a perfect square.

The performances aren't really bad and not really great. Like everything else, there's a peculiarly rigorous averageness to them. The climax of the film is the only thing that comes anywhere near impressively ridiculous, filled with errors in continuity between shots and centring on a moment of really cheap emotional manipulation which also utterly fails thanks to the fact that no-one in this movie was a believable character at any point. There's some subtle misogyny, too. When Henry's bitten by a rattlesnake, Lori helpfully says, "I have some chapstick." I think this was meant to sound like someone out of their depths grasping at anything like a solution in a crisis but it comes off as just a little too improbably stupid.

Twitter Sonnet #1007

In halls of statues shadow ants parade.
Respectful pods encourage jam to wait.
Preserved in jars, it thickens as it's made.
Reformed, the food advanced beyond the gate.
In desert suits the marching cards arrayed.
To all requests, a game developed scores.
Reflecting sounds begin a grey cascade.
Inside the house a window took the doors.
In walking dust construction wolves revolve.
The wood's so slender paper can't compete.
Inside a silent thicket eyes dissolve.
And for the beans the coffee's now complete.
Arriving late the ivy stole the sword.
The river guards a strange metallic lord.

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