This week the indie "sexual thriller" Canyons took another hit. After, being dissed by Sundance, which apparently had its fill of over-sexed indies, it was also rejected by Texas' own SXSW. Why is everyone hating on this film?
If you haven't heard about it, the film has had a very rocky road thus far. The New York Times published an incredibly lengthy account of the film and the world of trouble it has gone through, which I will get to in a minute. Canyons is being described as an erotic film noir. It is directed by Paul Schrader, writer of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, and was written by Brett Easton Ellis, who wrote psycho-dramas such as American Psycho and Less Than Zero. Given these two gentlemen's previous work, one would think Hollywood would be excited about this film, but it seems anything but.
For some unknown reason, and ever more unknown after reading the Times chronicling of this movie, Schrader insisted on casting Lindsay Lohan in the movie. He wanted her to play a minor role; she demanded the lead. Throughout the shooting Schrader has had to contend with arrests, drugs, car crashes, and that's all on Lohan's good days. Basically, she's turned the movie into a mess.
There are a few trailers and teasers for the film and on some accounts it feels like a mockery of itself. One trailer is done in a tongue-and-cheek '50s noir style that makes you feel that they are not taking themselves too seriously. Then there is another clip that was released where I laughed out loud because it was so cheesy.
But is the cheese on purpose? Despite Schrader's lack of recent Hollywood cred, it doesn't mean he hasn't been involved in the movies, and good ones at that. Penning both Raging Bull and Taxi Driver aside, he also wrote critic favorites The Mosquito Coast, Rolling Thunder and The Last Temptation of Christ. His directorial list isn't too shabby either. He directed American Gigolo, Light of Day (that movie with Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett) and Patty Hearst. So I think we can all agree the guy can put together a movie.
The screenwriter for Canyons, Brett Easton Ellis, also comes with a list of hit books and adapted works. Less Than Zero, American Psycho and The Rules of Attraction were Ellis books that turned into even more popular movies. In the past few years critics have said he has gone south a bit, but let's give the guy the benefit of the doubt. He created one of the most maniacal characters, whose world revolves around chainsaws and business cards, of all time! I have read all of Ellis' works and I've only hated a few of them.
The movie has all the trappings of a 21st century hit. Brendan Canning of "Broken Social Scene" scored the film, American Apparel is donating its hipster brand of clothing to the film and will allegedly be selling exclusive Canyon accoutrement and cooler-than-thou director-turn-actor Gus Van Sant will play a psychiatrist; the movie was even somewhat funded through Kickstarter for Pete's sake. What more do you people want out of a movie?
Perhaps you want some blood and sex because Canyons is filled with it. According to the Times the movie could get a NC-17 rating because of rampant nudity and plenty of boinking. And this is not your average everyday sex; this is dirty, porn Lindsay Lohan sex. What red blooded American doesn't want to see that?
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
All of this leaves me rather confused. Not having seen the movie yet, I only have the highest hopes for it. Naturally, it could be a disaster but it also could be the next Showgirls, a movie that no one understood until years after its release that also contained lots of boobs.
Assumedly, the reason everyone is knocking this movie before trying it is because of LiLo. Yes, she is a mess of a person. Sure, allegedly she took the movie way over budget due to reckless spending on things like sushi for her and her friends. Right, her porn star colleague, James Deen, bashed her for being the most immature person he's worked with (and the guy works in porn). And certainly, Lindsay Lohan hasn't proven herself as a good actress since... some point I guess people said she was a good actress. But does all of that make this movie unwatchable?
We shall see...