Film Michael Bodey’s DVD Letterbox
ONE of the better pieces of entertainment journalism last year focused on the making of The Canyons.
Sure, entertainment journalism inhabits a shallow pool but a New York Times Magazine piece lucked on to a fading director’s troubles with his faster-fading star.
The article, ‘‘Here’s What Happens When You Cast Lindsay Lohan in Your Movie’’, recounted the travails of Paul Schrader as he attempted to revisit former glories with an adaptation of a Bret Easton Ellis script.
As expected, Lohan’s inconsistency was the focus of his frustration and of the article’s humour and interest.
Schrader was the writer of Raging Bull and Taxi Driver and director of American Gigolo and Affliction, among other films. He is, clearly, too old for such rubbish.
Nevertheless, that damn wench, cinema, continues to have men such as Schrader in its thrall. And if you doubt that, you need only observe the opening credits to this film as Schrader features shots of abandoned movie houses.
He believed Ellis’s script and his expertise could make him a contender again. He added Lohan and porn star James Deen as his leads to emphasise the point.
And in one regard it has rejuvenated Schrader. The film was made for a very cheap $US250,000, most of it raised through crowdsourcing website Kickstarter, and reportedly was a hit on video-on-demand platforms. The film has made a bit of money.
Did it deserve to do so? Well, maybe yes. The Canyons (MA15+, UniversalSony, 96min, $29.99) is a very thin film about the indolent Los Angeles milieu of trust-fund kids and movies.
It is billed as an erotic drama but there is little drama in a tale that ambles through some rough behaviour as a risible movie producer, Christian (Deen), discovers his girlfriend, Tara (Lohan), is having an affair with a young actor.
It descends into a kind of violence that clashes with the director’s austere style.
The writer’s misanthropic nature doesn’t help. The author of Less Than Zero, American Psycho and The Rules of Attraction has something to say but not too many people will be interested in what it is. At least the previous director to fall for Ellis’s text, Australian Gregor Jordan, made a little more of The Informers.
The Canyons is neither camp nor knowing enough to be enjoyable. It’s just a plod. Deen’s character is so awful, it’s hard to imagine he can have a legitimate career after this, if he wanted one. And Lohan is a sad shade of her former vibrant self — which, it must be said, was a long time ago.
If only Schrader had cast Kathleen Turner, at her peak, as his lead.