Film Michael Bodey’s DVD Let­ter­box

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Michael Bodey Twit­ter: @michael­bodey

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.

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