Since the very first day director Paul Schrader (American Gigolo) and author Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho, The Rules Of Attraction) announced on Kickstarter they were making a film, the Internet has been dying to know: ‘What exactly is The Canyons?’ Of course things only got more complicated as the year went on. Porn star James Deen was named the headlining star, Lindsay Lohan had been baited to join the cast, The New York Times wrote a thoroughly juicy profile on the film and it was rejected from Sundance. Things went from interesting, to weird, to bad news bears in less than a year but now, it’s here. The Canyons has finally arrived, for better or worse, and these are the ten things you need to know before seeing it.
1. The Canyons is like The Hills meets American Psycho.
Penned by Bret Easton Ellis, the DNA of The Canyons is fairly similar to his previous work, especially American Psycho. This time the guy in question is Christian (James Deen), who is a bored, overbearing trust-fund baby with a taste for blood. Though, the setting and many of the scenes play out like The Hills, with characters gathering for meals that no one is eating, lots of staring (by Lindsay Lohan) and overall lack of any substantial plot.
2. The movie is, like, super meta.
Remember the later Scream films and how they got all self-referential? Well that was done on purpose, the meta nature in this film – not so much. The story is about making a film, that no one really wants to make with a star no one really wants in it. If that’s not a metaphor Lohan’s career then I don’t know what is. It seems Ellis and Schrader were attempting to shine the light on the decay of modern cinema as a way to give the middle finger to Hollywood for forcing them to use Kickstarter to fund the movie.
3. This is not Lindsay Lohan’s comeback movie.
Now that Lohan is out fresh out of rehab, The Canyons will be seen as her Nth attempt at a comeback. However, it’s not going to do her any favors. It’s no Labor Pains but the film lacks the same campy punch that made Machete so great for some. If we judge the acting alone, Lohan did a fine job. Her role is surprising for how much emotion it manages to pull out of her puffy face but it also just may have been last night’s booze seeping through her pores.
4. It’s official: James Deen can(not) act.
In all honesty, Deen was fine, like the mediocre deli sandwich you got from the bodega was fine. He plays the part of what may or may not be Ellis’ fanciful version of Christian Grey (of that book series he wanted to turn into a movie) but he does nothing more than act like a spoiled brat. And he was believable at that.
5. Yes, that’s Oscar-winning director Gus Van Sant.
Van Sant must have owed Schrader a huge favor to be roped into this film. Nonetheless, Gus makes a brief appearance as Christian’s therapist. Again, this is where the film goes all meta – having a director portray a therapist who question his patient’s (portrayed by a porn star) feelings about having to “act”. But hey Van Sant was there. So that’s cool.