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.
6. Glee’s Nolan Funk plays dress-down.
Funk better hope Ryan Murphy doesn’t see this otherwise he’s going to be spending a lot more time naked on the show. Though, fans of him on Glee or Awkward probably wouldn’t complain too much. The GIF below was probably the juiciest shot and that includes the sex scenes.
7. Speaking of dressing down, penis.
One would think if Ellis is penning a “sex thriller” starring a porn star there would be lots of sex and/or gratuitous shots of said porn star’s penis. Sadly for some, Deen’s penis is no where to be found except for one quick shot. His nudity, plus another brief male penis, are just a few of the barely there nude shots in this film. One other thing about penis in this film is the surprising person who goes down on Christian.
8. What there is plenty of are Lohan’s boobs.
Hey, the actress bared all in Playboy, so it should be no surprise that she does so again in this film. It’s great that the actress is so comfortable in the film but it’s clear that she traded a few graphic sex scenes for some unnecessary boob shots. Maybe that’s how she got a co-producer credit on the film and top billing in the credits. This girl certainly knows how to negotiate.
9. The soundtrack scores where the film fails.
Anyone who saw the most recent trailer who admit that the music added a huge boost to the overall feel and expectation of the film. Suddenly it went from some campy home film to a legit indie thriller with some dubstep thrown in the mix. The score, composed by Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning, amps up the thrills and the darkness when the movie can’t do it on its own.
10. Screw the man, watch it on Video On Demand not in theaters.
Part of the idea of the film is the lack of any real desire to see a film in theaters and this is the perfect example of one not to waste $12.50 (or however much it costs these days) to see something on the big screen. Pay the $5.99 (hopefully not much more) to watch this flick in the comfort of your own home with three of your friends so you can gab about the film and the ridiculousness of Nolan’s junk, Lohan’s Rachel Zoe-inspired outfits and Deen’s awkwardly short height compared to his female co-stars.
The film opens in select theaters and Video On Demand Friday August 2nd.