The latest trailer for Paul Schrader and Bret Easton Ellis's Kickstarter-funded film The Canyons is cut like a '50s melodrama, giving us a taste of the dialogue spoken by Lindsay Lohan as "Tara" and James Deen as "Christian" (I see your 50 Shades of Grey obsession, B.E.E.), and boy, it is not very promising. The Canyons looks like it may be the unofficial West Coast companion piece to Steven Soderbergh's The Girlfriend Experience, in which Sasha Gray's flat affect and existential call girl malaise failed to translate into Belle de Jour.
As an Angeleno, I've always been uncomfortable with Bret Easton Ellis's portrayal of Los Angeles, especially since it seems to be eternally popular with would-be disaffected teens. L.A. isn't all rich young white kids doing cocaine in hot tubs and crashing their parents' luxury cars on the way to the Chateau Marmont. However, if there were ever a perfect icon for that kind of louche lifestyle, it's fallen ginger Lindsay Lohan. As much as I'd like this to be her comeback tour de force, I am not optimistic. Even though the role of an ambitious actress with personal issues and a face full of fillers was clearly tailored for Lohan, this does not scream "future cult classic" to me so much as "noble experiment."
I love the idea of a low-budget independent movie shot on digital that portrays the real Los Angeles, but The Canyons does not look like it will turn out to be the next Minnie and Moskowitz. Easton Ellis's obsession with the young, beautiful, and overprivileged has only intensified over the years. Unfortunately, superficial people tend to be uninteresting, no matter how hot, youthful, or geeked-up they are. For gravitas we have Gus Van Sant as a doctor, in his first role since playing "Gus Van Sant" on Entourage in the episode "Return to Queens Blvd." James Deen's acting looks like his porn acting, which means he seems most convincing when menacing a woman. Seeing Lindsay Lohan cry onscreen makes me feel deeply sad.
The new trailer recycles a lot of shots from the first trailer in black-and-white, which doesn't seem like a great sign. The dialogue looks and sounds, well, porny. I assume they are going for postmodern camp, Douglas Sirk meets Skinemax. I'm just not sure it's going to work. But I have some faith in Paul Schrader. He pulled off Hardcore (tagline: "Oh my God, that's my daughter"), American Gigolo, and Auto Focus. For erotic '50s kitsch, it'll be hard for James Deen to top his own performance in Elvis XXX: A Porn Parody, wherein he portrays the real James Dean in full Rebel Without a Cause gear having sex with Natalie Wood (Jessi Palmer). As for The Canyons? It looks like The Californians. I will definitely watch it. Hopefully the website they post it to won't be jahmmed.