Paul Schrader is a fucked up dude. The first time he saw a film in theaters (as a teenager) he hallucinated and ran out screaming. When he was little, his mother used to poke him in the hand with a needle if he was bad and tell him that this is what hell would be like for an eternity. He used to sleep with a loaded .38 in his mouth. Once, while writing a film, he couldn’t quite get into the guilty headspace of the character so he drove out to Vegas and tried to lose all his money. Not feeling that he quite nailed it on the way home, he ditched his car. Also, for a while there in the ’70s, his kitchen counter cutting board was always adorned with a brass crown of thorns and loaded gun at all times. His strict Calvinist upbringing left an obvious impact on him and his work, and he embraces cinema as a way to expose his darkest desires and impulses. His characters are always morally torn and struggling between what is forbidden and what one must do. He puts his sins on paper as a way to relieve himself of them. And naturally, he’s always been a cinematic hero of mine.
I guess it just never occurred to me that for all his interest in violence and sex, the man who wrote one of the most important movies of the 20th century would be teaming up with the king of detached humanism, Bret Easton Ellis. Their debut collaboration, The Canyons, starring Lindsay Lohan and porn star James Deen has been described as:
A contemporary L.A. noir, exploring the dangers of sexual obsession and ambition, both personally and professionally, among a group of young people in their 20s and how one chance meeting connected to the past unravels all of their lives, resulting in deceit, paranoia and ultimately violence. The spots so far are certainly throwing back to a specific era, but whether or not the final result will bear that influence out remains to be seen.
We’ve gotten a taste of the film with a grindhouse-style teaser, but now there’s a new ’50s-style, B-movie teaser that shows even more melodramatic moments from Lohan and even more fighting and walking pensively from Deen. Undoubtably the film will be an over-the-top romp exisiting in the realm of satire and, if done right, could be a brilliant disaster. However, if done wrong, we could wind up with another Informers on our hands. But hey, Gus van Sant is on board, so something really must be brewing here. When I ran into Paul Schrader last year, he spoke to me briefly about the film but insisted that they were only hiring unknowns for the project—safe to say that idea is lying dead on the editing room floor somewhere.