Coming from Stephen Rodrick of The New York Times, today has brought us a detailed look at the making of Paul Schrader’s utterly bizarre, kickstarted passion project with producer Braxton Pope and writer/co-producer Brett Easton Ellis. The piece largely focuses on the relationship between Schrader and Lohan, who seem to develop an almost co-dependent symbiosis of chaos and disappointment. The shifting of power between egos and artists, that bizarre feeling of making something that has an equal shot of being a revelation or a disaster, and so many other esoteric little emotions are wonderfully captured in the piece. It’s a must-read.
Granted, much of it borders on sensationalism and schadenfreude, especially with anecdotes like this:
“Schrader thought about what he should do. Right now, he had the upper hand; there really was an actress waiting in Paris. But once they started shooting, he’d lose the power. Lohan could hold the entire production hostage. So he fired her…
…Lohan headed for the Orlando. She pounded on doors until she found Schrader’s room. As she banged on his door, she texted him manically. Schrader could hear her crying but wouldn’t let her in. He texted her instead.
“Lindsay, go home.”
The hotel manager rang up to ask if he should call the cops. Schrader told him no and sat down on his bed. Lohan stayed out in the hall sobbing for another 90 minutes before she finally left.”
What’s most interesting though, is the bizarre dynamic of two people looking for redemption bouncing off of each other that undeniably creates sparks, but isn’t really containable either. Meanwhile, Ellis sits as a looming presence, which is all the more interesting if you’ve been following him on Twitter over the last year or so. The man has proven himself a dynamo of shitty taste in film and has bordered on an outright online meltdown more than once, all while producing this movie in the background.
The story is bizarre at every turn, never more so than when Steven Soderbergh offers to re-edit the strange film they produce.
“Meanwhile, Ellis, Pope and Schrader battled over the film’s final cut. Pope screened a rough cut of “The Canyons” for Steven Soderbergh. Intrigued, Soderbergh offered to do an edit of the movie if he was given the footage for 72 hours.
Schrader said no.
“The idea of 72 hours is a joke,” Schrader said. “It would take him 72 hours to look at all the footage. And you know what Soderbergh would do if another director offered to cut his film?”
I said I didn’t. Schrader leaned back in his chair and gave me two middle fingers.
“That’s what Soderbergh would do.'”
Who knows what the finished product is going to be like, though I genuinely hope it’s good. The one released trailer is so affected and coated in its gimmick that it’s hard to tell anything useful. The more recent “30s Style” trailer is even worse, and does the film no favors. Denied a bow at Sundance, the filmmakers are screening for distributors and searching out whoever will inevitably handle this thing’s quiet VOD release. My hunch is that the end result will be something stilted and unremarkable, while featuring moments or scenes with something special going on. Or perhaps it will swing to one end of the spectrum.
In any event, the piece is a hefty read but well worth your time. Amidst all of this highfalutin Oscar business and celebration of the top-shelf manufacture prestige product, it’s fascinating to be reminded that film is really about desperate people trying to grind out something worthwhile, and maybe find themselves in the process.