The Canyons

discs streets of fire

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Streets of Fire (UK) Welcome to another time, another place, and a world where rock ‘n’ roll meets the American Western alongside an infusion of rockabilly gangsters and neon living. Pop icon Ellen Aim (Diane Lane) has been kidnapped by the leader of the Bombers, Raven Shaddock (Willem Dafoe). Her only hope is an ex-boyfriend turned mercenary, Tom Cody (Michael Paré). While wrapped in peculiar details, this oddball action/drama/musical is actually a pretty straightforward tale plot-wise, and it’s those details that make it stand apart. Well, the details, the cast, and the songs. The lead trio is joined by Rick Moranis, Bill Paxton, Amy Madigan, and other recognizable faces, and the songs are catchy as all hell. The UK’s Second Sight is releasing this Walter Hill cult classic to Blu-ray for the first time, and while I can’t personally vouch for the disc’s picture and sound, the label has a strong track record and the inclusion of a new, 80-minute documentary on the film is an incredibly intriguing extra. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Documentary, press kit, music videos] *This is a region-B release and requires an all-region player to be played in the US.*

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Mud Hunter

There are many reasons to compare and contrast current films with historical ones. One is to attempt to explain why some films have been spotlighted in place of a possible litany similar films. Another is to show the machinations of cinematic influence, or explore the persistence of repeated narratives throughout film history. And yet another is because it’s damn fun. Here at Criterion Files, we have (on a not-at-all-regular basis) compared recent films with relevant counterparts canonized in the cinephilic annals of the Criterion collection, including two Lincoln biopics, two iconic exercises of the close-up, and the overwhelming similarities between Pierrot le Fou and a certain beloved Wes Anderson film. But rarely has a crop of films released in a single season echoed the specific work of classic counterparts than the summer of 2013.

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Bret Easton Ellis

Bret Easton Ellis‘s novels have had an interesting path to the big screen: the only novel that fully captured his writing is The Rules of Attraction, a movie that divided audiences; American Psycho is a cult favorite that Ellis isn’t entirely pleased with; Less Than Zero, although featuring a great performance from Robert Downey Jr., is a terrible adaptation; and the less said about The Informers, well, the better. However, The Canyons is a film Ellis had a very different relationship with. The LA noir is one of many original scripts he’s written, but it’s the only one that has made it to the screen with the help of Kickstarter, producer Braxton Pope, and director Paul Schrader. The movie is as much a statement about filmmaking as it is anything else, and Ellis had his own statements to make about modern cinema culture and adapting the unadaptable.

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Passion Movie

During a 35th anniversary screening of Taxi Driver at the Indiana University Cinema in 2011, Paul Schrader stated that studios stopped making movies like Taxi Driver a long time ago, and moreover, studios weren’t interested in making movies for adults anymore. Judging by his collaboration with novelist/screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis in The Canyons, it seems he believes Hollywood isn’t interested in making movies anymore. The Canyons portrays an entertainment industry that has collapsed into the things that its product has afforded for its participants: lifestyle and status. The Lindsay Lohan’s Ghost-starring flick envisions a Hollywood in which its movers of money have stopped even pretending to care about the product peddled, instead spending all their time and efforts on the social capital afforded. The stylish restaurants, isolated mansions, cold XXX-capades, and even the privilege of getting away with murder.

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Real Wall-E

The morning’s fascinating articles from around the movie website-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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The Canyons

If you’re expecting this to be a raging takedown of Paul Schrader‘s skeevy-seeming flick, you’re going to be disappointed. Coincidentally, that’s the emotion you’ll be left with if you see The Canyons and expect anything but a stream of beige Ambien with a side of stale popcorn. It’s a movie unworthy of snark or derision because despite trying so, so hard to be controversial, it merely manages to be dull. It is exactly the worst thing you can call a movie of its kind: average. Mostly bored with his life, trust fund baby Christian (James Deen) is making a movie to satisfy a father who disapproves of his laziness. He thinks so little of the endeavor that he’s put his assistant Gina (Amanda Brooks) in charge of it in a move that she misinterprets as respectful elevation, but what our main man is really interested in is finding people online to share his girlfriend Tara (Lindsay Lohan) with sexually. When he learns that she’s been cheating on him with a piece of wet cardboard actor named Ryan (Nolan Funk), he loses it and begins trying to systematically destroy the people around him.

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Schrader

You can’t hold a world premiere event for a film inside a television, or over the Internet, or as ordered through a remote control. Sure, you can stream it, or you can record it to watch later, and you can even have someone FaceTime you in, but you can’t hold a true event for a film without getting some butts into some seats, some snacks onto a tray, and a movie onto the big screen. Director Paul Schrader may have made his The Canyons alongside screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis and producer Braxton Pope with the full intent to bow the film on the VOD-enabled small screen, but that doesn’t change the fact that the film was entered into film festivals, or that later this month you can see it in a theater near you in limited release, or even that its world premiere was held in a theater. Last night actually, at the Walter Reade Theater at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, a real theater for real cinephiles, and I was in attendance to take it all in. There was a lot to take in.

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Lindsay Lohan The Canyons

The trailer for The Canyons looks like it will give you a neon-colored STD. There’s no escaping that brash aesthetic element, but the far more common commentary that seems to be happening is the funeral dirge being sung for movies. Some of the first promo imagery for the Paul Schrader-directed sexual thriller featured the crumbling insides of a theater; he recently spoke at length about the “systemic change” facing the filmmaking industry; and the meta nature of a producer (James Deen) and his actress girlfriend (Lindsay Lohan) anchoring the story brings it all home. So it’s not surprising that the latest trailer for the film opens with Lohan’s character rhetorically asking if we still like movies before admitting that she’s just not that into them anymore. Beyond the darkness and forced shock to be expected from anything Bret Easton Ellis is involved in, the quiet death of movies might be something we’ll be getting a lot of in this one. That, and a whole host of bad acting. Wear protection and check out the trailer for yourself:

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The Canyons

After a fair bit of kerfuffle over its rejection from the SXSW Film Festival, Paul Schrader‘s The Canyons has managed to snag a distribution deal from IFC Films. Deadline Hollywood passes along word that the already-controversial film, penned by Bret Easton Ellis and “starring” porn star James Deen and perennial tabloid fodder Lindsay Lohan, will be getting quite the fancy release from the distributors, including a theatrical bow, a digital release, and a “Special Presentation” at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York City sometime this summer. Snark aside, if you’re in Gotham this summer, mark your calendars now, this sounds like it’s going to be the cinematic event of the season. Schrader has described the film as “cinema for the post-theatrical era,” and the project utilized a bevy of crowd-funding techniques to raise both funds and awareness (a campaign we’ve covered here, here, and here) so it is, at the very least, an innovative project that will be interesting to track even on the most basic of financial levels (i.e. is this thing going to make money?). The Film Society of Lincoln Center event will include a chat with Schrader and Kent Jones, Director of Programming of the New York Film Festival, so we’ll keep an eye and ear out for those details to pass along to all our New York Rejects.

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The Canyons

Paul Schrader’s next film, The Canyons, was written by famed author Bret Easton Ellis and stars Lindsay Lohan and some male porn star, which earned the project some hype right from the very moment it was announced that held straight through its production. But, despite all of its marquee talent, the movie put out a weird teaser trailer that didn’t seem to have any actual footage from the film and was mostly just a bunch of abstract images shot around L.A. Well, now the film has released a full trailer, and instead of being street photography stuff that doesn’t feature Lindsay Lohan, it’s…something else that’s completely weird as well. It would seem that either The Canyons was shot in black and white, its images have been altered to make this vintage-style trailer, or what we’re looking at still isn’t actual footage from the film. Which of these possibilities sounds most believable?

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The Canyons

With all the time Bret Easton Ellis spends on twitter voicing his unpopular opinions, it was a bit of a shock to discover he found even more time to develop a project with Paul Schrader. That movie, The Canyons, we now have a first look at, and in a nicely unconventional way as well. Schrader’s film earned its financing via Kickstarter, so it’s an appropriate marketing choice to sell the movie as a down and dirty indie. Take a gander at the iMovie effects-ridden teaser for The Canyons (via The Playlist):

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Over the course of its pre-production, The Canyons has established itself as being something of a poster child for modern filmmaking. Besides its casting of a couple of recognizable names, like tabloid star Lindsay Lohan and porn star James Deen, the film searched for much of its talent through Facebook auditions. And instead of relying on studio backing to raise funds, the traditional way, its writer, Bret Easton Ellis, and its director, Paul Schrader, raised money through a Kickstarter project, that offered up a bevy of ridiculous prizes backers could win. So what have been the fruits of all of their ultra-modern labors? It’s still kind of hard to tell. A two-and-a-half minute trailer has been released, but it doesn’t seem to contain any actual footage from the film it’s supposed to be promoting. Instead, it just gives us a montage of images shot around L.A., set to a Dum Dum Girls song; no Lindsay, no James Deen, no nothing. Despite the film’s apparent tagline of “It’s not The Hills,” this promo looks like it could very much be the credit sequence of some sort of reality show shot in the city.

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The staff here at FSR have been tracking the development of The Canyons pretty closely. The reportedly microbudgeted film directed by Paul Schrader from a script by American Psycho/Less Than Zero novelist Bret Easton Ellis and guided by indie producer Braxton Pope, The Canyons has gained notice for utilizing social media outlets like Kickstarter to help finance it and Facebook to cast as-yet-undiscovered talent. Now, it appears that legendary acting veterans James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor porn star James Deen and postmodern performance art project Lindsay Lohan will star in the film, which ComingSoon describes as a “contemporary thriller that documents five twenty-somethings’ quest for power, love, sex and success in 2012 Hollywood.” Lohan is best-known for her starring roles in The Parent Trap, Mean Girls, and the Los Angeles district court. James Deen is best known for his roles at Jimmy Olsen in Superman XXX: A Porn Parody, Moe in Simpsons: The XXX Parody, and Egon Spengler in This Ain’t Ghostbusters XXX.

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A money clip autographed by Robert De Niro and given to Paul Schrader on the set of Taxi Driver. A pitch meeting with the producer currently making a Schrader feature penned by Bret Easton Ellis. An autographed hardcover copy of every Ellis book. I’m sorry, are you some Hollyhood hot shot? No? Just a Kickstarter backer? Sure. We’ve written plenty about the Schrader-directed and Ellis-penned The Canyons, thanks to its inventive use of participatory cinema (including casting for roles on Facebook) and our exclusive debut of the film’s poster, but now the team behind the film (including producer Braxton Pope) have gone one step further when it comes to making a crowd-influenced film: they’re going for crowd-funding. Per the film’s new Kickstarter page, “Pope, Ellis and Schrader are partly financing the film themselves through Pope’s new company Sodium Fox in order to maintain complete creative control of the distinct source material…The Canyons team has realized the Kickstarter is indeed a part of this new independent change, and is seeking to connect with our fan base even further with this campaign.” The Canyons team is currently looking to raise $100,000, and to meet that end, they’re offering some of the most jaw-dropping backer rewards that I’ve ever seen for this type of campaign (you know, like those I listed up top). After the break, check out twelve unbelievable items currently available as backer rewards on The Canyons‘ Kickstarter page. If financing indie films means that Bret Easton Ellis will review your novel or Paul Schrader […]

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Yesterday, our own Landon Palmer dedicated this week’s always-astute Culture Warrior to emerging participatory cinema, films that hinge on the involvement of outside audiences to not only finance them, but actually cast them and get them to the screen. Landon paid particular attention to director Paul Schrader and screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis‘s The Canyons, one of the most tantalizing and high-profile projects out there that is relying on participation from others to get made. The pair, along with producer Braxton Pope, are relying on submitted auditions from all interested parties to form their cast, using their Facebook page and their LetItCast page to choose possible rising stars to fill out the  five major roles in the film. While we don’t know much about the film, we do know that it’s “about youth, glamour, sex and Los Angeles, circa 2012″ and that the five main roles include “Christian, a trust fund kid, power player and major manipulator, who is a film producer that enjoys filming his own three-way sex sessions; Tara, his girlfriend and former model; Ryan, a bartender and young actor who is angling for a role in Christian’s horror movie; Gina, who works for Ryan and is in love with him and is also looking for a role in the horror pic and finally, Lindsay, a former actress turned yoga instructor who is sleeping with Christian, and falling in love with him.” (Thanks to The Playlist for those descriptions.) Both Schrader and Ellis have distinctly dark worldviews, so it’s […]

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Culture Warrior

Veteran filmmaker Paul Schrader, notorious author Bret Easton Ellis, and indie producer Braxton Pope want you to audition for their new film. They’re assembling a microbudget feature for the digital distribution market called The Canyons, and they’re looking for some fresh new faces to star in it. Is your lack of an agent or non-Los Angeles residence preventing you from getting a fair chance at auditioning for legit films? There’s no need to worry, for we live in the 21st century my friend. The Canyons is holding its audition process through Facebook. On the one hand, The Canyons‘s unique production process makes complete sense. We are no longer, after all, in 2006 when studio producers had an overinvested, experimental Snakes on a Plane-level-interest in Internet culture. In this case, even on a small-budget independent film, the visible gatekeepers still possess power over the participants within the supposedly “democratized” framework of social networking. For a while it seemed that cinema – largely an object particular to 20th century logic – could not adapt to the boundary-destroying, power-shifting implications of the 21st century. Now this seems to no longer be the case. Web distribution (which was little more than a fantasy or an overblown threat to theatrical cinema’s hegemony just over a decade ago) is now seen as a conceivable and potentially profitable alternative to traditional film exhibition.

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