Canadian actor-singer Nolan Funk burst into entertainment for young adults in 2009 with a starring role in the rock musical "Spectacular!" (Nickelodeon, 2009), which led to heartthrob turns on such eq...
What's your damage, Lindsay Lohan?
LiLo appears to give that question an answer as disaffected, super-mascaraed socialite Tara in Paul Schrader's epic fizzle of a film The Canyons: her damage is something to be exploited for drama (certainly by Lohan herself) as if she were a kind of latter-day female Dennis Hopper. The only problem is that she doesn’t possess any of Hopper's jittery, live-wire spark, his inventory of manic quirks. What you get from Lohan in The Canyons is energy-sapped ennui that looks like a bad parody of an Antonioni movie starring people who've never actually watched an Antonioni movie. There's no train-wreck appeal in seeing The Canyons. Only boredom and the dawning of a final realization that our inexplicably enduring interest in Lohan far surpasses her actual talent.
Schrader, and screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho), make their agenda in The Canyons clear in its title. It's the topographical and moral opposite of The Hills. The MTV show was glammed-up meaninglessness about hot young things buying stuff and getting into petty squabbles. The Canyons also focuses on hot young things (one of them, James Deen, a real-life porn star!), but to reveal the dark, even psychotic, moral decay at the center of their lives.
Deen's Christian is another of Ellis' sociopathic twentysomething trust-fund brats — Patrick Bateman with a smartphone. He films himself and others having sex with his girlfriend Tara (Lohan), who he plans to cast opposite a naïve Hollywood newcomer named Ryan (Nolan Gerard Funk) in a movie he's about to start shooting. He's young, rich, and has nothing better to do, so why not make a movie? Who cares if he has no idea how to make one?
On the side, Christian keeps another bed partner, Gina (Amanda Brooks), who he has sex with but violently refuses to kiss. Like everything in the movie, Schrader and Ellis' ideas are abundantly clear and on the surface: Christian wants instant gratification but not intimacy, and it's hard not to see him as their shallow commentary on the millennial generation as a whole. Schrader deploys a dizzying array of distancing devices to keep us at bay, including the projection of neon lights on Deen, Lohan, and Funk's nubile bodies during a group sex scene that has "Razzie Nomination" written all over it.
The web of trysts between these four characters is pretty complex, and on the surface it seems none of the characters possess any emotional investment in their hook-ups. But, of course, they really do. Like the characters in one of Schrader's favorite movies, Jean Renoir’s masterpiece The Rules of the Game, they've actively tried — and failed — to deaden themselves emotionally in order to deal with the meaninglessness of their lives. Finally, an eruption of violence shatters the love polygon once one of the characters decides that he can only find meaning in petty jealousy. These are people who, like Renoir said of his characters at the time of The Rules of the Game's 1939 release, "dance on the edge of a volcano." The only problem is that, unlike in Renoir's film, this is a volcano that produces no heat.
Schrader started as a film critic until making the jump in the mid '70s to screenwriting (The Yakuza, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull) and then directing with Blue Collar and Hardcore, the latter an acid portrait of a father devastated when he discovers his daughter has become a porn actress. He followed up Hardcore with American Gigolo. These were dynamic depictions of the intersection of sex, money, and morality. But Schrader's always had a clinical streak, and he's shown throughout his career a penchant for having great ideas but not knowing how to dramatize them, for being able to deconstruct movie tropes like a critic without being able to reassemble them for emotional satisfaction. He was as washed up as Lohan when he got around to making The Canyons, and together they've made a film that has us wondering why we ever cared about them in the first place.
Lohan wears her hair up in a bun and equips herself with ridiculous bangle jewelry, as if she's just stepped off the set of Liz & Dick. Deen, an actor who's better at "doing" than speaking, seems to recite his lines phonetically. And Schrader's direction feels like that of a UCLA sophomore with a running bar tab at the Chateau Marmont. It's utterly lifeless.
The moral rot of Spring Breakers is given pungent urgency by all that neon and Skrillex — you get caught up in the girls' crime spree and are even implicated in it yourself, because that film throbs with life. The Canyons doesn't even have a pulse. It's not so bad it's good. It's not destined to be a camp classic. It certainly will do nothing for Lohan's career. It's just bad. All it has going for it is an apt title that applies to the movie itself: a place you fall into until you hit rock bottom.
What do you think? Tell Christian Blauvelt directly on Twitter @Ctblauvelt and read more of his reviews on Rotten Tomatoes!
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Half-used bottle of hair dye Lindsay Lohan made a porn movie. Well, not exactly, but she did star with adult actor James Deen in The Canyons, written by Twitter scourge Brett Easton Ellis and directed by Paul Schrader (of Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, and American Gigolo fame). Of course, we all want to hear all the dirty details behind the microbudget film and just how many rails she snorted off a naked DJ who is riding a pony and wearing glittery chaps.
Sadly, there is none of that in Stephen Rodrick's captivating New York Times Magazine story about the making of the film, but there are all sorts of nutty details that make LiLo sound like an absolute nightmare. You really should read the whole thing in all its dirty details, but here is a breakdown of the outlandish things she Ellis and Schrader had to deal with while making the movie:
Dina Lohan Butting In: "The actress’s mother, Dina Lohan, sits at the next table. Mom sweeps blond hair behind her ear and tries to eavesdrop."
Bitching About Liz & Dick: "At their second meeting, Lohan complained to Schrader about a biopic she was shooting for Lifetime, in which she played Elizabeth Taylor, one of her role models. She proclaimed the director a jerk, her co-star a nightmare and the crew unfriendly."
Not Showing Up: "There was just one missing: Lohan."
Making Suggestions About Casting After the Cast Is Complete: "Across the table, [costar Nolan Gerard] Funk could see that his name had been crossed out in Lohan’s script and underneath were the names of three or four actors as possible replacements. [Brett Easton] Ellis saw that [James] Deen’s name also had a line through it."
Suggesting Cast Members Be Replaced with Jared Leto: "Lohan squealed and said, 'How about Jared?' Schrader nodded approvingly. 'Jared Harris?' 'No, Jared Leto.'"
Not Showing Up: "Then she disappeared for a few days."
Stalking the Director and Freaking Out When She's Fired: "She pounded on doors until she found Schrader’s room. As she banged on his door, she texted him manically."
Doing Her Own Makeup... Badly: "It was true; Lohan’s visage had a Kabuki quality to it."
Jumping Out of the Back Seat of the Car and Disappearing for a Lunch Break: "That’s when his passengers did a jailbreak, jumping out of his car. [Publicist Steve] Honig frantically pushed buttons until the gate opened and the four of them dashed for Lohan’s assistant’s car."
Being Distractingly Jealous of Her Costar While Locking Herself in a Closet Instead of Filming a Sex Scene with Three Porn Stars: "'The thing that’s going to explode from this film is James Deen!' [Schrader said.] Lohan screamed from the back of the closet. 'That’s what I’m afraid of!'"
Driving Drunk: "He noticed that she...had been drinking...Quietly, Pope told Lohan that he could get her a driver to take her home. But she refused, jumped into her Porsche and headed down the dark, narrow road."
Being Amazing: "Now, without the garish makeup, Lohan looked sadly beautiful, and it was easy to see why men like Schrader were willing to put their lives in her hands. The camera rolled, and Deen moved in slowly to touch her face."
Not Showing Up: "Lohan missed her morning call, and then she left the shoot for lunch with friends, running up a $600 tab on sushi, sake and vodka."
Showing Up Then Leaving Because of a Concocted Illness: "His diagnosis: An inner-ear infection. She was done for the day."
Partying All Night with Lady Gaga: "'Lindsay was out with Lady Gaga till 5:30 a.m. Her call was 6 a.m.'"
Quoting the Most Eye-Rolling Scene in Liz & Dick While Attempting To Make You Feel Sorry For Her: "I needed time to figure out all the crap in my life that I’d created for myself, essentially, and I kind of realized, What am I doing? I like doing this. I like being here. This makes me happy. There was a line in the ‘Elizabeth’ movie where she says, ‘I’m so bored, I’ve never been taught what to do when I’m not working,’ and I’m kind of figuring that out now."
Coming Up with a Brilliant Plan to Get Access Hollywood to Foot the Bill for Production: "'We’ll have Access Hollywood pay for it. They’ll film it, I’ll answer three questions about the movie and then they’ll pay for it. It’s really easy.'"
Not Showing Up: "It took two months and the quasi intervention of Lohan’s father to get Lohan to finish two hours of looping for the outdoor scenes."
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: Sodium Fox]
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Canadian actor-singer Nolan Funk burst into entertainment for young adults in 2009 with a starring role in the rock musical "Spectacular!" (Nickelodeon, 2009), which led to heartthrob turns on such equally popular teen projects as "Glee" (Fox, 2009- ) and "Awkward" (MTV, 2011- ). A former professional diver and gymnast, Funk moved into films and television in 2001 with guest appearances on numerous episodic series and the occasional feature. "Spectacular!" gave his profile a huge boost, which led to stints on Broadway, as a pop singer and frequent guest star on the aforementioned series. Interestingly, Funk appeared to cultivate an entirely different audience in his film roles, which hewed towards grown-up fare like "House at the End of the Street" (2012), "Riddick" (2013) and "The Canyons" (2013). His willingness to explore both lightweight TV and more dramatic feature fare seemed to indicate that Funk might have a career outside of the 12-to-18 viewership demographic. <p>Born Nolan Gerard Funk on July 28, 1986 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Nolan Funk began his career in sports, competing on the national level as both a diver and gymnast. He shifted his focus to acting in the early part of the new millennium, quickly amassing supporting roles in American and Canadian television aimed at young viewers, including "Smallville" (The WB, 2001-2011), "Supernatural" (The WB/CW, 2005- ) and features like "X2" (2003). Funk's big break came as the lead in a Nickelodeon TV-movie musical called "Spectacular!" which cast him as a self-centered frontman for a rock group opposite Australian singer Tammin Sursok and Victoria Justice. The popularity of the project quickly elevated Funk to teen idol status, which he reinforced through appearances on "Glee," and on the well-received "Awkward." During this period, Funk also appeared as Conrad Birdie in a 2009-2010 limited Broadway run of "Bye Bye Birdie." While cultivating a clean-cut image on the small screen, Funk's feature film career took some decidedly mature turns. He was a high school tough who runs afoul of Max Thieriot's unstable teen in the hit thriller "House at the End of the Street" (2012), and a Bible-toting mercenary who opposes the indestructible Vin Diesel in "Riddick" (2013). Funk closed out the year with a supporting turn in Paul Schrader's controversial drama "The Canyons" (2013), starring Lindsay Lohan and adult film star James Deen. </p><p> </p>
Fluent in both French and German.
Appeared in the music video for Miranda Cosgrove's single "Stay My Baby" (2008)
Suffers from dyslexia.
Performed at New York's Hard Rock Café with "American Idol" singer David Archuleta in 2009.