'The Canyons' Gets Prime Coverage in the L.A. Times

LOS ANGELES — Paul Schrader’s post-theatrical uber-hyped "The Canyons" has hit Los Angeles — just check the front page of the Los Angeles Times' Calendar section.

Under the headline “One Hot Mess” is a photo of porn (and the film’s) star James Deen leaning his elbow against a wall, looking very cool and unmessy.

L.A. Times reporter Chris Lee eschews the film as a cultural flashpoint: “Its prelease awareness is wholly out of proportion with the film’s scope, star power or marketing push,” he wrote.

And he yet unwittingly validates it: the story not only won the cover, but encompasses another whole page, accompanied by several large photos

Lee’s piece really begins with Deen, “the frat boy next door,” who he chats with in Woodland Hills a few days before the release of one of the summer’s most talk-about films.

“It’s the most, unprofessional, God-awful business anywhere: Hollywood,” Deen told Lee. “Porn is much more respectable. No shady power plays. People are nicer.”

Deen’s words are somewhat ironic, given that he plays a power-perverse Hollywood film maker in "The Canyons." Or, as Lee suggests, maybe it was his particular vantage point (i.e., as Linsday Lohan's co-star) that colored his view of the "mainstream."

In any case, Lee uses Deen’s disgust with Hollywood to segway into a rehash of what he calls “one of Hollywood’s most notorious film shoots,” making sure to include all the highlights: the film’s Kickstarter origin, Schrader’s “strip tease” to help Lohan to shoot her nude scene and, of course, all of Lohan’s shenanigans, which Schrader describes as a “cone of crisis.”

The story, more of a feature than a review, lauds the film for defying its “shoestring” budget of $250,000 and centers mostly on the film’s financial and technical, rather than cultural or cinematic, feats.

“The Canyons” is a kind of experiment by a band of outsiders with their faces pressed against the glass of mainstream moviedom,” Lee wrote. “… The project could assert the viability of making, marketing and distributing film on the digital cheap.”

According to the article, the creators of “The Canyons,” through their distribution deals with IFC Films and Voltage Pictures, turned a profit before raking in a single dollar from theatrical revenue.

“The Canyons” is being screened tonight at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles at 7:30 p.m. It premiered last week in New York and is available everywhere through video-on-demand.