This is not entirely surprising, given the unstable molecules at play in the making of The Canyons, the Bret Easton Ellis-penned, James Deen and Lindsay Lohan-starring porny-noiry-something-or-other. Readers of that gigantic New York Times article on the making of the movie got to see all that was going wrong on production, and the trailer didn’t quite offer any great confidence in its quality. But now, it seems like it can’t even find a room to show in and let the audience judge for itself: SXSW became the second prominent indie movie festival, after Sundance, to reject the movie for what an insider deemed “quality issues.” Furthermore: “It’s got an ugliness and a deadness to it.” Director Paul Schrader took to Facebook to pen an note about the rejection:
After the NYT Mag piece, many have asked when the film will be shown. It’s going to be a few months. The intense reactions to Liz and Dick and the Times Mag article have made us realize that there will be an immediate blowback once The Canyons is publically screened–for good and ill. That’s the nature of anything involving Lindsay (plus BEE and JD, who also elicit visceral reactions). Therefore, when the film is shown it should also be available VOD and limited theatrical. That way the curious can see the film for themselves. I am told it takes 3-4 months to organize a proper VOD release. After Sundance we’ll screen the film for multi-platform distributors and set the process in motion. In a way it’s good we’re not at Sundance. We weren’t prepared, we weren’t organized. Films enter festivals to heighten their profile. The Canyons doesn’t need to do that. We need to organize multi-platform distribution. This is not a dodge, it’s common sense. The film is very good. I have no qualms about that. Paul S.
You’d think it would be able to find an audience based on its pedigree alone, since who wouldn’t pay $15 to see such a clusterfuck of L.A. sex and sleaze? But it evinces the question of whether the movie is so bad that even keeping it around for irony’s sake would be a bad move—which, of course, only makes me want to see it more. Maybe that VOD thing will pay off, and we’ll have an answer soon enough. You can watch some of what we’ve seen below and judge for yourself.