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CINEMA: Lost In The Canyons

 

NEW YORK TIMES: Brett Easton Ellis is noticeably absent, holed up less than a mile away waging one of his frequent Twitter wars. (He has mounted social-media jihads against David Foster Wallace, J. D. Salinger and Kathryn Bigelow.) He thinks Lohan is wrong for the part, especially if she’s cast opposite the porn star he courted online. But he spent all his capital getting his man cast. Also, his condo is under water. Ellis will give in.

Schrader, Pope and Lohan talk details. The film, “The Canyons,” has a microbudget, maybe $250,000. Ellis, Pope and Schrader are putting up $30,000 apiece. The rest will be raised on Kickstarter with promises of cameos, script reviews and — for the low, low price of $10,000 — the money clip that Robert DeNiro gave Schrader on the set of “Taxi Driver.” There will be no studio looking over their shoulders offering idiot notes. The actress will get $100 a day and an equal share of the profits, but no vote in decision-making. This last clause is nonnegotiable.

Schrader goes over some ground rules; no trailers on set and one contractually obligated, four-way sex scene. Oh, another thing, Schrader adds: he will not try to sleep with her. This was probably a more relevant point in 1982, but no matter. Lohan stands up and says goodbye, telling everyone how excited she is to be working with them. She leaves the restaurant, followed by her mother and the mysterious man with the presents. […]

If Schrader wasn’t worried about Lohan’s reputation, it might be because he is familiar with dysfunction. As a boy, his mother showed him what hell felt like by shoving a needle into his thumb. His father lobbied to prevent “The Last Temptation of Christ,” a film his son wrote, from playing in their hometown, Grand Rapids, Mich. After his father died, Schrader found that he owned VHS tapes of all of his films, but none of them had been opened. In his 20s, Schrader slept with a gun under his pillow because he could fall asleep only if he knew there was a way out. Now he never travels without thousands of dollars in the currency of half a dozen countries.

Schrader is convinced he can manage Lohan. He thinks he has seen it all. Thirty years ago, he directed an alcoholic George C. Scott in “Hardcore.” One day, Scott wouldn’t come out of his trailer. He called Schrader into his booze-soaked sanctuary. “You’re a great screenwriter but the world’s worst goddamned director,” Scott said. “Promise me you’ll never direct another movie, and I’ll come out.” Schrader dropped to his knees and promised. A few weeks later, Scott read in the trades that Schrader was going to direct “American Gigolo.” Next time he saw Schrader, he bellowed, “You’re a liar.” MORE

RELATED: [Former Philadelphia Magazine scribe] Stephen Rodrick is a contributing writer for the New York Times magazine. His memoir, ‘‘The Magical Stranger,’’ will be published in May by HarperCollins.

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