Waiting for Lohan
By Matthew Breen
Everyone was waiting for Lindsay Lohan at Tuesday’s premiere of The Canyons at the Standard Hotel on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, including a few autograph hounds and paparazzi standing between the trees that flank the hotel entrance driveway.
The premiere screening for approximately 250 people was an outdoor affair, poolside, on an unseasonably cool August evening. When flashbulbs went off near the posters on easels for the team of cast and filmmakers, including director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, director of 17 films) and screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho), Linz, fresh out of rehab, wasn’t around.
But Sarah Silverman was. Dressed in black sweater and dark jeans, she was animatedly zipping through the crowd. I stopped her to get a quote. “Is this a gay film?” she asked. Well, with Ellis and Lohan, I replied. Had she ever been to an outdoor premiere? “I live right around the corner so my girlfriend and I came over—”
She abruptly paused and tilted an ear up to the grating techo beat coming through the speakers. “I need to get to the DJ, this music is assaulting me. And I feel like it’s bad for people. You can come with me if you want.” She raced to the audio system set up near the back of the screening area. I followed.
“Ever hear of Carole King? Something soothing?” she asked the DJ who was a little dazed by her approach. “I know I’m being a bully and I’m not cool, but who listens to this? This is stuff you torture Germans with. I’m turning into my mother, but I feel like together couldn’t we find a common ground that would give this party a vibe like ‘love,’ and ‘we’re all molecules,’ and not like, ‘I’m going to pull your teeth our with pliers’?” She and the DJ negotiated and Silverman climbed behind the audio boards to consult.
A few minutes later she was satisfied with the negotiations. Had Silverman ever worked with Lohan, would she? “Depends on the project. We lived in the same building, I’m rooting for her. She’s talented.” Soon Mumford and Sons, or something similar, was coming from the speakers. “This is from my phone!” Silverman said of the new music. “Don’t you feel like you can breathe now?”
There was still no sign of Lohan, and it was getting dark outside. The screening would begin soon. Maybe she’d sneak in as the screening began? Maybe?
Nope. Guests took their seats and producer Braxton Pope thanked the audience for coming, and as a helicopter passed overhead, read a text message from Lohan to the audience: “I just wanted to thank everyone for believing in me and for their support. It’s so great to be a part of this film and I hope you all enjoy it, and please make sure Paul doesn’t get naked again.”
Schrader took the mic. “Lindsay lives in a world of crisis,” he said. “She’s decided not to be here because she’s worried coming out of rehab hanging out in L.A. for the weekend, so she goes back home to New York. Then she wakes up this morning and says, ‘I want to be here tonight,’ but of course it’s not possible. And as James and all of us have dealt with over the making of this film, we’ve gotten used to these last minute situations. So I know she wanted to come but I guess the drama wasn’t sufficient. But she will come with us to the Venice film festival at the beginning of the month, and she will come with her sober companion, and we’re rooting for her.”
The film is a soapy, noirish, NC-17 thriller about the relationships between a soulless trust funder named Christian (played by real-life porn star James Deen), his professional hanger-on girlfriend Tara (Lohan), Christian’s assistant Gina (Amanda Brooks), and Gina’s cute actor-model-part-time-whatever boyfriend Ryan (Nolan Funk). It was made on a micro budget, funded by a Kickstarter campaign and with Braxton, Schrader, and Ellis kicking in their own cash. Actors reportedly got paid $100 per day plus a share of profits. There were to be no trailers on set for cast, but there would be a non-negotiable four-way sex scene. And there was.
Lohan was fine even through troweled-on makeup, but she’s a fascinating figure to watch on screen. Funk was cute (he rocks some shiny purple bikinis in a photo shoot). Deen was the least proficient at pants-on acting. Still, he’s raised his profile sufficiently that the fact that he’s not talking about Lohan anymore gets notice.
The after party, sponsored by Svedka vodka, was in the Standard’s Mmhmmm club; one must enter the club through a door that leads away from the lobby and through the kitchen of the on-site diner, past salt boxes and racks of wine glasses and the kitchen staff.
Theaters are expensive to rent for premieres, and IFC wasn’t footing a bill, which led to the unconventional setting. Ellis said, “We pulled in a few favors to do the premiere.” He appeared pleased with the outcome overall. “We just thought it was going to be this little movie, but it’s being reviewed as mainstream, and in the same week as The Wolverine. Very weird.”