Paul Schrader once said, "What fascinates me are people who want to be one thing but who behave in a way contradictory to that. Who might say, ‘I want to be happy, but I keep doing things that make me unhappy.’ He’s always been a man of contradictions and juxtapositions—whether’s it’s been within himself or in his films. Schrader wanted to be happy but would sleep with a load gun in his mouth; Travis Bickle wanted love but frightened people away.
And Taxi Driver aside, if you’ve seen his 1979 Hardcore, which is pure id Schrader, you understand that his vehement use of sex is never really about sex but about fear or perversion or guilt. And when I first heard he was teaming up with Bret Easton Ellis, I was a little perturbed but thought that if the two of them could meld their common interest the psychological dismantling of sex and aggression, this could be great. But with everything that’s been reported about the film, between the NYTimes pieces to SXSW’s rejection of the film—not to mention those heinous teasers—I’ve grown more than skeptical.
But there are those who have seen the film. Scott Foundas, a critic for the Village Voice described The Canyons as "a fascinating meeting of the minds between Paul Schrader and Bret Easton Ellis." Steven Soderbergh, who was rejected from his offer to edit the film, recently said during a Side Effects Q&A that the film is "fascinating" and that there’s a "spectacular sex scene in it." Oddly, Nicolas Winding Refn has also seen the film but who knows what he would have to say.
However, Schrader still holds confident, calling it: "cinema for the post theatrical era." IndieWire reports that Schrader claims, "we are working with a new echoic paradigm." "We are in a very fluid exhibition world where there are so many platforms," says Shcrader who was inspired by Ed Burns’ use of social media-led projects. "theatrical just has to be seen as part of a panoply of options. Straight to video isn’t even a relevant term anymore."