Screenwriter, tweeter and erstwhile novelist Bret Easton Ellis took on the critics of his much-maligned movie The Canyons, calling their negative reaction "disproportionate" to the small-budget film and overly focused on the physical appearance of actress Lindsay Lohan, he told The Hollywood Reporter.
Criticism of the attempted-blockbuster-turned-massive-bust Lone Ranger is fine, Ellis implies, but not of The Canyons, which, although it gained buzz for featuring Lohan and porn actor James Deen, was made on the cheap. "We made this movie ourselves with no money, we didn't take $30 million from a studio. We did this on our own," he said. "I'm kind of confused by the loudness of the dislike."
Specifically, Ellis argued that the magnifying lens put up to Lohan's body was unfair and, well, pretty misogynistic.
"I could take people putting down my work and saying they don't like it, but being made fun of physically is really terrible," he says. "The amount of attention paid to her physicality and the nastiness — I don't know what it is. That's something that would probably get to me. I guess that's just what it means to be Lindsay in a way."
He added this about the criticism: "And I don't know if Lindsay brings something to that. I don't know if casting James did something, or if I'm such a polarizing figure."
Certainly, though, those negative critics had a point. Ellis admitted in the interview that he was inspired to write the movie by pulpy sex-crazed bestseller 50 Shades of Grey, and that Deen's character Christian is named after E.L. James's protagonist, the highly hormonal Christian Grey. Given those origins, Ellis probably shouldn't have been surprised that The Canyons has a 22% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as the negative reviews have left no stone unturned:
- "You could put a lot of work into figuring out what's wrong here, but why bother? Pretty much everything's wrong." (Tom Long, The Detroit News)
- "The Canyons isn't just bad, it's rank — and it takes a peculiar sort of integrity to denude the frame of life to the point where it smells to heaven." (David Edelstein, Vulture)
- "The Canyons is a limp and toothless piece of work from two artists who should know better." (Will Chadwick, We Got This Covered)
Well, that last one is at least a backhanded compliment. Sort of.
Ellis gained fame for penning Less Than Zero and American Psycho, but his status as a well-regarded member of the lit Brat Pack has not translated to cinematic success. That may have to do with his somewhat odd tastes. As he recently tweeted, "From a certain cinematic aesthetic/emotional place I guess I prefer Sharknado over Fruitvale Station on just about every single level." There may be no accounting for taste, but, seriously?
Ellis tried to appeal to fans when he live-tweeted The Canyons on opening night, but he then deleted his missives. That strategy did not appear to endear him to fans.
Photo by AP Photo/Luca Bruno