Three weeks ago, The New York Times Magazine published one of the most memorable articles about a troubled film production in recent memory. In “Here Is What Happens When You Cast Lindsay Lohan in Your Movie,” Stephen Rodrick recounted in harrowing detail the challenges director Paul Schrader (American Gigolo, Affliction) faced while trying to make the ultra low budget The Canyons with troubled star Lindsay Lohan. While this article included no shortage of unusual anecdotes (66-year-old Schrader strips naked at one point), one of the most puzzling revelations concerns someone who normally avoids this kind of troubled production: director Steven Soderbergh (Magic Mike, Contagion). Rodrick’s article explains that Soderbergh was so intrigued by the film that he offered to devote 72 hours to creating his own cut. Offended by Soderbergh’s presumptuousness, Schrader—who is best know for his legendary Taxi Driver script—declined the offer.
In fairness to Soderbergh, it seems that this disagreement may be reflective of a generational difference that is lost on Schrader. The process of rapidly creating a new cut for feedback purposes wasn’t possible when Schrader got his start in the ’70s—before the age of digital editing—but Soderbergh claims it’s more common today than you might think. “It’s something that I have done for other people and it’s something that other people have done for me,” he told Indiewire. “So for me to have had that discussion wasn’t unusual at all.”
While the New York Times article and the film’s struggles on the festival circuit (it was rejected by both Sundance and South by Southwest) have inspired some skepticism about its merit, Soderbergh insists that The Canyons is an impressive achievement—with one particularly striking sequence. “I like the way they did it,” he said. “I think it’s fascinating and there’s a spectacular sex scene in it.”