Director Gus Van Sant is James Deen’s Shrink in The Canyons

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from – In a sly piece of casting, Paul Schrader has hired his fellow filmmaker Gus Vant Sant to play a psychiatrist – or more likely psychotherapist – in “The Canyons,” reports The Playlist. Although Van Sant has appeared (or at least spoken) in tiny parts in five of his own movies and has had a cameo in “Entourage,” he has never previously acted for another director in a theatrical movie.

Stills of Van Sant’s scenes in the film, a contemporary Los Angeles noir written by Bret Eaton Ellis, depict him in session in his book-lined office with the protagonist, Christian, who is played by the 26-year-old crossover porn star James Deen. The film’s female star is Lindsay Lohan.

A blurb that was issued from the production of the low-budget movie says it is about “the dangers of sexual obsession and ambition, both personally and professionally, among a group of young people in their 20s and how one chance meeting connected to the past unravels all of their lives, resulting in deceit, paranoia, cruel mind games, and, ultimately, violence.”

Though milled from Ellis’s fixation on the young and dissolute, it sounds like fitting material for the Schrader who directed “Hardcore,” “American Gigolo,” and “Auto Focus.”

Christian is described as a “trust fund kid, power player, and major manipulator, who is a film producer [who] enjoys filming his own three-way sex sessions.” Lohan is his girlfriend Tara, an ex-model who “has sold her pride for the material comforts Christian can provide.”

A teaser trailer for the film, edited by Joey Fantastico and released in July, amounted to a lustrous travelogue, minus the actors, of Hollywood landmarks and ominous-looking office towers. But “The Canyons” may not emerge in that pristine style. Schrader has said that the look of the movie, which is being photographed by John DeFazio, is inspired by Wong Kar-wai’s neon-lit Hong Kong nocturne “Fallen Angels” and Xavier Dolan’s dreamy, chemically colored Canadian love-triangle drama Heartbeats (itself influenced by Wong).

Lohan wrapped her scenes in the movie last Thursday. One of her final acts, apparently, was to make the crew strip down to their underwear before they filmed her doing a sex scene. It has since been announced that she will continue her comeback alongside Charlie Sheen in “Scary Movie 5.”

That exploitative bit of casting won’t affect the possibility that Schrader may have elicited something special from an actress whose talent has often been obscured by her troubles. After Robert Altman, who directed her in his last film, 2006’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” he is only the second bona fide auteur to give the 26-year-old Lohan a chance to shine. Beside her, Van Sant the thesp is a comparative virgin.

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