Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: Lovelace vs. The Canyons, two films with pornographic leanings.
PremiseAmanda Seyfried plays the adorably seductive porn star Linda Lovelace, famous for her starring role Deep Throat (1972), one of the most popular pornographic films of all time (even the New York Times called it “porno-chic”). Lovelace’s life story is far from elegant, however. Her marriage to the viciously controlling Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard) is violent and destructive, and the industry eventually drives her towards drugs, painkillers, and overall public humiliation. Lindsay Lohan, who has also suffered at the hands of the film industry (albeit not the “adult” film industry), makes a comeback of sorts in The Canyons, a film about making a film. Slated for release first on demand, the film is meant for “watching in the comfort of your own home,” as the promotion cheekily instructs. In reference to seeing movies in theaters, Lohan’s character nonchalantly denounces in the trailer, “I guess it’s just not my thing anymore.” Her thing, it seems, is having her director boyfriend film her and her lover on his cell phone.Advantage: Lovelace
Casting“It’s a movie like any other movie,” says Seyfried’s bubbly character in reference to Deep Throat, “Only it has so many better things in it… like me.” It’s a statement that reigns true for Lovelace as well, which is made all the better with its star-studded cast. Alongside Sarsgaard (who’s previously held villainous roles in films like An Education and Boys Don’t Cry) and Seyfried, other cast members include Chloë Sevigny, Juno Temple, an unrecognizable Sharon Stone, Adam Brody, and James Franco as Hugh Hefner. The Canyons only has Lohan and porn star James Deen to boast about, and we’re not sure the decision to cast Lohan as the lead will work in the film’s favor.Advantage: Lovelace
VisualsSet in the scenic Hollywood Hills, The Canyons seems like a pornographic version of Drive with a booming electronic soundtrack, endless slow-motion scenes, and neon lighting throughout. Although we dig Seyfried in bellbottoms and seeing gratuitous ’70s handlebar mustaches, the setting of The Canyons, paired with its modern cinematography, is far more seductive. Advantage: The Canyons
SeedinessBeing a film about one of the sleaziest businesses on Earth, it takes a certain talent to turn Lovelace into a tasteful Hollywood blockbuster. While the trailer may be appropriate for all audiences, the film itself incredibly dark. The Canyons is seedy in every sense of the word—R-rated phone footage, threesomes, foursomes, a storyline by Bret Easton Ellis. Porn star James Deen tried to convince us in an interview that although he has sex in the film, it’s actually “not very sexual.” But his standards might be a little off. So, The Canyon has seediness as its one advantage, if that’s what you’re into.Advantage: The Canyons
HypeWatching stars like Lindsay Lohan is often described as watching an car accident (figuratively and literally, in the case of Lohan): you can’t seem to look away even though you really, really want to. And the filming was exactly that: a train wreck. What was supposed to take three weeks ended a month later with director Paul Schrader, who wrote hits like Raging Bull and Taxi Driver, “standing naked in a Malibu bedroom, missing his dogs and trying to coax Lohan out of her robe.” There’s no doubt that Lohan’s pseudo comeback in The Canyons will drive people to theaters (or iTunes)—and its open casting call brought the film attention long before the trailer’s release—but Lovelace has got a lot more going for it. Not only is the cast list lengthy and renowned, but it’s already had a successful run on the festival circuit. Advantage: Lovelace
VerdictDespite Lovelace’s dark and upsetting subject matter, we’re excited to see Seyfried play the challenging role of the Deep Throat star that eventually left the porn industry behind for good. The cast also guarantees a thoughtful and entertaining experience. Winner: Lovelace
Trailer Face-Off runs every Thursday. For more, click here.