My Own Private River
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My Own Private River
Gus Van Sant,
USA | Format: Digital | 102 minutes
Director James Franco in person! Music by Michael Stipe!
Ticket holders are invited to a pre-reception from 8 to 9pm at the Furman Gallery.
Actor-director James Franco remixes River Phoenix. The star of Rise of the Planet of the Apes was 15 when Phoenix died at the age of 23, passing into legend and inspiring a devoted cult that endures to this day. Phoenix was immortalized in Gus Van Sant’s acclaimed and influential 1991 film My Own Private Idaho—the role of Mike, the Seattle hustler who loves and then loses slumming rich kid Scott (Keanu Reeves) proved to be the actor’s apotheosis. Twenty years on, this icon of sensitive youth has risen from the ashes: after spending two days watching the film’s dailies and outtakes with Van Sant, Franco edited together a new version combining footage from the original film and its unused residue. As Franco put it in a piece he wrote for The Paris Review: “Many filmmakers would consider the discarded material worthless, but sometimes—as when they feature an actor like River Phoenix in a film like My Own Private Idaho, the best of his generation giving his best performance—every scrap is gold. It was overwhelming to be able to cut the raw material of my favorite film, a film that had moved me, that had helped shape me as a teenager.” The end result, My Own Private River, is a dreamlike portrait of both the actor and the character he incarnates.
Plus: in the Furman Gallery, for the duration of Film Comment Selects, for River Phoenix (or James Franco) devotees who want more, there is more: extending his project into three-dimensional space, Franco has collaborated with Gus Van Sant on Memories of Idaho, an installation that re-creates an AA meeting hall featuring three related single-channel films: Idaho, Franco’s 62-minute Super-8 film based on one of the three original drafts Van Sant wrote and eventually combined into My Own Private Idaho; Narcolepsy (which consists of dailies); and the recently completed My Blue Funk.