25 years ago in 1991, Gus Van Sant released his masterpiece, My Own Private Idaho. The film starred Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix as street hustlers in the Pacific Northwest in a loose re-telling of Shakespeare’s “Henry IV.” Idaho was one of the first flicks I saw at the first art house theater to become an important part of my life — the Odeon in Frandor, Michigan, just up the road from Michigan State.
In 2012 polymath James Franco released a feature length cut of the film’s unused footage which he’d secured from Van Sant. The two filmmakers worked together on Milk when Franco told his director about his obsession with River Phoenix:
“I never wanted this to be seen as in competition with [‘My Own Private Idaho’] or in any way trying to outdo that film,” said Franco at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, which screened the film to a packed house of Francophiles and River Phoenix fans at the Walter Reade Theater Sunday night. “I was able to let the camera sit with River a lot longer in this film because ‘My Own Private Idaho’ had been made. This one can be supported by the prior film.”
Here’s My Own Private River…