Where Spurs Are A-Jinglin’: Gus Van Sant’s Sleepy Masterpiece My Own Private Idaho in 35mm

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

06 My Own Private Idaho_600

Wednesday, February 17th @ 7:30 PM
Directed by Gus Van Sant • 1991
A sleepy, slow-burning adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho is one of the finest American independent films of a brief and now-gone era when major studios still saw value in funding the weird, the sublime, and the small budget (or was it just a dream?). Centered around the experiences of a narcoleptic hustler in Portland (River Phoenix), the film borrows its checkerboard structure from William S. Burroughs, tossing and turning through the Pacific Northwest. Keanu Reeves is River’s love interest, another streetwalker who left his family (his father, the Mayor of Portland) but has an inheritance to collect when he turns twenty-one and will “leave this life behind.” Van Sant has developed a reputation for having one foot inside Hollywood (Milk, Good Will Hunting) and one firmly outside of it (Last Days, Elephant), but Idaho—a road movie, an urban western, and a coming-of-age film tied together with the soft and reassuring voice of Eddy Arnold—makes such distinctions irrelevant, bound only by a sense of place and time. (JA)
104 min • Fine Line Features • 35mm from Warner Brothers/Swank

Preceded by: “Junior” (Gus Van Sant, 1992) – 16-to-35mm blowup – 4 min
Print courtesy of the Gus Van Sant Collection at the Academy Film Archive.


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