My Own Private River (2012) Poster

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James Franco's Phoenix documentary - TOTALLY AWESOME
faithisagoodthing28 October 2015
I was extremely crazy in love with River Phoenix (RIP) when I was younger and I still welcome everything about him now, more than 20 years after his tragic death.

Furthermore, I never thought, I would be able to watch this amazing documentary.

So, to my surprise, I just had the great opportunity to watch this brilliant documentary by the extremely talented James Franco and high praise also to Gus Van Sant for providing footage of the original title My Own Private Idaho (everyone should also check out that classic movie which should have gained some Oscars).

Oh, I watched this via YouTube, so not sure how long this documentary will stay up and how the person who loaded this onto YouTube got hold of this full documentary but very grateful.

Anyway, this documentary is just WOW, Franco truly respects River Phoenix and it shows, everything was just perfect.

I have to be honest, this reminded me more of a film than a documentary but remembering how awesome River Phoenix was as an actor, is just something so very special; especially, since all this came from pooled never before deleted footage.

I mean all this footage from this documentary could easily have gone into the original movie, might have been slightly different but still, what quality work from all cast members that I saw.

It was nice to see Keanu Reeves, who is in this documentary quite a lot (not in every single seen) but enough to please his fans, not sure what the previous reviewer was talking about? Also, this documentary is to showcase River Phoenix and his talents, so no one should be surprised that the focus is on him more hence the title of this documentary.

Hopefully, everyone will get the opportunity to see this excellent documentary on the big screen sometime soon.

However, I sincerely understand perfectly well, why it would be extremely difficult for the Phoenix family to change their minds again from what I have read and say no, as well as the distribution company of the original movie.

The original movie will always be there nothing can take that classic away and importantly this documentary only adds respectfulness to his legacy (his family would not need to worry but I am sure still difficult to experience), plus everyone knows James Franco is a huge fan of his and the involvement of Gus Van Sant, helps to demonstrate why River Phoenix was one of the best actors of his generation and if only he could have gone on to do much much more.

Anyway, this documentary will make you cry due to the sensitive nature of River Phoenix powerful performance (the whole cast = powerful) and of course the tragic loss of him so soon after the original movie was completed but if you do get to see this outstanding documentary (I feel very lucky) then do so, a must for Phoenix fans and thank you very much James Franco for undertaking such a documentary, he will never be forgotten (I knew I liked Franco for a reason - quality director/actor).
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Basically just "Idaho" with more River, and less Keanu...
So, the idea for this film allegedly came, when James Franco hung out with his good friend Gus Van Sant, and they decided to view all the old film-reels from "My Own Private Idaho", and Franco thought it'd be a good idea to re-cut the movie, extending as many scenes as possible with the late River Phoenix, and instead leaving out almost the entire Keanu Reeves-storyline, along with a few other scenes as well.

While it doesn't feel badly cut or chopped up, it still feels kinda weird watching it, knowing that it wasn't this way the movie was meant to be seen. But even so, it is still a very interesting film, and would be greatly appreciated by fans of either River Phoenix, James Franco, and/or Gus Van Sant... fans of Keanu Reeves might not be so pleased, though.
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Very interesting for Idaho fans, but could it stand alone?
ekeby13 May 2017
This is NOT a documentary, as the longest review here suggests. Another reviewer gets it right: it's literally My Private Idaho reworked with added material that had been cut out of the original. The added footage features, primarily, River Phoenix's character, and the focus of the reworked film is on his hustler character rather than Keanu Reeve's character. Hence the title.

I call the characters by the actors' names because I can't remember their character names, and because, in the minds of many people like myself (a gay man), the two actors have become one with the roles they played. Again, hence the title.

I'm interested when films have been re-cut or reworked, so I found this fascinating. But I'm not sure anyone seeing this film without having first seen Idaho would have any clear idea of what's going on. In that context, this film feels more like a spin-off of Idaho. The sequence of events is the same, but most of Idaho's plot line has been jettisoned. We mainly see the effects of the plot on the River Phoenix character. One more time: hence the title.

So the result is, curiously, a film that has more focus than Idaho, but at the same time it's even less intelligible. I love Idaho, but let's get real: it's one messy masterpiece. Who among us (Idaho fans) has seen it only once? Idaho is one of those movies that isn't really comprehensible until you've seen the whole thing. It's the sum of its parts. So once you understand it, you want to see it again to more enjoy the parts as they add up to the sum. If that makes sense.

There seems to be more arty footage included than in Idaho. You know, shots of clouds, of skylines, or distant landscapes. But perhaps I'm remembering incorrectly. Maybe it's all in Idaho and it just isn't as noticeable as it is in this "plot-less" version. But this will give you an idea of what to expect from James Franco: Art with a capital A.
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Cut Scenes would have landed River an Oscar
Laurie A19 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Wow, I just watched this last night due to the the second review on this page. The first one I too have no idea what they are speaking about, Keanu Reeves is all over this film, nearly every scene. If you've seen My Own Private Idaho, then you will get the film, if you haven't, I suggest you see it first.

I will never understand why River wasn't nominated for an Oscar that year. The Oscars back then would slight younger artists due to their age and assumed they had plenty of time to win them, not in River's case and it's a shame because he deserved it. Had GVS added a couple of these scenes like the one with Keanu/Scotty in Roma next to the bed when Mike is pretending to meet his mother and doesn't know what to say to her for the first time or extended the hugging of Scotty next to the fire where he actually crawls up on his lap and shows just raw emotions of what Mike really needed. I literally started to cry during that. Not only did it make me realize just how much I missed River Phoenix, but what a truly gifted actor he was and the younger generation missed out on him tragically as did we. I believe River would have had many statues on his mantle had he lived, he was the best actor of our generation hands down. Every scene was done with ease and this movie makes you long for every director out there who holds unseen footage of River to release it to the public.

It's still up on youtube and I would highly suggest you watch it, it captivated me the entire film. River and Keanu, are both captivating. I do want to add that this film is great for Keanu Reeves fans like myself, it shows just what a great actor he truly is too. You can also see their true friendship shine through in this footage and I believe that is why Franco chose to put so much of Keanu and River together. The motorcycle scenes are my favorite. I could watch those to riding on a motorcycle forever. Just seeing them goofing around or riding through the deserted roads at sunset is stunning to watch.

So yes, this film, although it has no plot, is worth the watch and it saddens me that some of these scenes were cut out of the movie, it not only put it together more for me, but I think it robbed River of at the very least an Oscar Nomination.
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