Re-Watch: My Own Private Idaho (1991)

My Own Private Idaho
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer: Gus Van Sant
Based on: William Shakespeare‘s Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and Henry V (loosely)
Cast: River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, James Russo, William Richert, Rodney Harvey, Chiara Caselli, Flea, Grace Zabriskie, Udo Kier
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2018

Mike (River Phoenix) and Scottie (Keanu Reeves) are hustlers, living in the streets of Portland. Scottie has been living this way for longer than Mike and shows Mike the ropes a little, introducing him to Bob Pigeon (William Richert) who is something between a pimp and a father figure for a lot of more or less homeless hustlers in the city. Scottie also takes care of Mike when he has one of his narcoleptic spells. Despite their closeness, there’s a chasm between Mike and Scottie as Mike doesn’t have many choices to live the way he does, while Scottie comes from a rich family and chose to hustle to embarrass them.

I saw My Own Private Idaho around 20 years ago and I understood very little of it back then. Seeing it now, opened up the film to me much more. That in itself is already a beautiful experience, but even without that part of the experience, the film is wonderful.

The film poster showing River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves.
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Henry IV Part 1

Henry IV Part 1
Director: Gregory Doran
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Antony Sher, Alex Hassell, Jasper Britton, Sam Marks, Trevor White, Paola Dionisotti

After taking over the throne from Richard II, Henry IV (Jasper Britton) struggles with his conscience and the reign as disquiet is brewing in the country. Meanwhile his son Hal (Alex Hassell) spends his time with women, getting drunk and a fair bit of thieving with his partner in crime and debauchery, Falstaff (Antony Sher). But as the provocations of the rebels around Hotspur (Trevor White) continue, it becomes clear that things will not end peacefully.

Henry IV Part 1 is a beautifully set in scene, well-acted production of a play I did not find access to at all. I thought it was boring, particularly because I didn’t care much for the main characters.

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Henry IV [Part One] (William Shakespeare)


Henry IV is a play (in two parts) by William Shakespeare, of which I’ve read the first part.

King Henry IV has troubles with the Scottish, which keep him from going on a crusade to redeem himself from acquiring his throne forcefully. Additionally, a rebellion is stirring, led by the Percy family and Edmund Mortimer, named rightful successor by Richard II.
At the same time, King Henry’s son Henry (or Hal) also troubles his father by being generally subversive. Hal hangs out with a ragtag group of people, most notably John Falstaff, who is a kind of father figure for him.

I don’t think that I have to point out that Shakespeare is really good. But let me say that I really liked Henry IV. It was a rather quick read (as plays usually are), beautifully written, full of vivid characters and some of the greatest insults ever.

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