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Further Phoenix
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Rain Phoenix

Silent Tongue

My Own Private Idaho

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

Mike Waters

Sissy Hankshaw

Bonanza Jellybean

Gus Van Sant

Scott Favor

Keanu Reeves

Alan Bates

Richard Harris

Tom Robbins

Toronto Film Festival

Images in the Dark

Raymond Murray
Rio's Attic: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Dearly Missed River Phoenix
American EnglishEn Français

Images in the Dark

by Raymond Murray.
First published in 1998.

ISBN 1-84023-033-9 (Paperback, 622 Pages)

Raymond Murray, the proprietor of a chain of video stores in Philadelphia, has painstakingly assembled a comprehensive encylopedia of almost every cinema-related gay subject.

The author does not limit his book to just gay-themed movies. Many other chapters discuss the works of gay and lesbian directors, movie-stars, writers and composers. Also to be found is a section that will be of interest to transgendered individuals.

River is mentioned only a few times throughout the book. His sister, Rain Phoenix, is also briefly credited for her role as Bonanza Jellybean in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. Somewhat curiously though, Murray also chooses to list Silent Tongue in this reference work too.

Silent Tongue
The final theatrical release of River Phoenix, this involving though labored ghost story is slightly odd, but it achieves a poetic, mystical tone. Set in the Old West, the film casts Bates as a slimy sideshow owner who traded his Indian daughter to pioneer Richard Harris for his son (Phoenix) to marry. However, after the woman dies in childbirth, Harris returns to negotiate for Bates' remaining daughter to comfort his near-mad, grieving son - whose refusal to bury his wife causes her spirit to seek vengeance. Silent Tongue is an unusual, slowly paced but nevertheless gripping treatise on 19th-century Western culture, and features showy but sound performances from the entire cast.

Celebrating the work of gay directors, the author discusses the history, life and career of Gus Van Sant in some detail.

His My Own Private Idaho was a critical and art-house hit, despite its "unsavory" theme and the casting of teenage heartthrob River Phoenix as a gay prostitute.

His much publicized troubles with his adaptation of Tom Robbins' counterculture comedy Even Cowgirls Get the Blues was a risky venture that proved difficult to pull off. After a less-than-enthusiastic response at the 1993 Toronto Film Festival, the film was pulled from its intended Fall opening and re-scheduled for a Spring 1994 release, reportedly so Van Sant could go back to the editing room. Despite the additional work, the film opened to generally unfavorable notices and tepid box office.

ISBN 0-45227-627-6 (Paperback, 599 Pages)

Sissy soon becomes embroiled in a cowgirl uprising headed by the "charismatic" Bonanza Jellybean (actually a catatonic Rain Phoenix). The lesbian affair is really the best-handled aspect of the film as the transfixed Sissy and gun-totin' Bonanza make for a believable and touching couple.

Spanning a century of film-making, it was heart-warming to see that in one particular edition, it was felt that just one movie-contributor was worthy of appearing on both the front and back covers of the book.

River Phoenix is nothing short of brilliant in his portrayal of Mike Waters, a solitary, narcoleptic gay street hustler searching for his long-lost mother. Keanu Reeves co-stars as Scott, a slumming beauty and the unresponsive object of Mike's love. Dreamily photographed, with mood ranging from hilarious to tragic to highly erotic, the film is a tender, knowing look at life on the streets. River's quietly pleadful declaration (much of it improvised by the actor himself) of love to Keanu as they sit couched in front of an outdoor fire is a "perfect moment" in gay filmmaking.

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