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Further Phoenix
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Los Angeles


Terry Gilliam

Jonathan Pryce

George Sluizer

Dark Blood

My Own Private Idaho

Mike Waters

Judy Davis

The Vanishing

New York

Bob Pigeon

Agnieszka Holland


World Cinema: Diary of a Day

Peter Cowie

Jack and Jill

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

World Cinema: Diary of a Day

Edited by Peter Cowie.
First Published in 1995.

ISBN 0-87951-573-2 (Hardback, 416 Pages)

Published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of movie-making, this book immediately promised to be an intriguing read given that it was the result of such an unusual idea. More than one thousand individuals involved in the film industry from all over the world were invited to write a journal about what they were doing on just one specific day - Thursday, June 10, 1993. This book, is an edited compilation of over four hundred of those written logs with all aspects of film production carefully represented by the inclusion of contributions from such professionals as directors, screen-writers, actors, make-up artists and costume designers.

River is first referred to surprisingly early on in the book - the third entry to be precise, as Agnieszka Holland, a Polish actress who was in Los Angeles on that day recalls a particularly poignant encounter with River.

Awfully busy day. Los Angeles. Hot.

Then a loose evening with my sister and friends; we came back to the hotel at 1 A.M. (already June 10). I knew that River was late for his plane and that he arrived after 10 P.M. I thought he would be asleep (in Florida, where he came from, it was already 4 A.M.) but a receptionist gave me a bunch of messages from him, and I am told that he's still awake. I called him; he demands to meet me immediately. He was sweating, drunk, tired, very beautiful. I suspected that he had just read Jack and Jill, a screenplay by Robbie Baitz which is supposed to be my next movie. He very much wants to play Adam. He played Adam for an hour. He achieved what he wanted; I escaped from his room, I was dying of fatigue, but I was sure that none of the other wonderful actors I had met for this role would have such truthfulness, would have such courage and self-awareness of auto-destruction as River does.

Opposite this entry is the first of two photographs in which River is depicted. This one being the well-known My Own Private Idaho publicity shot featuring Mike Waters holding the flower at Bob Pigeon's funeral. There's no entry from River to be found within the book, but he is talked of in the journals of several other contributors.

For example, director Terry Gilliam briefly refers to River as he recounts the meeting he had with actor Jonathan Pryce. His friend stopped by that day to seek advice as to which of two conflicting film offers he should accept - a big budget Hollywood movie or an all-together much smaller and low-key film by a Dutch director. That movie was in fact Dark Blood and one intriguing submission comes from the director of that film, George Sluizer. It's particularly interesting to note that the seeds of conflict were already evident even at this early stage of planning, several months before filming of the movie had even begun.

George Sluizer, a Dutchman with a cosmopolitan flair, reached a sudden and wholly deserved place in the sun with The Vanishing (1988). This year he was in the midst of shooting Dark Blood when River Phoenix, one of the principal stars, collapsed and died outside a Los Angeles nightclub on October 31. The film had to be shut down and abandoned. This entry was of course written before the disaster:

Jetlag. Just flown in [to New York] from Amsterdam for pre-production on Dark Blood. I am called regarding the wish to alter or amend my already signed contract, so that there can be a sexy, sexier, sexiest version of the movie depending on national and censorship rules. It makes me feel like a pimp selling sex, instead of filming according to emotion.

6 P.M. Long phone conversation with Judy Davis about her profession in Dark Blood, and some of her character's motivations. Talked a lot about breast implants! In retrospect - this is after hanging up - I was irritated by our partly frivolous talk. Some of us make movies because we are unable to communicate. With a bit of exaggeration, I might add that I like filming in order to avoid the telephone.

Despite all that, I started, two days ago, to work on a new scenario I had put off for some time. The film relates to all the widespread massacres in the world - and the Middle East has been their most fertile ground...

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