Busybody James Franco is at it again. Franco’s latest project had him reteaming with Gus Van Sant to produce two films, one of which totals a staggering 12 hours in footage! You may recall that Franco and Van Sant previously collaborated in 2008’s Oscar winning film Milk. Van Sant helped Franco prepare for that role by showing him footage and dailies from Gus Van Sant’s 1991 piece My Own Private Idaho (starring then young heartthrobs River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves), and that is exactly what these projects were inspired by and centered around.
The two films will be on display as part of an exhibition titled “Unfinished” at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills, California where eight Idaho inspired watercolor paintings of Gus Van Sant’s are also showing. From My Own Private Idaho’s treasure trove of behind the scenes footage, Franco has assembled two different works of “art”, one is called My Own Private River and the other is the aptly named 12 hour Endless Idaho.
The Gagosian website describes the latter in this little summary: “For Endless Idaho, Franco edited outtakes, deleted scenes, alternate takes, and behind-the-scenes footage from My Own Private Idaho into a 12-hour film. Endless Idaho provides an unprecedented look into the workaday process of making a movie, from location scouting to repeated takes. Like many of the films of Andy Warhol, a major influence on Van Sant’s own auteur style, it is a provocative, often riveting blend of documentary and fiction. Interviews with actual hustlers who played secondary characters in My Own Private Idaho are inter-cut with shots of River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves improvising and refining their performances under the direction of Van Sant and his crew. The music for Endless Idaho was composed by Luke Paquin and Tim O’Keefe.”
My Own Private River, the other, less bloated work, is simply put as “Shots of [River] Phoenix ‘s character, Mike, woven into a compelling portrait… That captures the gifted actor at his most emotionally expressive and physically dynamic.” The score is credited to REM’s Michael Stipe.
Unfinished opened its show at the Gagosian just in time for the Oscars on February 26th and will close out April 9th. No matter how the piece turns out, this is definitely a very unique twist on existing material and further develops James Franco’s abilities as a (performance) artist.