Welcome to 90 from the ‘90s; the movie-related post in which I watch, discuss and debate a film from the 1990s – a film that I’ve NEVER SEEN. Posting on a semi-regular basis, I aim to work my way through 90 movies that I’ve previously missed/avoided, recording my thoughts along the way.

I’m going to watch good films, bad films, forgotten classics, Oscar winners and everything in between. Some of these films you’ll be surprised I’ve never seen, others you’ll completely understand why I’ve avoided them for 20+ years.

The rules are as follows:

  • The film must be from the 1990s (1990-1999)
  • The film must be a movie I’ve not watched before

Today’s unseen ‘90s movie is…

My Own Private Idaho (1991)

I know very, very little about My Own Private Idaho, other than the fact the movie stars Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix and it was directed by Gus Van Sant. I’ve got no idea what the story is about, although I believe there is some kind of homosexual subtext or homoerotic imagery… or something. I know it’s a very iconic movie in terms of queer cinema, I just don’t know why.

As for why I’ve not watched this movie? There’s no specific reason why I’ve not watched My Own Private Idaho. Like many of the movies that form this ongoing series (’90 from the ’90s’), this is just one of those cases of never getting around to watching it.

Let’s see what the movie has to offer. I’m hoping something good. It certainly can’t be any worse than Waggons East. Can it?

*Clicks the play button*

4mins – Er… so, River Phoenix seems to suffer with the sleep disorder, narcolepsy. This has caused him to fall asleep in the middle of nowhere.

6mins – He’s just woken up and he appears to have a man hanging off the end of his private parts. I suppose it’s better than being woken up by a clock radio.

9mins – Right, he’s a rent boy.

10mins – A rent boy that also cleans apartments? Well, I suppose everybody has to have a USP these days. And that’s a hell of a USP!

12mins – Keanu Reeves has appeared on screen. Wooooooooaaaaaaah!

15mins – Keanu Reeves has just explained the science behind narcolepsy. Watching Keanu Reeves explain science just seems so wrong. I think it’s made me dumber.

19mins 50secs – Udo Kier! Udo Kier is here.

32mins – So Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix are hustlers, living amongst a group of homeless people, who are also hustlers. While none of them have any money, Reeves is a week away from inheriting a fortune. Oh, I hope he uses the money for the greater good.

32mins 30secs – I wish I was a week away from inheriting a fortune.

33mins – Although… I’d only waste it on Kinder eggs and crisps.

46mins – Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix are pretending to ‘do it’. For a film about rent boys, this film is surprisingly low on nudity and sex scenes.

47mins – And now Keanu Reeves is wearing a leather collar. He’s pretty much fully dressed, but he’s wearing a leather collar. Yeah, there’s no subtext here, it’s all text. I see why this movie is popular with certain audiences. And by ‘certain audiences’ I obviously mean people who like Keanu Reeves movies and/or films with leather collars.

51mins – The campfire scene. Even though I know nothing much about this movie, I’m familiar with the campfire scene – the scene in which River Phoenix opens up to Keanu Reeves about his feelings towards him. And he gets dissed.

1hr – And now a heart-to-heart with his dad. Bloody hell, this is an emotional rollercoaster.

1hr 4mins – River Phoenix is on the search for his mother. Oh, Udo Kier has just turned up again.

1hr 7mins – Udo Kier is being expressive with a lamp. That’s not a euphemism, he actually is being expressive with a lamp. I think he’s dancing. I mean, it’s no Cha-Cha Slide, but it’s a dance… of sorts.

1hr 17mins – The film just went very weird and arty, with partial nude shots of Keanu Reeves. It was like watching a student film. A well lit student film, with a better paid cast. So, nothing like a student film then.

1hr 21mins – Keanu and River are parting ways. You have to feel sorry for River Phoenix as he’s just been ditched by Keanu and pretty much been left in the middle of nowhere. Pretty shitty thing to do, Keanu. Pretty shitty indeed.

1hr 25mins – Homer Simpson cameo!

1hr 26mins – This film is pretty heartbreaking. Poor River Phoenix, he just wants to be loved.

1hr 28mins – Keanu has returned and he’s now wealthy. Will he still be a nice guy or an arsehole?

1hr 30mins – …He’s an arsehole.

1hr 36mins – River Phoenix has fallen asleep in the middle of the highway, but there’s no one to look out for him this time. And now he’s being robbed. 😦

1hr 39mins – As the film closes, River Phoenix is picked up by a stranger. There’s no indication of what will happen to him. Jeez, you can’t end there?

*Clicks stop*

That was a good movie. River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves were great and the film touched upon some emotional material.

I totally see why the film is popular amongst gay audiences – and it isn’t just because of the attractive leads. The idea of Phoenix’s character having unrequited love for Reeves’ character, who was only gay for pay is heartbreaking and is no doubt relatable to some members of the audience.

And yes, My Own Private Idaho was A MILLION TIMES BETTER THAN WAGGONS EAST. As if it could ever be worse.

15 down; 75 to go.

For past entries in the 90 from the ’90s series, check out: Wagons East (1994)In the Line of Fire (1993)Postcards from the Edge (1990)Universal Soldier (1992)Passenger 57 (1992)Mo’ Better Blues (1990)The Client (1994)Good Will Hunting (1997)Pump Up the Volume (1990)Mr. Nanny (1993) Fargo (1996)Hudson Hawk (1991)So I Married An Axe Murderer (1993) and Timecop (1994).