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My Own Private Idaho

Thursday, August 11, 2016, 8 p.m., Dryden Theatre

(Gus Van Sant, US 1991, 104 min., 35mm)

Shakespeare. Director Gus Van Sant’s third feature returns to the territory of Drugstore Cowboy, this time in a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, and Henry V, where its kingdom is an abandoned tenement in Portland, Oregon. Mike (River Phoenix) is holy fool to Scott’s (Keanu Reeves) Prince Hal, slumming it among hustlers in the Pacific Northwest before coming into a large inheritance from his father, the mayor of Portland. Mike suffers from narcolepsy, a device that leaves pregnant gaps in the narrative. He wakes in Scott’s care, where he is introduced to a court of squatters, hustlers, and drifters. A landmark of American independent and New Queer Cinema, this tragic comedy exudes a sweet romanticism, while depicting social class as an impossible divide. Members admitted free.