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Established November 2006  |  angel-river.net has no affiliation with the Phoenix Family

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FILM RISES LIKE A RIVER PHOENIX FROM THE ASHES

PAPERMAG - 2007

Once upon a time in the 1980s I did a movie with River Phoenix that was released under the title A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon. I played the older woman who shares a... a... who spends the night with... uh... who seduces... or rather... maybe... who is seduced by... oh well. You get the point. They call these women "cougars" now but I like to think the scenes we had together were slightly more multi-dimensional than just another Kim Cattrall fling in Sex and the City. Certainly the filmmakers had much more in mind than just another Ferris Bueller rip-off. But the studio, hoping to capitalize on River's teen appeal, did everything they could do dumb down the picture and turn it into a run-of-the-mill goofy teen comedy. Which it was not. (The film also features Ione Skye and Matthew Perry -- both barely out of the womb and full of plenty of teen appeal themselves.)

 

One of the main appeals of doing this movie was working with its dynamic director William Richert. Bill had serious cred and cult status after having directed the amazing film Winter Kills (which I love, love, LOVE!) His enthusiasm and passion for moviemaking was unlike any I'd encountered before (or since). It was that passion that led him to rail against the studio when they took away Jimmy Reardon and tried to turn it into a teen flick. It failed miserably because it was too dark and weird for the 14-year old girls and too convoluted for older audiences. Well, the movie may have a second life -- in the form the director originally intended. If all the critics respond as positively as Nathan Rabin has in his review of the new cut for The A.V. Club we may find there is cinematic justice in the world after all.

 

I was alerted to the link through a friend of a friend in an email whose subject was "The Past of Ann Magnuson." Needless to say, this scared the bejeesus out of me. Oh Lord, I thought, what NOW? When I read the HILARIOUS piece Mr. Rabin wrote I was pleasantly surprised. Under the heading "My Year of Flops" I wasn't too optimistic at first. But the changes seem to have worked in the film's favor.

 

Bill Richert's new cut of the film (which is not so new, he showed it to all us surviving cast members several years ago) is now titled Aren't You Even Gonna Kiss Me Goodbye? He restored the original lush and melancholic Elmer Bernstein score (how on earth can anyone strip a film of an original Elmer Bernstein score???) and also restored the original narration, spoken by Bill himself. (Having a wiser, world-weary older man narrate the exploits of his younger self is vastly different than listening to a teenage boy be-bop his way through a series of affairs.) These two elements actually do change the nature and intent of the film dramatically. Happily Mr. Rabin thought so and deemed the film a "Sweet Suprise" rather than abject failure, which has been it's fate until now.

 

Bill, being the passionate fellow that he is, sent this cut out to the media with a 19-page letter defending his positions and mercilessly railing, again, against the suits at 20th Century Fox. Apparantly in the letter it states that I (described as a "Lower East Side Sizzler" -- Ha ha! Thanks Bill! Where do I sent the fruit basket?) have refused to discuss the movie. Or something like that. That's not true. It was actually one of the most fun movie-making experiences I've ever had. I just refused to talk to the predators who swept down after River tragically died that awful Halloween night at the Viper Room. He was a wonderful kid. So idealistic and sweet. I always thought he should have taken off with a backpack for Katmandu or gone to work in the Peace Corps after that film. Instead he got swept up in the fast lane which did not seem to suit his personality at all. Rest in Peace, River. I'm sure you are somewhere doing something far more important than making movies now.

 

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