Last night at the Viper Room

LAST NIGHT AT THE VIPER ROOM: RIVER PHOENIX AND THE HOLLYWOOD HE LEFT BEHIND

by GAVIN EDWARDS

viperoom

River Phoenix was just 23 years old when he died following an overdose of heroin and cocaine. He died on the pavement outside Johnny Depp’s Viper Room club on Halloween 1993. I was only 13 at the time and along with several of my classmates, did not take news of his death well. Being so young we hadn’t even seen his films but he was our misunderstood pretty-boy pin up who loved animals and wanted to save the rainforests. “R.I.P RIVER” we tippex-ed on our pencil cases.

Over 20 years on, his memory has faded though his devastatingly short life still holds intrigue for many of us. In his book, Gavin Edwards has brilliantly documented the troubled young actor’s life. We follow him from an unconventional childhood brought up by his hippy parents in a religious cult. He never went to school and the family moved around a lot throughout the U.S and Latin America. Later on during interviews, River would tell many different versions of his early years but it was largely understood that he was sexually active/abused in the cult and carried the burden of family breadwinner from an impossibly young age – encouraged to busk, beg and even scavenge to feed his parents and siblings.

river

This beautiful, blonde boy sang and played guitar on the streets and was soon noticed and began attending Hollywood auditions. This led initially to TV ads and small roles and an upswing in the Phoenix clan’s finances. His first big break came in the film Stand By Me. Although he went on to be Oscar nominated for his part in Running On Empty, Stand By Me is thought to be the jewel in River’s screen legacy.

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Nice book, dude

FAN PHENOMENA: THE BIG LEBOWSKI

BY ZACHARY INGLE

Blog - big lebowski book and dvd

 

This book really is for the obsessive fans of The Big Lebowski film – of which there are thousands going by the name of Achievers or Dudeists.

I’m one of those, maybe not the most fanatical, but I love this movie dearly and have watched it over and over – and yeah I have my favourite quotes and catchphrases from it too (scroll down for my Top 5).

Blog - cuss words

Rewind to 1998 when directors/ geniuses Joel and Ethan Coen first made this film, little would they have known then that the picture would go on to triple its budget in the box office, generate a cult following and even spawn a slow moving religion.

Many argue that Lebowski is the most significant cult film of the last 30 years and I tend to agree – can you think of another? Maybe, but I can’t.

The hilarious story of The Dude, a post-hippy slacker and his chum Walter – a violent, compulsive, bowling obsessed, Jewish convert, Vietnam veteran has inspired Lebowski conventions to spring up worldwide and the sheer wealth of related material and memorabilia out there is staggering. Continue reading

Burton’s last epic

THE RICHARD BURTON DIARIES

EDITED BY CHRIS WILLIAMS

Burton diary cover

Richard Burton was at one time Hollywood’s most highly paid actor, famed as much for his epic romance with glamorous Elizabeth Taylor and his heavy drinking, as he was for his magnetic performances on stage and screen.

Throughout much of his life, Burton kept a diary. Although he dismissed them as “merely a daily exercise in the observation of frustration,” they have now provided us with an invaluable insight into the life and mind of the legendary actor.

His diaries were published for the first time in full last year having been lovingly edited and referenced by Chris Williams using Burton’s original journals plus other photographs, newspapers, recordings, scripts and books.

The resulting 654 pages are utterly brilliant and as compelling a read as any great novel. Burton is articulate, charming, callous and full of fun and gossip. He writes with such a beautiful and poetic voice that you feel yourself falling for him.

Burton documents a life well lived amongst famous friends and the elite. Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando cop quite a bit of his wrath throughout!

 burton and taylor pose

As well as a journal of his own life it is also interesting to read Burton’s take on history, current affairs, travel and sport. From the moon landings to Churchill, Mussolini to golf, Burton offers intelligent opinions on the topics of the day.

The ease with which he uses quotes from, among others, Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas and  Yeats  to illustrate his thoughts and feelings is a tremendous delight to read and reread. You find yourself marvelling at his cleverness and recall.

We discover that he found the actual daily business of making movies a bore and that he sought other activities to stimulate his mind. He was a very well read man; devouring books almost at the same rate he did vodka and liking nothing better than hiding away from his family and his entourage with a good, or bad, novel. He also studied many languages including French, Italian, Spanish and Russian and liked to watch his weight with what he called “the drinking man’s diet.”

Below I have compiled my favourite Burton quotes from these diaries on subjects such as his darling Elizabeth Taylor, doctors, drinking, social occasions and attacking paparazzi. Please read on, these extracts are beautifully written and often hilarious in their spiteful observation. Who doesn’t love a witty put down? Continue reading