Thursday, March 10, 2011

I'm Still Here

Wascally wascals Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck have played a joke on America. Only the joke isn’t funny and short of some publicity on Letterman and Access Hollywood, did anyone really care?

I’m Still Here is a mockumentary filmed by Affleck and Phoenix. According to the film, Phoenix decides to retire from acting and break into the rap game. On the road to rap stardom he completely falls apart; his breakdown accompanied by drugs and prostitutes. Surprise! It’s fake. Hilarious, right? Not really. The concept is clever; I’ll give them that. The resulting film is just hard to watch. It’s slow-moving, hard to follow, and at times, really gross. This movie reminded me a lot of Pauly Shore is Dead. Interesting concept, but in the end, nobody wants to watch.

Some critics believed the hype; this was the real Phoenix having a breakdown. Even one critic, whom I hold in high regard, seemed to believe it. In his review he says the film is pointless; watching Phoenix spiral out of control is pathetic. I agree that it is pointless, but that’s how you know it’s fake. Who would make a movie showing their buddy falling apart and doing drugs? It would be pointless and cruel. Also, wouldn’t there be legal ramifications if Phoenix really took that many drugs on screen? Phoenix does an insane amount of drugs on screen. What celebrity would really do that unless they were on Dr. Drew? Affleck is married to Joaquin’s sister, Summer. What decent human being would film their brother-in-law in such conditions, knowing that the family would see? What would be the point? This film only makes sense as a hoax; it only works as a celebrity spoof. Unfortunately it didn’t work for me.

There are moments where it seemed as though 12 year old boys got hold of the camera. It bounces around the room, in and out of focus, while the little boys giggle. You can’t even tell what the actors are saying half the time. And let me tell you, there are just way too many poop, vomit, and full frontal shots for my taste.

The one outstanding scene, which required some terrific acting on Phoenix’s part, is when he appears on Letterman to promote his new rap gig. Unfortunately, everyone already saw this part. I would have really liked to see the green room footage, or maybe something backstage with Letterman. They could have staged a fight or something; just something additional to what everyone saw already.

It takes a lot of talent to play yourself, and it takes a lot of guts to portray yourself in a negative way. So I admire Phoenix for that. I admire both Phoenix and Affleck for trying something different. The concept is a pretty good one, but I think it takes a dark turn. I would have enjoyed a movie about Phoenix becoming a rapper. That has comedy written all over it. Film the crowd reacting to the outfits and hilariously bad raps; leave the nudity and drugs out of it. The secret to a good lie is to not overdo it.

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