Excerpt: Anyone hoping to walk away from "I'm Still Here" confident in their resolve to either laugh at or laugh with Joaquin Phoenix's languished attempt at self-discovery is apt to find disappointment.
Summary: To preface my thoughts about I'm Still Here , let me give you a quote from the introduction to my June 2009 review of Two Lovers , the last film Joaquin Phoenix did before he "retired" from acting, grew a Hasidic lumberjack beard, and embarked on a laugh-out-loud-worthy hip hop career: "Okay, Joaquin, the jig is up. You can ditch the sunglasses and take a razor to that beard. You hoodwinked Hollywood, point proved.
Excerpt: The Film If you've ever had even the most minor crush on Joaquin Phoenix, I'm Still Here should clear up that business up pretty damn quick. Here, the actor crosses that fine line between being funny and being a total a-hole. Directed by his buddy and brother-in-law Casey Affleck, this "documentary" follows Phoenix on the binge to becoming a rap star.
Excerpt: When Joaquin Phoenix had what appeared to be a complete mental meltdown on David Letterman's show a few years ago (where apparently every star seems to flock for their own personal Chernobyl), fans and industry experts speculated as to what was happening. Was Mr. Phoenix really losing his mind? Was this all a ploy for attention? A hoax? A disaster? A few years later we got our answer with I'm Still Here , a pseudo-documentary directed by Casey Affleck (brother of Ben).
Excerpt: There are 6.8 billion people on this planet and most of them don’t know who you are and don’t want to. Maybe you’ll be famous, maybe you’ll be on television, but those people will still never know the real you. At best they’ll only know the public you. They have lives to live and yours can’t be the center of their universe. You shouldn’t matter to them. What does matter is that the people closest to you understand you, unless of course, you’re an insane narcissist.
Excerpt: Ever since Joaquin Phoenix announced he was quitting acting in order to pursue a career in hip-hop, the entertainment world has been asking whether he was engaging in some sort of elaborate prank, an Andy Kaufman-esque performance-art stunt. I’m Still Here , the promised documentary about Phoenix’s “lost year” of trying to make it in hip-hop, just muddies the waters further.
Summary: I’m Still Here echoes Exit From The Gift Shop in its ability to provoke conversations about its truthfulness that dwarf examination of its subject matter, and for many folks like myself this happened before reaching the theatre. That’s a shame, because picking apart this film as it unfolds seriously detracts from the overall experience. Self-indulgent? Definitely. Funny? Mostly. Real? It actually doesn’t matter.
Excerpt: A documentary that gives the both the subject and the director writing credits, is perhaps not a documentary. "I'm Still Here" is as audacious as it is reckless, or perhaps a better description for the film and its star is wrecked. We see an actor seemingly discard his script and don his vulnerability, wearing it on the outside, unkempt and tormented. The Hollywood industry laughs and so does the public, at a stumbling mumbling freak.