08 February 2011

OMENS: I'm Still Here

I'm Still Here

Starring Joaquin Phoenix. Written by Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck. Directed by Casey Affleck. Released: 10 September 2010. Magnolia Pictures, 106 mins., Rated R.

Plot: Friend and director Casey Affleck chronicles the 'lost year' of Joaquin Phoenix who retires from acting to pursue a career in hip hop, and the many tribulations and ridicule he receives from the media.

"Fuck! Nobody understands me!" If watching Joaquin Phoenix yell this in frustration while smoking his sixth cigarette in any given scene, then I'M STILL HERE is most definitely for you! If, however, you're looking for a 'documentary' of substance, a portrait of a actors life as he just goes batshit crazy and learns a little something in the end, avoid at all costs.

Rachel said it best when she commented that "once you know something like this is a joke, it's impossible to judge as anything but that." When Joaquin appeared on David Letterman a week or so after I'M STILL HERE was released and he and Casey Affleck, director and friend, revealed that the events of the last year and his retirement was untrue and that the film was more or less a 'artistic' attempt at showing a man just mentally busting as well as the effects media has on a actor, I was at least intrigued and could respect Phoenix and Affleck on what they were trying to do. But as Rachel said, it's so very difficult to judge this movie as what they were aiming for when all you see is one giant performance of a 'character' that is just a mean, jackassy bastard. What the Joaquin Phoenix in the movie does, and how he acts, is repulsive at times - his beating and insulting of his friends, his ridiculing tone to anyone who disagrees with him, his disregard for proper edict at premieres and all around obnoxious behavior.

I think, considering what Phoenix and Affleck were aiming for, a proper movie would have conveyed their intent better. When it comes to I'M STILL HERE (not only a self-referential jokey title, but also apparently a name of one of his hip hop songs from the film), I frankly can't help but see one giant joke, one giant rather misguided attempt at saying something instead of a captivating tale of a man in crisis and the media's relentless coverage of his life. I get it: life as a celebrity can be rough, difficult, and a all-around bitch. But this documentary didn't quite achieve their goal. It's painful at multiple points, which I'm gathering was the intent, with scenes of Phoenix pissing off Ben Stiller and leaving P Diddy nearly speechless and hella confused, not to mention a scene or two with Phoenix, his friend and some, ahem, escorts.

It's true that the film held my attention all the way through, but really, it was more 'what the hell is Phoenix going to do now?' that kept my interest moreso than the steep decline of this man's psyche. Nonetheless, in retrospect from a acting P.O.V., Phoenix really took method acting to a whole new level (real vomit(!!!)) and if it wasn't for all the controversy and mystery surrounding the film, he would have created one of the deepest, layered, but yet assholey characters I've ever seen.

So, in the end, I'M STILL HERE was a interesting attempt at trying to comment on media...somehow...but it didn't live up to its premise, instead becoming a true mockumentary when the audience is left wondering the authenticity of scenes as opposed to getting something from them. Like I said, this would have worked better as a proper movie. If someone is really, super inclined to see the film out of sheer curiosity, I can't exactly say it's not worth your time. But if you just wanna see another flick, cross it off your list cos it all boils down to this: media makes some actors crazy*.

Netflix Rating: Didn't Like It

*nicely realized in the scene where some internet commentator compared media reception to Phoenix in comparison to Brittany Spears and other eccentric characters.


David Bishop said...

I saw this on Instant too, but I wasn't sure if I would watch it because I had heard very little good about it. Glad you got to it first so I can check the "not interested" box and move on.

Anonymous said...

This was a film that did hold my interest, but the problem was that I already knew that it was fake, so therefore all my wondering about this film was doomed from the beginning. Good Review!

The Mad Hatter said...

But what if you weren't sure whether or not it was real?

Andy the Time Lord said...

David - Haha, you're welcome! Yea, your time will be well spent watching something else (I just saw the Superman/Shazam! feature is Streaming now. w00t!)

dtmrr - Thanks. Indeed, it was unfortunate Casey and Joaquin spilled the beans a few days after its theatrical release. Perhaps waiting awhile before it hit a wider audience would have helped with the illusion.

Hatter - Perhaps they're filming a sequel, and Joaquin's newly shaven face and quasi-renewed interest in acting will be the first two acts before his downfall in act three. True method acting.