Let me see if I have this all straight. First we had Joaquin Phoenix the actor, who earned an Oscar nomination for his brilliant performance in Walk the Line.
Then we had Joaquin, Guy Having Some Sort of Personal Meltdown, who infamously appeared on Letterman in 2009 and announced he was retiring from acting in order to purse his rap career.
Then Casey Affleck released a documentary about Joaquin called 'I'm Still Here', self-described as "Sometimes funny, sometimes shocking, and always riveting, the film is a portrait of an artist at a crossroads."
Which critics did NOT enjoy. Roger Ebert said of the film,
'The tragedy of Joaquin Phoenix's self-destruction has been made into "I'm Still Here," a sad and painful documentary that serves little useful purpose other than to pound another nail into the coffin.'
Affleck, stupidly startled by the not-so-glowing reviews, decided to admit what most of us had already guessed: the whole thing—the documentary, Joaquin's bizarre behavior, his attempted rap career—was faked.
Soooo, yeah. This doesn't exactly feel like a masterfully orchestrated piece of performance art designed to make us all think about the complicated machinations of Hollywood. It seems more like a couple of guys who came up with a crazy idea while they were stoned and now they have no idea how to make their in-joke within an in-joke (or whatever it is) movie seem worth watching.
It seems like a giant waste of Phoenix's talent to have focused on this for so long, possibly hurting his long-term career in the process. After all, he hasn't worked publicly since the film wrapped in March of 2009. For a guy who had so much potential (I've been a huge fan ever since To Die For), let's hope he moves on from this mess and takes on a role worth being proud of.
Will you be watching I'm Still Here?
Image via I'm Still Here Official Movie Site