What happened to Joaquin Phoenix? How did the seemingly shy, intense actor go from young heartthrob to two-time Academy Award® nominee to pop culture mystery? Was it a breakdown? A retreat? A hoax? It’s a testament to our accelerated culture that both the Joaquin Phoenix story and its interpretations jostled for attention as Phoenix transformed himself before our eyes. As ubiquitous as he was – appearing famously on Late Night with David Letterman and testing his rap skills at a series of live performances that went viral on the internet – Phoenix became more and more enigmatic for his fans. No one had close enough access to get an accurate look at what was really happening in the world of the increasingly unpredictable actor. No one but Casey Affleck.
A celebrated actor himself, Affleck also happens to be Phoenix’s brother-in-law and friend. He had the perfect vantage point, but what does it mean for a friend and brother-in-law to pick up a a camera and chronicle your every move? I’m Still Here offers fascinating insights, not just into Phoenix, but also into the relationship between these two famous men.
At the height of his fame the movie star declares, “I don’t want to play the character of Joaquin anymore…. My artistic output up to now has been fucking fraudulent.” And so begins his hip hop career. Affleck crafts this part of the Phoenix story with heart and sensitivity. Although the scenes of the actor trying to woo P. Diddy to produce his album are loaded with comic potential, Affleck shades the awkward humour with an appreciation of Phoenix’s sincere ambition.
But as Phoenix pours his soul into spitting rhymes, his world begins to spiral downwards. Affleck’s camera is there to witness all manner of celebrity debauchery: drugs, alcohol, groupie sex and the casual abuse of assistants. In one near-magical scene, the actor Edward James Olmos attempts to stage a kind of intervention.
I’m Still Here is completely engrossing, but it provides few answers. What happened to Joaquin Phoenix? Hard to say. It’s still happening. –TIFF.net
The younger brother of actor Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck spent the last few years of the 1990s working his way out of his brother’s muscular shadow. The younger Affleck, who remarkably bears almost no resemblance to his older brother, was born August 12, 1975, in Falmouth, MA. He made his television debut in the 1987 American Playhouse special Lemon Sky and three years later played the young Robert Kennedy in the TV miniseries The Kennedys of Massachusetts.
The young actor’s film debut came in 1995, with Gus Van Sant’s To Die For, in which he had a supporting role as one of Joaquin Phoenix’s slacker friends. The next year, he appeared in the largely unseen Race the Sun, and in 1997 benefited from the Power of Ben with roles in two of his brother’s films. In the first, Chasing Amy, Affleck was little more than a blip on the screen, but in the second, Van Sant’s Good Will Hunting, he had a decidedly more substantial part as one… read more
"Spare a thought for Joaquin Phoenix, a pampered Hollywood prince who lives to rap and raps to live," writes the Guardian's Xan Brooks. I
Now here’s a demented little tale of depraved self-helplessness. I’m Still Here is the apparent documentation of the intentional path of self-destruction of Joaquin Phoenix. In 2008, toward the end… read review