What happened to Joaquin Phoenix? How did the seemingly shy, intense actor go from young heartthrob to Oscar nominee to punchline to pop culture mystery? Was it a breakdown? A retreat? A hoax? Fellow actor Casey Affleck gets close enough for an accurate look at what was really happening.
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Two men insert their sticky fingers into the anus of the tired documentary form and overly esteemed acting culture, commenting on Western mass media's selfish, pretentious, ridiculous nature. The world has no patience for this, calling it selfish, pretentious, ridiculous. This pushes the work even further into the context of the viewing space, takes it from good to fucking outstanding. A live simulacrum, not a hoax.
Jewel of the "prankumentary" movement popularized by Sacha Baron Cohen, the film goes deeper than the ones and zeros in the video stream. Publicly "quitting" acting to pursue a career as a hip-hop emcee, Phoenix sets a course for certain destruction, living a fabricated existence for two years to make this film. I'm Still Here is a cutting commentary on Hollywood excess, stardom and public perception.
Besides being constantly hilarious, the movie is truly fascinating in the kind of nakedness it delivers. I don't usually laugh when I watch a movie alone but I laughed uncontrollably throughout this one. Phoenix is simply real in acting out the cluelessness and the desperation. It's a great satire on a reality that is already a satire.
This is just ridiculous, obviously an elaborate hoax, and totally silly, or they wouldn't have shown Britney Spear's labia (85:04) and hired an actor to play J.P.'s dad. I think When Herzog Rescued Phoenix is made up, too; there's no evidence to corroborate that it ever happened except that they both say so and I don't believe it. The cartoon is a nice companion piece, tho: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDcnLfLaFiY
A film about baptism, the act of immersion that takes complete commitment and facilitates transition between worlds. Change born of ennui can make a fool of you. Change born of hubris can make enemies. Change born of suffering can strip you bare. Change born of surrender can ease your soul.