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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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 probably one of the bravest projects ever undertaken (not real bravery like fire fighters). It is an experiment with fame, how quickly it goes, how quickly people turn away or forget, or write you off as crazy. There were parts of the film that I didn't think were needed but over all I found it a very enlightening experience. There is something about him walking down that river at the end that is memorizing.