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In 2008 while rehearsing for a charity event, actor Joaquin Phoenix, with Casey Affleck's camera watching, tells people he's quitting to pursue a career in rap music. Over the next year, we watch the actor write, rehearse, and perform to an audience. He importunes Sean Combs in hopes he'll produce the record. We see the actor in his home: he parties, smokes, bawls out his two-man entourage, talks philosophy with Affleck, and comments on celebrity. Written by
Magnolia Pictures were rather annoyed with the whole set-up, as they were trying to publicize Two Lovers (2008), with a star that refused to be interviewed, and who yet was being followed by a documentary crew at all times. They believed that Phoenix's "stunt" took a lot of attention away from James Gray's well-received film, which was a box-office flop. See more »
When Phoenix first meets Diddy in the hotel, he knocks on the door on the right side of the hall, then the camera switches and Diddy is opening the door on the left side of the hall. It can't just be a change in camera angle since the door is the last one on the hall. See more »
Do the snow angel, dude. I can reach you, do the fucking snow angel. Dude, do the fucking snow angel. Do the snow angel, man. Do the fucking snow angel, dude. Do the fucking snow angel!
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Real or not, it's an engaging roller coaster ride.
Just two years after receiving an Oscar nomination for his powerhouse performance as Johnny Cash in 'Walk the Line,' actor Joaquin Phoenix shocked show business by announcing his retirement from acting to pursue a career as a hip hop musician. 'I'm Still Here,' directed by Phoenix's brother-in-law and fellow actor Casey Affleck, tells the story of the star's life change. Supposedly.
After Joaquin Phoenix's apparent mental breakdown which came in the form of a legendary David Letterman appearance and a beard to rival that of Zack Galifianakis, many people in & out of the film industry fought to uncover the validity of Joaquin's retirement. Shortly after the release of the 'I'm Still Here,' questions were answered when Phoenix & Affleck admitted their worldwide prank saying that, from the beginning, it was all a hoax. If this admission is true, this film will become one of the most believable & ridiculous hoaxes in a long, long time.
Regardless of whether 'I'm Still Here' is actually a hoax (or if the hoax is a hoax, attempting to cover up the breakdown of Phoenix), it is still quite an entertaining film. However, due to the seemingly obscene subject matter throughout the film, it's hard to truly believe that any famous person would allow it to be shown publicly, risking a hugely negative backlash. We see Joaquin snorting coke (off hookers' breasts at one point), spanking naked men with towels, ordering female escorts, and other low-grade behaviour. If all of this actually DID happen without elaborate staging, then I send full respect to Mr. Phoenix for having the courage to allow it to be shown on screen like this.
One issue that the film does have comes from the overall style. While the story, content, etc., are all exceedingly engaging, the actual visuals of the film were almost unbearable. In a low-budget documentary like, say, the recent 'Catfish,' amateurish cinematography & direction are almost expected. However, when a documentary is being produced by two successful actors and is directed by someone who has been working on film sets for twenty years, this bottom-level style just does not work when the validity of the film's content are already in question.
Overall, however, the film does work well as a whole. Joaquin Phoenix, whether he's playing himself or the insane version of himself, is impossible to not watch, even with his constant arrogant and selfish behaviour throughout. If you watch along believing it just might be real, it will be an emotional roller coaster ride. Even if it is all a hoax, though, it's still one hell of a crazy ride.
Final Verdict: 7.5/10.
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