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
In 2016, while a guest on the National Public Radio program "Fresh Air," Casey Affleck said that filming one of the scenes in this movie was the occasion for one of the only conversations of any length or depth between Casey Affleck and his father, Tim Affleck, about the debilitating alcoholism that the elder Affleck had struggled with during much of Casey's early childhood. Tim Affleck, who played Joaquin Phoenix's character's father, had been sober for many decades when he shot the scene, in which Phoenix is supposed to have traveled to Costa Rica to visit his "father"; Casey Affleck set the scene at a bar, "and I put a beer in front of my dad. And I was not intending for him to drink the beer. I just wanted him to be--both of the characters just to be sitting there in silence, sort of uncomfortable silence between father and son. And my dad looked at me and he said, 'I can't drink this.' I said, 'I know you can't, dad. You don't--I (don't) want you to drink--for God's sake, don't drink. And that's probably the only time we talked about his recovery and sobriety since - since he got sober. You know, he doesn't talk about it much. But he is a lovable guy, and I have a great relationship with him. He's really very, very smart. And it's been - you know, I got to know a whole new person when I was a teenager because the man I knew before that was just completely different. So in some ways, I kind of began my relationship with the father I know now when I was a teenager." 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 »
This has to be one of the most weird and surreal movies that I've ever seen. Watching Joaquin Phoenix bouncing around like a gibbering idiot and rapping in front of Edward James Olmos (rap name: EJO), while a nonsensical voice-over of Olmos rambles about raindrops and mountains and inner light...it's just insane. And the entire mockumentary is like that, to varying degrees.
Joaquin plays a deranged, drug-using, prostitute-frequenting, delusional, destructive, bizzaro-version of himself, and I just can't look away. Every time he steps up onto a stage to rap, it's a hilarious train wreck. Even though you can't help but feel painfully embarrassed for the character. The way he berates his assistants, tries to get a friend in recovery to take drugs, constantly surrenders to his own paranoia and delusions, and takes narcissism and selfishness to the furthest excesses, it's all just unbelievably compelling. It's like watching the worst person in the world and wondering what insanity they're going to race towards next.
I thought that the performance by Phoenix was great. This is my absolute favorite movie by him, and my favorite "character" that he's played. It's not by accident that so many people thought this movie was a genuine documentary about Phoenix's spiraling life. He genuinely makes the character seem crazy enough to believe that his music is actually good and that the absurd things that he's saying have meaning. It feels real, even when you know it's not. Every uncomfortable, embarrassed and incredulous reaction of his friends and the people he meets just drew me deeper into the world of this bizarre man.
I was beyond impressed by what Phoenix and Casey Affleck did with this. When I first heard about it, it sounded like a vanity project that would be an amusing oddity, at best. What I got instead was one of the best movies I've seen this year. It is NOT for everyone. But how can I not rate a movie highly that made me laugh so much, while also making me feel sadness, disgust, pity, incredulity, anger, hope, embarrassment, and ten other things?
This experiment was a smashing success, in my opinion, and something truly unique that I'll be thinking about for a long time. I'm Still Here is audacious, ridiculous, and certainly divisive. I can honestly see why some people would hate this movie, and the entire idea behind it. But, long before that perfect ending left my screen, I knew which side of that divide I would fall on.
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