Friday, January 14, 2011

I'm Still Here

I'm Still Here (2010)
Dir: Casey Affleck
Staring: Joaquin Phoenix

A few years back academy award winning actor Joaquin Phoenix (Walk The Line/Gladiator/Clay Pigeons/Hotel Rwanda) Made a statement that he was through acting, The strange thing about it was he followed by saying he was going to follow his passion for music. He was going to venture into Hip Hop to be more specific.He grew out a beard and started dressing like a hobo and everyone believed this was some sort of elaborate hoax, These theories were further strengthened by the fact it was announced that his brother in law Casey Affleck was going to film the transition for a documentary. Two years later this strange documentary was released and I have to say, I still do not know if this is legit or just a mockumentary. If that is the case then Joaquin deserves another Oscar , if not then Mr. Phoenix needs some serious counseling. The documentary opens up with a old home video of young Joaquin Diving off a cliff into a lake in Panama as some sort of metaphor of him taking this next dive into the unknown.Then we get treated to several news and gossip show clips broadcasting the story of Joaquin's latest leap of faith and questioning it's legitimacy.After that Joaquin, Casey and Joaquin's entourage follow Phoenix on this journey and it appears he does have a passion for the music, Though he is not great at it at least the heart is there which I can say is more than most artists out today.
Apparently the filming of this started shortly before he announced his odd decision as we follow Joaquin to his final performance at a benefit play in San Francisco where he rubs elbows with his celebrity friends and then gets jealous that he is not the center of attention at said benefit, mad that Casey Affleck has more stage time then he. This is the first sign of my main problem with this film. I think it is supposed to make the viewer feel for this tortured soul artist who is fiending to let himself be heard in the purest way possible through lyric, but truly Joaquin just comes off as a complete asshole the entire time. It appears that he has to be the center of attention at all times and when he is not he gets upset or if that attention is negative even more so. This is shown in the ways he belittles his entourage and throws fits when things don't go his way or people question his validity when he says he desires to be a rapper. Another thing is that he states he wants to do this for the love of the music and he has something more powerful to say than anyone else but his lyrics come off as snobbish at times talking of his success just to flip around and speak on how rough he has it, On top of that instead of starting from the ground up he expects to immediately be thrown into the spotlight desiring to work with the geres most highg profile producers such as Dre and Diddy.
There are some quite entertaining segments like when he scores some coke and goes on a binge buying prostitutes for he and his friend Anthony, and a scene where at his first performance he falls off stage. But these little bright spots are overshadowed by the douche bag elements like a scene where Joaquin performs at a club and does not get the response he desires and instead of using it as a learning experience he blames the crowd for being stupid and not on his level when truly his lyrics were not all that intricate.Through his journey he finally does get his meeting with Diddy and in one of the more honest moments in the movie , Joaquin gets seriously hurt by Diddy's unimpressed reaction to his music, then things start to fall apart as he is booked on Letterman and looks like a complete ass on national television in which he blames his best friend and entourage members ending their friendship but this does lead to the funniest scene in the film which could have been one of the grossest jackass segments ever.
Why Does Joaquin Phoenix look so much like Zach Gallifinakis all the sudden? I kept thinking while watching this that maybe this all started because he didn't get that role in the Hangover... But then again by the way he treated Ben Stiller when he was asked to do a film with him I guess he doesn't do comedy , So why is he rocking the Zach Look so hard?

After the fallout Joaquin gets one last chance to prove he can be a real M.C. when he get one more opportunity to perform  at the club that gave him his first crack at it. Joaquin unfortunately allows his pride to once again get the best of him as he ends his show prematurely when he lets a heckler get to him and he jumps off stage to engage in a fist fight with the fan. By this point Joaquin is the biggest laughing stock in Hollywood and it seems that everyone is parodying him and making jokes at his expense.
I will say that it is hard to watch when Joaquin realizes that his dream of becoming a hip hop artist is not going to work out and that he gave up his success in exchange for this new venture, but again it really is hard to root for this guy when he comes off as such a asshole with a superiority complex. Now I can appreciate a hurting artist that can be  a prick, I mean my favorite writer is Bukowski and he was a self proclaimed asshole but he had some charm to it, Joaquin lacks that sort of endearing quality.SO where does Joaquin go from here? He has pretty much blacklisted himself from Hollywood and I cant imagine this movie helping matters with all the footage of his drug use and prostitution soliciting, But if this is indeed a hoax then this man is a pure genius and he deserves another Oscar for this one. The film in a whole is a decent watch and it has it's moments that make it worth while, One scene in particular where Edward James Olmos dropping some legitimate knowledge on Joaquin but I just don't understand how anyone would want to be around this guy if this is how he truly is in real life. If  you are one for documentaries this one is well made , though I guess I was hoping for something a bit more I just don't know what. Perhaps some decent lyricism ? who knows?

Overall: 6 out of 10

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