FILM: I’m Still Here

Is it a hoax?

An elaborately disguised Hollywood Breakdown?

Or the best character acting of our generation?

Those are the questions that are swirling around the controversial documentary I’m Still Here. Billed as a … of Oscar award winning actor Joaquin Phoenix, the documentary shows him as he “retires” from acting, and persues a rap career with none other than P Diddy.

Director Casey Affleck (aka Ben’s Brother and Phoenix’ brother-in-law) has come out and said the the film is not real. That Phoenix was playing a character for over a year and a half. Many scenes in the documentary were staged and scripted, and some (like the beginning home video footage of a supposed musical Phoenix family were filmed with actors). But even with all that, what’s striking is the fact that Joaquin maintained his character for a year and a half, making a fool of himself on David Letterman and his hip-hop debut at Liv Nightclub in Miami, in addition to erratic behavior on Hollywood red carpets.

Unfortunately, the hubbub around Phoenix’s supposed death spiral is much better than the end product itself. The two hour documentary is boring, vapid, and just plain uninteresting.

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Accompanied by Spacehog guitarist Antony Langdon and some dude who is very comfortable showing his junk, the bulk of the documentary is about Phoenix trying to track down Puffy–flying to New York, Miami, and even Obama’s inauguration in Washington, DC–to get facetime with the Bad Boy producer. Unfortunately, Phoenix just comes off as a whiny bitch. Even if he was a character, there is little that anyone can sympathize with. He’s got the money to fly across the country and live in high rent bachelor pads, and even though money isn’t anything, the lack of a reason for his depression and character change dosen’t give us a reason to empathize with him.

What was the purpose of this documentary? Was it to showcase the self-destructive nature of celebrity? A morbid call for attention? Who knows. The only entertaining part of the documentary is a snippet from the infamous David Letterman interview, in which it’s revealed that Dave knew nothing about the hoax. Fortunately, you can see that interview on YouTube for free.

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