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I'm Still Here

For better or worse, Joaquin Phoenix documentary is exactly what you expect it to be

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Phoenix gets wiggy with it.

I'm Still Here

Directed by Casey Affleck

Opens Sept. 24 at the Charles Theatre

Joaquin Phoenix won an Academy Award, right, for being Johnny Cash in that movie? Whatever, he got nominated, and he got nominated for being Commodus in that Gladiator movie, and he got a Golden Globe for the Johnny Cash thing, so that’s pretty big. But he didn’t get shit for Reservation Road, which we never got around to seeing because we heard it was a giant bummer or something, but it supposedly had a great deal of acting in it, so consider for a moment that Joaquin Phoenix is a successful and serious actor and movie star, but now Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck have gone and made this fishy documentary all about how Joaquin Phoenix can’t fucking stand to be Joaquin Phoenix for one more minute so he decides to retire from acting. From acting, and maybe from acting like “Joaquin Phoenix,” whatever that is. And maybe from being the actor who looks in the mirror and sees Joaquin Phoenix looking back.

You will begin to hate Joaquin Phoenix for his Joaquin Phoenix-ness right from the beginning of I'm Still Here, which looks like it's shot on cheap-ass video, and it’s pretty entertaining because Joaquin Phoenix is a fucking asshole, not a professional asshole like Andy Kaufman or Tony Clifton or Borat or Larry David, but more like all those isolated, self-absorbed movie-star jerks we hate because they are famous and completely not living in the real world and they have suck-up kiss-ass parasite assistants, just like on the Entourage program or maybe Kathy Griffin’s reality cable TV show. And it’s serious schadenfreude-tastic good times watching Joaquin Phoenix on the screen mumble—seriously, with subtitles—and whine about show business and then putz around doing music, which is of course more interesting than if Joaquin Phoenix decided to quit acting and take up cabinetmaking or watercolor painting or something.

And then there's all kinds of really, really unfortunate dissolute movie-star childishness but also a few moments of genuine pathos, like The Magnificent Ambersons kinda stuff where this spoiled prat gets some comeuppance, and it’s shocking, and sad, and yes, we are comparing this movie to The Magnificent Ambersons, you can quote that shit, and also to some of those John Cassavettes movies—do not ask us to name one, please—where everybody is yelling and it’s really fucking depressing, but in an acting way, you know? Serious shit. Entertainment, man. Truth, almost.

So look, take this movie at Face Value for as long as you can stand looking at Joaquin Phoenix’s bearded descent into Celebrity Hell, or maybe into a Very Special Episode of Jackass, rated hard-R. What is Truth? Who cares? This shit is funny and weird and dude took a shot with this so get off his fucking back. He’s not going anywhere. Also, Puffy is way better in this than he was in Get Him to the Greek.

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