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Joaquin Phoenix says “I’m Still Here”

August 17, 2010

Joaquin PhoenixBut is he all there? Really all there.

He quit a golden Hollywood career because he was bored. He thought movies weren’t interesting anymore. He didn’t have anything else to learn. And today, Joaquin Phoenix has re-emerged in the trailer of a new “documentary” called “I’m Still Here” that is directed by his brother-in-law Casey Affleck. The documentary tells about Phoenix’s supposed attempts at a transition to a career in hip hop.  We wrote about it here and here. Surely, we think, it’s more mockumentary, something on the order of “This is Spinal Tap” that sends up the entertainment industry. Tellingly, it was “written and produced” by both Affleck and Phoenix. Then again, who are we to say he’s lying just because what he has done seems so odd. One never really knows, and “odd” is rather normal in Hollywood. You can watch the trailer — and judge it — for yourself below.

In interviews, despite a bizarre, mumbling shaggy-haired appearance on David Letterman that baffled many, Joaquin Phoenix coherently insisted to all in promoting his last film in 2008, “Two Lovers,” that he was indeed quitting acting (he still has no more movies announced). And yes, absolutely and convincingly, he said he was pursuing a career in hip hop.  And yes, there was Affleck right on hand to tape all media interviews with Phoenix. (Note: we politely said “no” to being taped for a possible spoof, much to Affleck’s annoyance.)

The slick new trailer for “I’m Still Here”, which seems to suggest the movie is no slouch in the usually low-budget “doc” arena, shows Phoenix the actor going from Hollywood photo shoots, red carpets, limos and jets to a pot-bellied (no 50 cent abs for him) singer backstage and hip hop wannabe onstage. The trailer is accompanied by a dramatic score and voiceover that compares him to “a mountain top water drop” who doesn’t “belong to this valley, this river”.

It gets funnier — or darker, depending on your point-of-view. Affleck is now facing claims of sexual harassment from two women, one from the cinematographer and one from a producer who worked on the film.

If a full-fledged “Spinal Tap”-like spoof is in the cards, it’s been a worthy performance by all, from some of America’s top actors — Affleck and Phoenix — right down to the distributor, Magnolia Pictures, whose spokesman told us “it is not a mockumentary by any means.”  The company called it “a portrait of an artist at a crossroads.” Soon all will be revealed. It is showing at the Venice film festival and opens in the United States on September 10.

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