Film Reviews

I’M STILL HERE

By • Sep 11th, 2010 •

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Revelatory and self-crucifying. I not only believed it, I liked JP’s music.

Reality shows are scripted, rehearsed, and with multiple takes of scenes? What is next? A staged documentary?

Movie stars are indulged. When a movie star slacks off for a few months and gets fat, takes drugs, and gets in trouble, a studio – wanting the star for a project – will hire a platoon of people to work the star back into shape. They will hire an expensive personal trainer, a nutritionist, a cook, an ever-present caregiver/sober counselor and a spiritual advisor. There will be grooming and life coaches.

People treat movie stars as if they were in the presence of the Baby Jesus.

Watching I’M STILL HERE is an insight into what must have gone on around Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and Anna Nicole Smith. They only hire people who will stand around like Roman slaves with their vocal cords clipped.

If this documentary was all staged, there is enough reality lurking in the shadows to make it an enthralling, revealing look at what a movie star or celebrity can get away with.

They can quickly turn into colicky infants. Remember when Anna Nicole Smith started using baby talk? Michael Jackson’s pre-adolescent voice? Marilyn Monroe walking around nude?

Joaquin Phoenix is notorious for having challenging doubts about his acting abilities. He’s tortured. I’M STILL HERE is supposedly a documentary hoax about Phoenix’s decision to quit acting and become a hip-hop rapper. As shown here, Phoenix has two on-the-payroll Stockholm Syndrome 24/7 caretakers (Antony, a friend/personal assistant and Larry, his constant companion-caregiver), another personal assistant (Nicole), and a publicist (Sue Patricola).

Publicists are on retainers and usually charge anywhere from a low of $3,000 a month to $5,000 or more. Phoenix may have taken a year off, but he’ll be back to acting. He’s got a mortgaged house in L.A., an apartment in New York, and a retinue of unseen employees – you know there is an L.A. housekeeper, pool guy, landscaper, drug dealer, lawyer, and manager all on the monthly payroll. He also likes private planes, spontaneous travel, limos, luxury hotels, and whores.

In my opinion, Phoenix did get tired of being a “puppet” and started threatening – once again – to quit acting. His brother-in-law, Casey Affleck, started filming him and soon Phoenix got into the idea of a supposed expose. It is all about him!

The most astonishing thing about I’M STILL HERE is Phoenix’s self-hate. He does not come off as a nice person (I’d still like to hang out with him on the condition that he not speak directly to me but through his assistant).

Phoenix rightly knows that one year of constant filming will only amount to 108 minutes of theatrical film, so he allows Affleck to document everything he does. He goes with it and writes his own script. He’s nasty and cruel to Anton and Larry. He snorts coke and hires whores. He gets fat, grows a huge, unruly beard, and refuses to comb his hair. Unintentionally, he creates a unique character – the rapper JP – that other movie stars, notably Ben Stiller, start mocking.

Phoenix – a famous actor with two Academy Awards (Best Supporting Actor for his brilliant performance in GLADIATOR and Best Actor for WALK THE LINE!) – runs all over the U.S. trying to get Sean Combs to see him! Combs, who desperately wants to be a movie star himself, treats Phoenix as if he was his lawyer’s dentist’s nephew who wants to be a rapper. Who the hell does Puff Diddy-Daddy think he is? Or, is it a part he is playing?

By the way, Phoenix sang all his songs in WALK THE LINE, so why is Puff Diddy-Daddy so dismissive?

If you missed Phoenix’s infamous “The Late Show With David Letterman,” it is here. Was Letterman in on it? Is he ever that insulting to his movie star guests? Would Letterman’s producers allow a guest to go on without the obligatory pre-interview and outline of topics?

The drama of Phoenix’s everyday life is chronicled with his attempt at rapping. If it’s a fake, he sure did a great deal of memorizing raps – and someone leaks the story to the press that the whole – “I’m quitting acting” – is a hoax. Phoenix hires a private detective who names Antony. After a brutal verbal assault by Phoenix, Antony decides to poop on him.

Phoenix’s attempts at rapping in public go horribly wrong and is religiously recorded by Affleck and his crew. Clearly, the crowd wanted to hear Phoenix sing “Ring of Fire” and “Folsom Prison Blues”.

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