do my best to write a review for one meta-documentary whose validity is
subject to some doubt, another meta-documentary with doubtful sincerity
has finally been revealed as an elaborate piece of performance art.
Casey Affleck, speaking with the NY Times, has unequivocally stated that the events in I’m Still Here form a 100% engineered narrative.
“It’s a terrific performance, it’s the performance of his career.”
if that leaves any doubt, it’s also stated that Joaquin Phoenix is now
fielding film roles once again (which he will assuredly get), and that
only a brief snippet of Joaquin dancing with his siblings as a child is
“There were multiple takes, these are performances.”
The drugs, the hookers, the breakdowns… performances. And damn good ones.
imagine now this is where the hammer really comes down, sticks are
shoved firmly up asses, and the hyperbolic declarations of what a
“stupid, worthless stunt the whole thing is” begins. Even before the
film was in theaters, I noticed a staggering amount vitriol aimed at
Affleck and Phoenix, simply for the perceived pretension of making a
documentary of vague sincerity (I have a feeling this is largely because
it looked like they were having fun doing it). As silly as it is to be
the least bit angered by the stunt, the biggest paradox was (and will
be) the responses that went out of their way to declare how apathetic they
are towards the whole thing.
a shame, because the film is very solid and demonstrates that Casey
Affleck has a real eye for the quiet moments that can say so much about a
person. He also has considerable talent in staging convincing, dramatic
scenes. The interview states that Affleck tried to include a
progression from extremely raw documentary style to a more staged and
obviously created narrative, and I think this comes through in the
documentary, especially with hindsight.
I’m glad Affleck has put the word out that the doc is a hoax. Joaquin
re-appears on Letterman next wednesday (September 22nd) and Affleck
assures the interviewer that he will not be in character. Hopefully by
that point, with the word spread far and wide that this is a story, I’m Still Here
can be examined for what it is, a flawed but interesting piece of
meta-narrative performance art that successfully took us all for a ride.
From the review…
I don’t really buy the film as a telling of real events, but still felt
entertained watching it, andr satisfied upon walking out. It’s funny,
and it does a good job of telling a story, capturing human moments,
acknowledging the rumors surrounding the events in question, and
exploring what happens when you stir up the modern-media hornet’s nest,
all the while playing it totally straight. It’s not perfect, and maybe
bites off more than it can chew as a meta-philosophical experiment that
blurs the lines of reality and simulacra. There’s much to be said about
what is real and what isn’t considering, no matter the agenda, Phoenix
actually rapped at public concerts, and actually appeared on Late Night
as he did, and actually stopped being in films for several years. The
film isn’t capable of bringing up these questions though, which is why
the discussion surrounding I’m Still Here is being constantly
characterized as more interesting than the actual film…”