I’m Still Here at Tyneside Cinema
By admin on September 24, 2010 in Film
Real or fake? That’s the question many will be asking about Casey Affleck’s directorial debut, which turns the camera on actor (and brother-in-law) Joaquin Phoenix in the year proceeding his announcement that he was retiring from acting to pursue a new career as a hip hop artist.
The answer’s surely fake, but for for all it’s fly-on-the-wall, actor-in-meltdown cinema verite, there’s a sly sense of fun that keeps breaking through the very convincing facade constructed by Affleck and Phoenix. The most painful moments in the film are not watching Phoenix snort coke, order hookers off the internet or vomit in toilets (though that scene is still hard to watch); it’s whenever he takes to the stage to bust a rhyme that really kills you.
We’ve all seen Phoenix’s funny-cringey appearance on David Letterman where, resembling a hobo in a suit, he proceeded to mumble in response to the host’s questions and ribbing. We’ve also seen the subsequent send-up by Ben Stiller (who appears briefly in the film, pitching the script for Greenberg to Phoenix) at the 2009 Oscars. Both of those instances appear in I’m Still Here but Affleck is more concerned with what the public hasn’t seen.
Phoenix isn’t going to win sympathy by presenting himself, as he does, as an egotistical head case, especially when he eventually returns from his “retirement”, clean shaven, in shape and delivering the high calibre performances we know he is capable of but I’m Still Here is nevertheless an intriguing experiment into the cult of celebrity.
At Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle upon Tyne until 8 October