Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Shimon Peres: 'a man of many faces'

Read more

THE DEBATE

The Legacy of Shimon Peres: The last of Israel's founding generation (part 1)

Read more

THE DEBATE

The Legacy of Shimon Peres: What's left of the Oslo Accords? (part 2)

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Ex-CIA director 'very worried' by prospect of Trump presidency

Read more

FACE-OFF

Migrant crisis: A political football in France?

Read more

FOCUS

Will France repatriate its collection of 19th century Algerian skulls?

Read more

ENCORE!

Film show: 'The Dancer', 'Aquarius' and 'Dogs'

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

War in Syria: Residents recount ordeal of life in Aleppo

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Shimon Peres’ Quixotic battle for Israeli-Palestinian peace

Read more

Culture

New Joaquin Phoenix film has the critics guessing: is it a hoax?

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-09-06

Casey Affleck's directorial debut, "I'm Still Here", has the critics talking. The documentary, which follows Joaquin Phoenix's (pictured) path from actor to wannabe rapper, has the critics divided as to whether the film is really a hoax.

REUTERS - Whether a hoax or not, a new documentary about Joaquin Phoenix and his transition from acclaimed, brooding actor to bearded, shambolic hip-hop wannabe has captivated viewers at the Venice film festival.

"I'm Still Here" was directed by Casey Affleck, a successful actor and Phoenix's brother-in-law.
 
The guessing game over whether the picture was genuine documentary or ironic "mockumentary" poking fun at an intolerant and narrow-minded public and press began long before the release of the movie.
 
It mirrors internet chatter following Phoenix's now infamous television interview with David Letterman last year, when a confused, mumbling performance also prompted suspicions that it was all an elaborate act.
 
"I can tell you that there is no hoax," Affleck told reporters after his directorial debut was screened to reporters on Monday in Venice, where it is out of competition.
 
"That never even entered into my consciousness until other people began to talk about the movie," he added at a briefing where he was asked repeatedly about whether certain scenes, and the movie in general, were genuine.
 
But he conceded that audiences were likely to be confused.
 
"I'm very interested to hear those sorts of reactions and I appreciate that point of view, and I understand how a lot of this movie could be confusing in terms of, 'oh well, it seems like something's real or not real'."
 
Reporters filmed Phoenix arriving on the Lido, clean shaven, smartly dressed and looking in good shape -- in contrast with his dishevelled, bearded and overweight appearance in the film. He did not turn up at the red carpet for the premiere.
 
Candid camera
 
Whether real or not, I'm Still Here offers a sometimes excruciating insight into the life of a celebrity and into the mind of Phoenix, whose best-known films include "To Die For", "Gladiator", "Walk the Line" and "Two Lovers".
 
He is at times funny and coherent and at others childish, aggressive and paranoid as he struggles to live with his decision in 2008, which the media greeted with breathless disbelief, to give up acting and take up hip hop.
 
After his Letterman appearance, Phoenix clasped his head in frustration at how badly it went. 

"I'm just going to be a god damned joke forever," he said, before launching into an expletive-ridden tirade and bursting into tears.
 
The candid film includes footage of him apparently taking drugs, surfing the internet for call girls, hosting prostitutes, diving off a stage to attack a heckler and vomiting.
 
It also features rap star Sean Combs, who, after several failed attempts on Phoenix's part to set up a meeting, agrees to listen to a demo of his hip-hop music.
 
Combs's face as he listens to three demo tracks is one of the movie's highlights, and Phoenix leaves crestfallen when Combs makes clear he will not produce his record.
 
Again, though, reporters asked whether Combs was in on the joke. Affleck replied: "The role that he played in Joaquin's life was to be the bearer of bad news. He was the hammer that crushed the dream. All of that is a little bit of an act."
 
Comedian Ben Stiller also appears when he comes to Phoenix's home to ask him to consider playing a part in his recent movie "Greenberg".

 

Date created : 2010-09-06

  • CANNES FILM FESTIVAL

    Watch our full interview with Woody Allen, and read our movie critic

    Read more

  • CANNES FILM FESTIVAL

    Eclectic Cannes line-up mixes veterans and new blood

    Read more

  • CINEMA

    Buzz mounts around David Fincher’s Facebook movie ahead of festival premiere

    Read more

COMMENT(S)