Friday, September 17, 2010

Affleck confirms I'm Still Here is just performance art

In slightly delayed news, actor/director Casey Affleck has confirmed what many of us already knew: I'm Still Here is not a documentary of Joaquin Phoenix's deterioration, but instead merely a document of an elaborate piece of performance art.  The film seemed to confuse and dupe a number of people, including Roger Ebert, whose review of I'm Still Here seemed fraught with melancholy; "The tragedy of Joaquin Phoenix's self-destruction has been made into "I'm Still Here," a sad and painful documentary that serves little useful purpose other than to pound another nail into the coffin".  Well, not quite.  Affleck spoke with the New York Times, asserting that while few were clued in as to the joke,  Phoenix's extended method performance over the last year or so (spaced out on Letterman, destroying the press tour for Two Lovers, rapping across America) was purely fiction.  Affleck had this to say to the Times:
he wanted audiences to experience the film’s narrative, about the disintegration of celebrity, without the clutter of preconceived notions.

"[Affleck] wanted audiences to experience the film’s narrative, about the disintegration of celebrity, without the clutter of preconceived notions.
     So he said little in interviews. “We wanted to create a space,” he said. “You believe what’s happening is real" [NYtimes]
Obviously, since the reviews prior to this were stilted by concerns about Phoenix and legitimate tentativeness, it might be time for a re-evaluation on the effect of the performance as a whole.  I've yet to see I'm Still Here, but from the sounds of it, Phoenix turned in a pretty impressive bit of acting.

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