Oh how I wish I’d gone to see I’m Still Here last weekend like I planned.
The internet is working itself into a minor tizzy now that the cat is out of the bag and Casey Affleck has admitted to the New York Times that nothing in the Joaquin Phoenix doc was real, including the infamous David Letterman appearance though Affleck says Dave himself was not in on it. Correction: THR talked to a Letterman writer who claims the whole thing was scripted.
“It’s a terrific performance, it’s the performance of his career,” says Affleck in the piece.
This all fits with what I’d been assuming/hoping about the film since July. The big surprise here for me is the reaction so far online.
Anne Thompson is irritated:
“This whole thing annoys me. They think it’s hysterically funny. I think it’s a joke on the audience. A prank. Not serious at all. Part of my annoyance comes from the fact that Affleck refused to answer questions and deliberately misled the press in Venice and Toronto. Tell us what the thing is and let us judge it accurately. Don’t prevaricate, then say, “Ha!!” That’s a kid playing games, not a serious filmmaker.”
I think she’s missing the point and also over-estimating the ability of modern journalists to keep their traps shut and play along. I don’t think it was intended as a stunt or a hoax or meant to make anyone look stupid. It was a put-on designed to have an impact and make certain points that would’ve been watered down had it been put over as fiction all along.
Of course I’m speaking in theory because I haven’t seen the film and Thompson has.
The other more disturbing reaction comes from people who seem to think it’s less of a movie because it wasn’t really a celebrity meltdown.
Here’s David Chen in SlashFilm:
“Well, that was fun while it lasted…I’m Still Here, is fake, and not much more than one long, elaborate performance.”
To be fair, Chen is very admiring of Phoenix’s performance but I’m not sure how “one long, elaborate performance” can be brushed off as such an insignificant thing. Certainly a performance is more interesting and thrilling than another extended reality TV episode capturing yet another celebrity bottoming out.
Factoring in the movie itself along with the elaborate Letterman put-ons and the staged rap shows, I think the whole thing is kind of brilliant and I’m stunned by the whining.
True mountain-top water drops would not whine.
Filed under: Opinion