December 31, 2010 5 Comments
Finally saw I’m Still Here, and it was pretty good, but more obviously fake than I had expected it to be, given the confusion and ‘controversy’ and ‘is it or isn’t it’ that seemed to surround it at the time. So many scenes just didn’t make sense if you thought them through logically and took them at face value. I didn’t buy the most notorious scene for one second. (But it was funny)
Why did I like it then? I guess I’m just a fan of the fake-documentary in general. So I’m an easy pushover. But it should be said that Joaquin Phoenix did a brilliant job. Although for my money, Mail Order Wife is the all-time masterpiece of the genre. You can watch it on Hulu I believe. And, you should, because it is hilarious.
The fake documentary did make me curious about the real Joaquin Phoenix and got me to thinking about the Phoenixes in general. I know so little about them. What is Rain doing? Etc. The film opens and closes with Joaquin in Panama, at what one gathers is his father’s house. Why does Joaquin Phoenix’s father live in Panama? And why does he dress like a Sandinista nowadays?
The obvious conjecture that suggests itself is that this is an ex-hippy we’re dealing with, and a few clicks on Wiki later, sure enough, Joaquin & River’s parents were members of the Children of God / Family International cult, which is known primarily for its innovative technique of ‘Flirty Fishing’ – having its female members offer sex to try to get recruits/donations. Or, as some courts have charged, running a prostitution ring.
By the way why do so many commune/cult members seem to have turned out actors as their progeny? The Phoenixes, Winona Ryder, Beck the musician is a Scientologist, etc. It almost seems as if actors are the main, if not only, lasting cultural legacy of cults. What is it that cults do exactly that produces good actors? Is it just the child sexual abuse or is there more to it? Were historical actors in e.g. ancient Greece, etc. also generally produced by their equivalent of cults? One wonders.
Then there is the odd fact of Joaquin’s friend and ‘assistant’ Antony, who it appears is his real friend and assistant in real life, but who is also the guitar player for Spacehog. Spacehog were pretty good! What the hell is their guitar player doing being Joaquin Phoenix’s personal assistant? Is that really the way things work in rock/Hollywood? For some reason I find that incredibly depressing. If I dug into things would I find that Blur’s bass player fetches espressos for Jude Law, that the Stone Roses’s drummer shaves between Matt Damon’s eyebrows for him weekly, that the lead singer for Cast orders the escorts for Shia LaBoeuf?
I’m Still Here raised all these questions and more for me. Oh, I guess Casey Affleck & Joaquin wanted to say something about celebrity (or something) too. I’m not sure they did. But did you know that Beck is married to Giovanni Ribisi’s sister? And that they’re Scientologists too? Actually, sort of Scientology royalty (second-generation)? She had a small acting career too – she was the redhead in Dazed And Confused. I thought of all these things and more while watching I’m Still Here. It gave me that sort of time/space. Come to think of it, maybe the film itself wasn’t that great. But Joaquin’s rapping wasn’t that bad either. Kind of a wash really. Maybe the main point of the film is that rap is kinda easy. But at the same time, you walk away with a real respect for P. Diddy and the professionalism he brings to what he does. And so on.
Okay, let’s just say the movie was ‘thought-provoking’ in the literal sense of the term and call it a day. I have no real point here. And in the end, wasn’t that the point?