Thursday, December 02, 2010

I'm Still Here (Affleck, 2010)

This probably seemed like a genius idea in the planning stages. Unfortunately, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The film is uncomfortable, but for the wrong reasons, as hardly anybody but the dimmest of pop culture leeches seems genuinely taken in by Phoenix's attempt to make a Sacha Baron Cohen film. It's clear that most of the big-time celebs with which Phoenix interacts rightly smell a (Bo)rat.

When a young, gifted actor like Phoenix has a sit-down meeting with P. Diddy in order to discuss a potential hip-hop album, it's not humorous or revelatory. It's just sad. Diddy shows professionalism and generosity in sitting through Phoenix's pitch, but rightly recognizes the whole affair as a waste of his time. David Letterman gamely plays along out of respect for Phoenix's reputation. But for a man who's played this game with the great Andy Kaufman, it's clear that this particular prank is small potatoes.

It's as if Phoenix, jealous of the legendary status of his late brother, attempted to stage his own funeral and found out that nobody really cared. Phoenix may have torpedoed his own career, but perhaps not in the way he expected. The exposé of behind-the-scenes celeb-culture superficiality is occasionally interesting, such as in a scene where we see how paparazzi goad stars into reactions. But it's not nearly enough to fully justify the indulgences of Affleck and Phoenix and their toothless bite of the hand that feeds them.

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