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Noah Forrest

By Noah Forrest

I’m Still Here (Dir. Casey Affleck)

I don’t really know where to start with this one.  I’ve professed my admiration for Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix many times on this site.  I think both of them are two of the finest actors that are currently working today and I root for them to succeed in all of their endeavors.  When they announced that they were working on this project, that Phoenix was going to become a rapper and Affleck was going to document his journey, I was just kind of bummed that these two brilliant actors would be spending their time on this one project rather than giving us more wonderful performances.  I worried that it was going to be a waste of their time.

I was right.

Not only that, it was a waste of my time to watch this movie.  The most exciting thing that happens in the film (the Letterman appearance) has already been seen and dissected by most folks that are aware of pop culture.  That moment is the climax of the film.  But really, that speaks more to the deficiencies in the rest of the film rather than that moment itself.

Reviewing a documentary is different from reviewing a feature and when the creators of this project recently stated that this was, in fact, a feature and that Phoenix had been perpetuating something akin to a hoax, I certainly watched the film differently.  But I can’t review it as a feature either because there are people involved in the film who weren’t aware of the shenanigans.  So, it becomes a kind of hybrid film, something resembling a Sacha Baron Cohen film.  And it makes us long for the brilliance that Cohen brings to those films, the way he actually creates credible characters that are let loose upon the world.  More than that, he plays extroverted characters that go out into the world and interact with people.  Phoenix has created a mumbling, quiet version of himself that mostly stays at home and does nothing.  So the film really just seems like a couple of kids who decided to invite some friends to make a movie in their backyard.

Much is made of Phoenix trying to arrange several meetings with Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, in the hopes that Combs will listen to and love Phoenix’s terrible music.  It all goes predictably wrong and Phoenix gets upset about it.  If nothing else, Combs deserves consideration for Best Supporting Actors for his stellar performances here and in Get Him to the Greek.

There are scenes of vomiting, drug abuse, fighting, sex, but even if all of these things weren’t staged, they would still be…well, really fucking boring. I was astounded by the fact that I kept looking at the time, waiting for the film to be over.  The reason is that there is nothing compelling us forward as viewers, nothing for us to hold onto or hope for.  What is the point that Affleck is trying to make here?  It can’t really be about the media’s effect on celebrity because the world created here is so insular that we barely see outside of Phoenix’s homes.  Is it about the ways in which celebrities delude themselves?  Because that’s not really an interesting topic for 99.9% of humanity.

Ultimately, it’s a plodding film that kind of just goes onward with no particular direction.  Struggling to find a way to mercifully end the film, Affleck gives us a strange sequence where Phoenix goes to Panama and swims.  It’s supposed to be deep, perhaps some kind of metaphor (Water as rebirth?  Really?), but it comes off as pretentious and – once again – boring.

I’m really pretty upset at the amount of talent and time that was wasted on this (anti-)vanity project.  I don’t know that Phoenix’s portrayal is even a good one because I honestly don’t know how far removed it is from his own personality.  Even if it is, Phoenix is not a sympathetic or interesting “character” in this film.  He doesn’t invite us in, we don’t know him at all, and he seems like an egomaniac.  Antony Langdon plays Phoenix’s friend and assistant and aside from showing off his impressive penis a few times, doesn’t really leave much of an impression.  I wish he would get back in the studio with Spacehog and make some good music.

As for Affleck’s direction?  Well, let’s say that he doesn’t have his brother Ben’s flair for drama, nor does he have a good sense of pacing or tone.  Perhaps with a more conventional narrative, Affleck would be able to prove that he’s a decent filmmaker, but his instincts don’t seem very good from this small sample size.

Honestly, I can’t recommend that you see this film because it won’t offer you any insight nor will it entertain you.  Now let’s hope these talented fellas get back to work quickly.

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7 Responses to “I’m Still Here (Dir. Casey Affleck)”

  1. turd ferguson says:

    i respectfully disagree. its closed minded goobers such as yourself that wouldnt understand this film. go back to making fries.

  2. Noah Forrest says:

    Care to elaborate? Help me understand this film. Just finished making my fries, so I have a snack ready.

  3. K Bro says:

    This film is a perfect example of the level of “talent” presently residing in “Hollywood”.

    The rumours of Hollywoods death are not false.

    This is the sad future of American movies.

  4. There are some fascinating cut-off dates on this article however I don’t know if I see all of them center to heart. There is some validity but I will take maintain opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner as well

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  6. Descargar says:

    Hey, do you have a facebook fanpage?

  7. You need to participate in a contest for among the best blogs on the web. I’ll recommend this website!

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon