I’m Still Here (2010)

 


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“That’s you, drops of water and you’re on top of the mountain of success. But one day you start sliding down the mountain and you think wait a minute; I’m a mountain top water drop. I don’t belong in this valley, this river, this low dark ocean with all these drops of water. Then one day it gets hot and you slowly evaporate into air, way up, higher than any mountain top, all the way to the heavens. Then you understand that it was at your lowest that you were closest to God. Life’s a journey that goes round and round and the end is closest to the beginning. So if it’s change you need, relish the journey.”

    – Edward James Olmos         


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This disturbing record of a dark, unsettling period in the life of Joaquin Phoenix was directed and co-written by brother-in-law, Casey Affleck. Not long after Phoenix finished filming Walk the Line, an award winning role in which Phoenix flawlessly embodied the late great Johhny Cash, he publicly announced that he was dropping out of acting altogether, to pursue a serious career as a rapper. Phoenix grew out his facial hair and gained a considerable amount of weight, becoming unrecognizable, as he underwent an intense period of dissatisfaction, searching for his own authentic means of expression. Not surprisingly, this was a messy transition. Joaquin’s choice to deviate from a lifelong acting career, and attempt to break into rap stardom didn’t fly. All was sloppily documented by Casey Affleck. Not one, but two seemingly poor choices. Joaquin made headlines, appearing on various talk shows, his behavior strange and highly off-putting. He was disassociated and uncharacteristically disrespectful. His drug use obvious, Joaquin seemed to be suffering from a total mental break. He appeared as a guest on David Letterman, throwing everyone for a loop with his bizarre behavior. Letterman was not amused and made it known. With this convincing “documentary” Phoenix successfully leads the public to believe that he is a wreck; disturbed, lacking any measure of self control or reasonable grip on reality.

Months after the film came out, Phoenix appeared in an interview, clean shaven, respectful and relatively eloquent. He claimed that it had all been a sort of artistic statement and anthropological study on celebrity in today’s society. He claimed it was all done to prove a point. If so, he never “pointed” out what that was. Whatever the case may have been, he managed to remain an employed actor. Four years later, hoax or not, he’s the same talented and highly sought after actor that he was before. How he pulled that off remains a mystery.

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