Saturday, 9 July 2011

I'm Still Here (2010) - Casey Affleck

Damn this is a tricky one. It's not often I'm left unsure about what I've just seen, but that's exactly how I felt after seeing this. Not because of the whole is it real or not thing (it's so clearly staged - but we'll get to that later). No it's more to do with is it any bloody good or not?

For those that don't have the foggiest what all this is about, it's as simple as this. Top actor Joaquin Phoenix wins his Oscar for Walk the Line, seems to have a little wobble about the idea of making films for the rest of his life, and decides he wants to make Hip Hop records instead. Luckily best buddy Casey Affleck is there to document Phoenix's journey.

You see I adore the idea, and the potential for what messrs Affleck & Pheonix could say about the idiocy and vacuousness of celebrity is almost limitless. Living as we do in a world where people are absolutely 100% obsessed with other peoples lives, the more famous the person the better. It's also a world where the famous seem to be able to do whatever they want and nine times out of ten get away with it. Hello O.J., oh the gloves didn't fit, eh? So Phil Spector can wave guns around in studios and no one would think about ringing the police, but if he was to try and change careers then he'd be for it. How strange is that? People make far more fuss about Bowie being a naff actor than any of the fascist claptrap he came out with in '75. How can that be?

Then there is whole celebrity meltdown thing that people seem to gather around and stare at in a way that is just uncomfortably bizarre. Be it Tom Cruise on Oprah or Mel Gibson turning Nazi, people just lap this stuff up. This is the sort of thing that I'm Still Here attempts to lampoon/explore. Just what is it like to be an A-lister, is it possible to move out of the box that you've been placed in and just why do people love to see someone fuck up?

Now let's get one thing straight from the get-go, this isn't real. Just check the end credits - Joaquin's old man is actually played by Affleck's pa, and there are a few continuity goofs in there too. At times the acting is totally believable, such as the David Letterman interview or any scene involving Puff Daddy/P-Diddy/Puff Pastry or what ever the fuck his minions are calling him this season. All that stuff works wonderfully. Other times though it feels as if I'm Still Here has wandered into Abel Ferrara territory, the uncomfortable scene with the drugs and prostitutes for instance, and let's not even get into the face poo scene or the amount of times you get to see Phoenix's friends man bits. Those scenes are so over the top you almost expect a full tilt Jack Nicholson to start axing his way through the door. It's a shame because they do destroy the believability of the film. Still real or not would be beside the point if I'm Still Here managed to answer or at least attempt to answer the myriad of questions it throws up, but it doesn't even try to do that. Instead it meanders and is far too long, outstaying it's welcome by a good 20 minutes.

As I write this (and even while I was watching the film), I can't help thinking about how I feel about the whole cult of celebrity and everything that goes with it. You see I'm obsessed with films and music, but don't really read publicity interviews or gossip rags, never watch adverts or have any real interest in the people behind the music/films/books I love. I've never been into the idea of getting autographs or meeting my heroes either. Yet when I look across my bookcases I see loads and loads of biographies/autobiographies, so I'm kidding myself when I say I'm not interested. What I really mean is I'm not obsessed. I couldn't care less about what happened to Michael Jackson or Charlie Sheen, the most their private lives are to me is something to talk about down the pub. Beyond that they are only as relevant to me as their latest work.

Anyway rant over and back to I'm Still Here, I'd say it's worth a look, and who knows maybe in time it'll become a This is Spinal Tap for the noughties, anything's possible after all. I have to mention the ending too, I'm not giving anything away here so don't worry. It's just a long one take tracking shot following Phoenix from behind as he walks further and further up a jungle stream. He walks against the current and slowly sinks deeper and deeper, until finally he is completely engulfed by the water. It may not be all that subtle but I thought it was a beautiful lyrical way to end the film. Oh and I actually thought the music Phoenix made was pretty good, although live he was toilet.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...