This cinematic oddity from 2010 follows Joaquin Phoenix’s retirement from acting and pursuit of a hip-hop career.
Except it doesn’t. The whole thing was a hoax, staged and scripted by Phoenix and his brother-in-law Casey Affleck. Developed as an essay on celebrity culture, this mockumentary grew out of Phoenix’s amazement that people believe reality TV to be unscripted.
The project successfully explores the relationship between celebrities, the public and the media, exposing our willingness to believe the headlines and to have celebrities fail for our amusement. In short, it’s the greatest hip-hop hoax since The Great Hip-Hop Hoax or Snoop Dogg’s career.
The difference between this and, say, Reincarnated is that Phoenix is utterly convincing. He gains weight and grows a beard that makes it look like a documentary about Peter Jackson’s retirement from directing and becoming a rabbi.
This might be Phoenix’s finest role, totally committing to this challenging, funny and elaborate piece of performance art. JP’s funniest moments include a hilariously awkward appearance on Letterman, several terrible rap shows and a hip-hop star squirming to pretend to like his music. Diddy? No he did not.
Blurring the line between reality, art and trolling, I’m Still Here is an ambitious, provocative and incisive deconstruction of celebrity. So incisive, it seems, that Shia LaBeouf is using it as some sort of career blueprint.
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