I'M STILL HERE is a pretty loose vignette of scenes from a year in the life of Joaquin Phoenix (or JP as he continuously calls himself). We meet his brother-in-law (director Casey Affleck) as well as a couple of his assistants. Affleck is mostly off-screen the whole flick, except for an excellent little exchange where Diddy reveals he didn't like THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD but really liked GONE BABY GONE, and has a very unobtrusive directorial style. JP's assistant Eddie has the thankless task of trying to reign him in the whole movie and Anton is part of a running melodrama with Phoenix and also shows his dick on screen like 40 times.
If you follow movie sites on the internet, I'm sure you know the story. Joaquin Phoenix "retires" from acting to pursue a hip hop career. He does a bunch of "crazy" stuff (like big-tittied hookers, getting pooped on, weed and blow) and gets embarrassed by Letterman.
The hip hop career is the MacGuffin the movie uses to get Phoenix to do the crazy stuff he does and to try to show his journey to enlightenment and the happiness he had as a child. It shows the irresponsibility of the entertainment press in spreading news stories that aren't true and most importantly, gives the movie Diddy. The movie needs Diddy to both legitimize Joaquin's musical efforts and to ultimately reject it as a professional. Joaquin Phoenix is no Posdnous or MC Guru but he's somewhat passable as a rapper. I was actually kinda digging on his performance of "I'm Still Here" towards the end of the flick.
I'M STILL HERE is at its best when JP is interacting with other celebrities. His meeting with Ben Stiller was funny and I'm never ever one to complain about Mos Def getting some screen time. Oddly though, Edward James Olmos comes out of nowhere to steal the movie with a pretty bad-ass speech. It was the only time I was truly engaged with what was going on.
Are people ever going to be able to see beyond JP in his future movie roles? It's a big leap of faith on his part to assume this tiny movie he was making and his "antics" wouldn't paint some picture of him that's going to be hard to separate from any characters he'll be acting as over the next few years.
I'm more interested in why he would make the movie than the movie itself. There's a bit of a narrative arch to it but it's mostly just showing a dude doing some "rebellious" stuff. It's gotta be nice to reach a point in your life/career where you can screw around for a couple years (and potentially f*ck up your future) on a lark. More power to him, I just hope there's not a sequel.
Commentary with Casey Affleck - Another sparse track. Casey doesn't have the most commanding presence but he's informative when he does talk.
Deleted Scenes (commentary by Casey Affleck) (1 hour) - These scenes feature much more philosophizing and Joaquin just sitting around talking. I guess some of it's interesting but I'm thankful it was cut because the movie was already long enough.
Audio conversation with Casey Affleck, Joaquin Phoenix and Jerry Penacoli (of the TV show Extra) (10 Minutes) - I like this Joaquin much better. It's an extremely lively chat between Casey, Joaquin and a reporter who "got it." Joaquin is funny, self-deprecating and appears to have a soul/pulse. Fun little feature.
Audio conversation with Casey Affleck, Joaquin Phoenix and Christine Spikes (Journalism Professor) (25 minutes) - A much dryer interview about the media and it's role in a celebrity's life
Alternate Ending Outtakes (commentary by Casey Affleck) - Pretty much just Joaquin walking. Casey is not exactly the most riveting speaker. There is an interesting talk between Joaquin (out of character) and some of the crew though.