Roger Ebert grills Casey Affleck about I’m Still Here

The feline has been released from the fabric container — Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix admitted that their “documentary” I’M STILL HERE was a put-on, and not the legitimate chronicle of a talented actor’s journey on the downward road.

In his original review of the film, legendary critic Roger Ebert had said he’d be infuriated if the whole thing was just a year-long hoax. And while that ire isn’t entirely present in his recent email exchange with Affleck, the film’s director does elaborate on what he and his “star” intended. A sample of the lengthy interview:

Affleck: I wish people hadn’t debated so much the films veracity or authenticity, hadn’t asked only and dully, “Is this real?” But that response is better than apathy, I suppose. Picasso said, “Art is the lie that tells the truth.”

My aim was not to fool. My aim was to provoke thought and stir emotion. The enterprise was a film, not a “hoax.” The idea that Joaquin was really retiring for good and pursuing a rap career in earnest was an act. Nothing was a hoax. At the Toronto Film Festival someone was walking around to theaters in a beard and wig and glasses and telling journalists he was Joaquin Phoenix. That is a hoax. There was nothing else but the deception.

I was making a movie. In a movie we try to deceive. In theaters, as they say, the deceived are the wisest. I was trying to help the audience suspend their disbelief. That is why the film was released without comment from myself or anyone involved. The reason it was MADE without comment and with Joaquin in character when in public was because the media plays a role in the film and the media would not have played their role as well as they did had it been acknowledged that Joaquin was only performing. When I say the media I mean also the unpaid bloggers and vloggers and people all around the world commenting on line.

Affleck also addresses celebrity culture, media coverage, Phoenix’s behavior on and off screen, the recent Letterman appearance, and (answering a question I had) whether Ben Stiller was in on the gag when he showed up disheveled at the Oscars. Check out the whole revealing interview HERE.

Source: Sun Times

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