By now it's hard to feel resentful about the Casey Affleck-Joaquin Phoenix hoax that is "I'm Still Here." It's just easier to shake your head at the whole misguided stunt.
On Tuesday, director Affleck came out on the stage of "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" to follow up on his comments last week that the entire Phoenix career switch was staged.
Leno, to his credit, asked if Affleck wanted people to think the film was real -- basically, he was asking if Affleck wanted it to cross from postmodern gag into outright deception. And Affleck essentially turned up his palms and acted as though he was surprised by the backlash.
This was a character piece, a "Being John Malkovich homage," from the start, he said. "I'm Still Here" is "not a documentary," he maintained. "It's a movie about an actor who's been doing this for his whole life, and he decides he wants to try something else."
"It doesn't seem like it would cause that much confusion, but it did. And we didn't address it. We never said, like, this isn't really Joaquin." (Well, that just might be why it caused the confusion.)
Affleck went on to say that he did -- sort of -- want people to be a little confused. "We just wanted to make a movie that would help people suspend their disbelief. They could go to the theater, they could experience it and sort wonder whether it's real or not," he said.