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Joaquin Phoenix documentary: Even buyers aren't sure if it's a prank

May 7, 2010 |  4:48 pm

1 It’s far from the Joaquin Phoenix you’re used to seeing onscreen: snorting cocaine, ordering call girls, having oral sex with a publicist, treating his assistants abusively and rapping badly. And not, apparently, playing a role — or was he?

Even after seeing the documentary “I’m Still Here: The Lost Year of Joaquin Phoenix” in a private screening earlier this week, film buyers still aren’t sure of its genuineness. Was the “Walk the Line” and “Gladiator” star, who said more than a year ago that he was quitting acting to become a musician, playing a sophisticated prank, or did he really ditch his Oscar-nominated career to become a disheveled rapper?

Agents at William Morris Endeavor, the sellers of the Casey Affleck-directed film, have started showing the movie to potential distributors, and while some were apparently interested in bidding for “I’m Still Here’s” distribution rights, the shoppers left the screening perhaps even more mystified by Phoenix’s behavior than when they walked in.

Several buyers said the film overflowed with Hollywood debauchery, including more male frontal nudity than you’d find in some gay porn films and a stomach-turning sequence in which someone feuding with Phoenix defecates on the actor while he’s asleep.

The documentary — or is it a mockumentary? — also includes Phoenix’s infamous appearance on “The Late Show With David Letterman,” in which the bearded and bloated actor barely spoke, leaving Letterman bewildered if not infuriated and people wondering about Phoenix’s mental health.

The buyers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Phoenix comes off unsympathetically and shows very little talent for music in the movie, directed by his brother-in-law (Affleck is married to Summer Phoenix). Sales agent WME declined to comment.

In some scenes in the film, the 35-year-old Phoenix is trying to get Sean “Diddy” Combs to produce Phoenix’s rap album, but the hip-hop impresario is not terribly interested. Another sequence shows Ben Stiller approaching Phoenix about starring in writer-director Noah Baumbach’s “Greenberg,” but Phoenix is barely interested.

Two buyers who saw the movie were unsure if Phoenix had turned out an elaborate piece of performance art, where the joke was really on the audience. While they were debating the film’s commercial prospects, the buyers did agree on one thing: They’d never seen anything like it.

-- John Horn

Photo: Joaquin Phoenix. Credit: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times

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Comments () | Archives (36)

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This is just a bunch of self-indulgent crap. Dennis Hopper had The American Dreamer, where he basically walked around ranting nonsense, shooting off guns, taking baths and snorting coke for 90 minutes. Vincent Gallo had The Brown Bunny where he splices together 2 hours of random crap and scenery shots just so he can get a bj from Chloe Sevigny at the end. All these Hollywood types get a big head for a while and decide they're "Artists", and make some awful crapfest of their random daily activites or whatever. He'll be back making real moves again in a year or so.

I miss Juaquin!!

He is a superb actor, and we need him back!!

Put this thing on a DVD and I'll watch it. I can't wait for the clip of Joaquin being crapped on to turn up on YouTube or as an animated GIF.

c'mon, It's a total put on.
At the end of the Letterman interview you can see him smirk at Letterman's crack about wishing he could be there.


I feel bad for all of you boring, uptight, uninteresting, and nervous people that have commented. Why do you even care, let alone get offended by what Joaquin Pheonix does in his spare time?

That was a rhetorical question. Obviously, the answer is because your life is so mediocre, uninteresting, and all-around-sad that just reading about someone who is more free than you is enough to get you to vent your school-girlish-jealousy in an internet comment. Your blatant envy is completely transparent to the rest of us, even if the stick up your butt has diluted you into thinking you aren't jealous.

It really is sad when adults haven't yet learned that different people want different things out of life. Some of you should sit back and realize, that people like Jaoquin Pheonix (and me for that matter), would rather put a bullet in their own head, than live the kind of sterilized, repetitive, predictable, and bland life that most Americans are sleep-walking through.

But at least we have enough class to live and let live, instead of pathetically passing judgment on others because they happen to live their lives differently than my own.

What I love is that this is lost on most people. People want to believe that he is that messed up and will go to the movie just to see a train wreck, but not just any person warrants our attention, only those who are perceived as important (famous, talented, etc). We only want to see people who we admire fail because it makes us feel better. Why do you think so many people are invested in watching Angelina's life? If she failed people would be ALL over it. It's obvious that Joaquin has accomplished exactly what he set out to accomplish. We took on a morbid fascination with what we thought was a complete meltdown, it's all people could talk about for months and still think about on occasion, and now that it's out there for us to really examine, we're disgusted by it. He's forcing us to look at our nature as a society. Pretty Brilliant.

I love Joaquin, No matter what he chooses to do with his life.
I, personally, DO think this is all an act, but even if it isnt, which I highly doubt. I support him in whatever he is seriously doing. Yes, I do miss him in movies, so bad!
& I am a HUUGE fan of the late and very great River as well, and the Phoenix bro's will forever be my idols.
I dont blame Joaq for pulling a prank on the media, they have chewed him up and spit him out so many times since 93' I think this is a really awesome thing he is doing.
Many people may not agree, but I still think this is super clever.
I just hope Joaquin happy in whatever he is doing with his life.

Joaquin is an idiot. If he thinks anyone even CARES about what his intentions were for this piece of garbage, he is mistaken. The trailer confirmed my initial feelings which was that this movie was a stupid self indulgent wannabe borat film. An excuse for Joaquin to try and be labeled a "genius" for doing absolutely nothing but "playing" a slightly more idiotic version of himself. Why is he so desperate for attention? It's pathetic. He never should have done this, and he'll live to regret it. Most of the comments Ive seen about this crap have been negative. He is in for a treat if he thinks the majority of the public will embrace him with open arms after this publicity stunt hoax. What an idiot.

Let Joaquin move on in life - which ever road he chooses. I hope he finds happiness and joy wherever he lands.

He's on a downward spiral. He's lost it; like many actors/actresses have in the past. He could make a come back; it's all up to him though, he is his own worst enemy. Many have made come backs before but he needs help. He needs treatment and support from people who really care enoughto get him help. Instead of just documenting a mental breakdown; which is not cool, not funny, and not even really intertaining, just sad really. He knows he's screwed up but lashes out on those he is closest to. I don't think he has quite hit rock bottom, which is the scary part; for both him and those he's closest to. Hopefully he start to gain some wisdom before falling much further. The end of this flick seemed to draw on the metaphor that he is drowning; don't know, mabe I'm looking at it too deep. The problem I had with the whole thing & just doesn't make since to me is; he says he wants to leave his mark, do better, be better. Well how is being a "rap star" going to accomplish that exactly? If you want to be a better person & be happy & the movie industry isn't doing that for you; how is the music industry going to accomplish that exactly? That would be my question to him.

One thing that I did love about this film, was the scene where he reads the children's book about Dreaming big. It's a beautifully written children's book; and he just looks cute & sweet ( like a child )sitting there reading it. And at the end of it, he looks at the cover & says something like: huh, that's a good book.

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