Idiot Savant Online

John Lichman's third attempt at a personal blog and online savanting idiotic.

I’m Still Here

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dir. Casey Affleck

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It’s been roughly a month or so since I sat down to watch I’m Not There, so all my notes are foreign and useless despite snapshots of what I assumed poignant (Cutting back and forth between his assistant’s conversation with Diddy’s own folks, Phoenix mutters, “this is ridiculous.”) The point There strives to drive home is tough to nail since it exists in three separate timelines:

In one: Joaquin Phoenix is shaken by his own mortality and decides to use his acting career–itself a series of interviews and guest spots where he can recite his talking points verbatim on four programs–to craft a new career: JP, the rapper. Brother-in-law and friend Casey Affleck keeps a record of this tortuous event.

The other: Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix are amazed those considered “celebrity” can constantly fuck up without facing any consequence. They plan to tackle this in a fake documentary and use Joaquin, a bonafide rising star following Walk The Line, to show people how shallow they are.  But after an especially fantastic flame-out on The Late Show and during press junkets for Two Lovers, they find a new focus in how media itself works and almost derails their project.

The third: Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck became so absorbed in “The other” that they almost let it overtake them and it did until there was a legitimate threat to both of their future careers.

The actual truth to what There is supposed to be will be forever lost until we get an “As Told To” interview from director and star. The film is many things: it’s a social commentary that became corrupted by the same society because it wasn’t ready for how fast our media consumption moves now (i.e. in 2007-2009). Affleck would go on to admit the film’s staged nature a few days before its release went national outside of New York and Los Angeles to the NY Times.

Out of all of the shots, it becomes weirdly surreal when Edward James Olmos arrives to give a monologue worthy of his barotone and characteristically mythic status that only recently grew from his stint on Syfy’s Battlestar Galactica. The fact they’re under “They’re Going To Kill Us Productions” speaks volumes about Affleck’s own worry about how the film, a deconstructionist documentary whose stylization grows until the evitable “redemption” in the waters of the Amazon, will be found.

The entire back and forth with Puff Daddy is a clear parallel to There‘s own production: a lack of the “essentials” (craft services, studio, ‘trailers’) replaced by an earnestly sarcastic glimpse into the world of celebrity that over the course of the film’s shoot became more than normal. It became, to steal a phrase shoved down our eye sockets by E!, “super” real and “super new.”

So what do we take away from Here if not a physical example of how our media cycle can literally twist and transform a person into believing they can be something they’re not, even if they once were an Academy Award nominated actor.


Written by john lichman

November 26, 2010 at 12:42 pm

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