Casey Affleck: “Gotcha!”

Posted by · 3:02 pm · September 16th, 2010

Obviously “Catfish” isn’t the only documentary leaving people wondering whether everything we see is legitimate.  Casey Affleck’s “I’m Still Here,” a chronicle of Joaquin Phoenix’s abandonment of his acting career in favor of a passion for, hip-hop has had many puzzled since Phoenix’s awkward appearance on The Late Show over a year ago.  I’ve always felt like it was a put-on but, well, it just never let up.

Well, Affleck would like to come clean.  The clues have been scattered around since the film bowed in Venice, but in an interview with the New York Times’ Michael Cieply, Affleck says, “It’s a terrific performance, it’s the performance of his career.”  None of it was real, despite Affleck saying he “never intended to trick anybody.”  But the great mystery is settled.

Whether or not the film is as poignant a study of falling from grace is still up in the air.  We can’t be sure how much the idea that everything happening was real might have affected the numerous negative opinions of the film.  Then again, in Venice, Guy noted that the film “is probably more interesting viewed as an immensely committed, avant-garde performance piece by Phoenix” and “a ragged but grimly compelling essay on our vile celebrity-news culture.”

In any case, the cat’s out of the bag, and Phoenix will land back on Letterman’s couch — out of character, this time — on September 22.

[Photo: People]

→ 39 Comments Tags: , , | Filed in: Daily

39 responses so far

  • 1 9-16-2010 at 3:05 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Not surprised. It’s a pretty astonishing performance, then, and a supremely well-executed prank — even if I’m still not quite sure what it’s for.

  • 2 9-16-2010 at 3:25 pm

    Loyal said...

    Best Actor nom?


  • 3 9-16-2010 at 3:25 pm

    Graysmith said...

    I don’t see how this was even an uncertainty to begin with. Maybe at first it seemed like a head scratcher, but the more bizarre news that got out the more obvious it seemed.. And if there was any doubt left it ought to have been smashed to smithereens when the film was announced. No way Phoenix would’ve let himself be filmed for a documentary had it been real.

  • 4 9-16-2010 at 3:31 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Is there anything more irritating than a “how was this even an uncertainty” kind of comment? Serious question. Like, what’s the point behind such a statement? Does it make you feel better about yourself to be above anyone who might have been duped?

    If so, hey, well done! I called it performance art over a year ago and stuck to it but I’m not pulling the “duh” card.

  • 5 9-16-2010 at 3:35 pm

    Davin said...

    I don’t care what anyone else says, I think this is awesome!

  • 6 9-16-2010 at 3:39 pm

    mrmcfall said...

    Bravo, Phoenix. I think his commitment to this outdoes Borat or Bruno, because those were personas. Phoenix put his real name and face to this embarrassing character.

  • 7 9-16-2010 at 3:45 pm

    Duncan Houst said...

    I’m going to be honest. He really had me, and this is such a huge revelation. Screw the mysteries of “Lost” and “Fringe” (although I do love both). Screw M. Night Shyamalan’s trickery (and I mean that). Joaquin Phoenix is the king of the twist ending!

  • 8 9-16-2010 at 4:06 pm

    Al said...

    I never really found the joke funny. Probably because the behavior he was “partaking in” was just what happened to River.

  • 9 9-16-2010 at 4:14 pm

    Davin said...

    I don’t think it is funny, I think it is impressive and rather stunning, and that, I think, was the intent.

  • 10 9-16-2010 at 4:17 pm

    Rashad said...

    I’d nominate him.

  • 11 9-16-2010 at 4:20 pm

    John said...

    I think this was a necessary announcement to keep this concept from losing steam.

  • 12 9-16-2010 at 4:22 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Love this movie!

  • 13 9-16-2010 at 4:32 pm

    Ibad said...

    “Guy noted that the film “is probably more interesting viewed as an immensely committed, avant-garde performance piece by Phoenix” and “a ragged but grimly compelling essay on our vile celebrity-news culture.””

    THERE you go. That’s about the extent I figured with it, and yes, Phoenix did a brilliant job.
    That most of the situations were set up was about the conclusion I came to with my review, although for the film as a whole I didn’t think it even really mattered.

  • 14 9-16-2010 at 5:05 pm

    TJ W said...

    I really hated the movie when I thought it was a doc. I hate it a little less now, but I still wouldn’t watch it again. THAT BEING SAID, he really deserves serious Oscar consideration. Ignoring everything else, just going by the movie, he is just astounding.

  • 15 9-16-2010 at 5:54 pm

    Mark Kratina said...

    Joaquin might still be there, but really, the joke might be on him after all: does anyone really care?

  • 16 9-16-2010 at 5:54 pm

    Silencio said...

    I’m amused, mostly out of relief.

  • 17 9-16-2010 at 6:14 pm

    Evan said...

    I was one of the people who at first was positive that this was all a hoax, but then as time went on was less and less sure. This went on for what, a year and a half? But anyways I think this is pretty amazing work and my appreciation for Phoenix just went way up. Pretty cool performance art if you ask me.

  • 18 9-16-2010 at 6:19 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    I’m glad he just said it so that the boring is-it or isn’t-it dialogue can stop overshadowing what a great film it is.

  • 19 9-16-2010 at 6:19 pm

    W.J. said...

    Phoenix essentially wasted nearly two years of his life pretending to have a mental breakdown and probably caused damage to his mental and physical health in the process. For what? To give his brother-in-law a directorial debut? To show how gullible and celebrity-hungry our culture is? To breathe some new life into what was becoming a listless career?

    Take you’re pick. They’re all very shallow reasons to “pretend” to be a total douche for two years.

    And whats this “never let up” crap. Aside from the day after the Letterman melt down and maybe the past week of mild awareness of this documentary, Phoenix never crossed my mind.

  • 20 9-16-2010 at 7:02 pm

    James D. said...

    Real or not real, it is still a much more interesting project than 99 percent of what crosses theaters. Joaquin is certainly taking the less lucrative route for the sake of art.

  • 21 9-16-2010 at 7:10 pm

    Danny King said...

    Has this film hit OnDemand yet?

  • 22 9-16-2010 at 8:52 pm

    Ella said...

    Now they’re saying Letterman was in on it and was glad to play along during Joaquin’s infamous appearance on his show. I suspected it was a hoax, if for no other reason than Phoenix had previously struck me as a rather nice, unassuming guy, and I guess I didn’t want to believe he could do a complete 180.

  • 23 9-16-2010 at 10:23 pm

    Jack said...

    Dude Joaquin should just join Sig Pi and stfu.

  • 24 9-17-2010 at 12:02 am

    D.B. said...

    I don’t see the point in saying “There is no hoax” over and over and then, suddenly, saying “It’s all a performance.” Not an honest way of conducting yourself.

  • 25 9-17-2010 at 12:20 am

    Hans said...

    Wow, seriously, that’s pretty cool. That’s dedication, man. Are people in a documentary eligible for Best Actor? Well, I guess since it wasn’t really a documentary…

  • 26 9-17-2010 at 1:49 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    “Not an honest way of conducting yourself.”

    Well, hoaxes and honesty aren’t the best of friends.

  • 27 9-17-2010 at 7:27 am

    Sawyer said...

    At least he doesn’t have to put up with the Knocked Up beard jokes from his friends anymore.

  • 28 9-17-2010 at 7:46 am

    Mark Kratina said...

    How does growing a beard, behaving strange, and putting your reputation and career in jeopardy in a documentary constitute good acting? How is his “performance” Academy-worthy?

  • 29 9-17-2010 at 3:59 pm

    Al said...

    Even though I didn’t find this amusing, I can understand best acting nods. He is after all preforming.

  • 30 9-17-2010 at 4:25 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Looks like Letterman was in on it:

  • 31 9-17-2010 at 6:19 pm

    Mark Kratina said...

    Joaquin getting Oscar pub for this performance would be on the smae level as Wilson the Volleyball.

    Actually, Wilson might be more worthy.

  • 32 9-17-2010 at 6:21 pm

    Glenn said...

    While I thought the whole thing was a gag from the getgo, what I really wanna know is… how does James Gray feel? The two have three collaborations to their name and yet Phoenix all but sabotaged the last film, “Two Lovers”, for his own sake and glory. There’s a scene in “I’m Still Here” where he is doing a press roundtable interview and nobody asks about the film, but instead about the rap career. Should Magnolia be pissed that he renegged on any press commitments? I’m be legitimately interested in knowing that Gray/Magnolia have to say.

  • 33 9-17-2010 at 9:03 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Two Lovers was the fourth highest grossing live action film in Magnolia’s history. It did amazing business for that studio so I’m not sure how Phoenix sabotaged it for Gray or anyone.

  • 34 9-17-2010 at 9:11 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Mark: Why? Seriously, would you mind backing up that statement? Can you possibly?

  • 35 9-17-2010 at 9:34 pm

    James D. said...

    Yeah, I can’t see how the press hurt Two Lovers. If anything, wouldn’t it have drawn in business?

  • 36 9-17-2010 at 9:43 pm

    Mark Kratina said...

    Kris: Nothing personal against Joaquin, I just think the whole charade is dumb. We are increasingly surrounded by an entertainment world- be it sports, music, or film- where there exists the genuine question of what, in fact, is real. Whether its CGI, 3D, steroids, etc., I’d just as soon watch something authentic than to feel like Mr. Phoenix spent his time “punking” the audience.

    Just a matter of opinion.

  • 37 9-18-2010 at 12:09 am

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Hate to break it to you Mark Kratina, but there’s no such thing as “authentic” in the way you describe it in any movies. Everybody is pretending.

  • 38 9-18-2010 at 7:53 am

    Mark Kratina said...

    I think you know what I meant, Chad. There’s acting in a traditional sense and then there’s what Joaquin pulled. No need to patronize.

    Honestly, I’m writing about this more than I care to. I didn’t have THAT strong of emotion toward what he did- my initial reaction to it was that it seemed a bit disingenuous. If his performance has its defenders, great. I’d just hate to see people pick up on something like this and try to duplicate it.

    Bottom line: I didn’t mean to sound snarky about it. As I said before, just one guy’s opinion.

  • 39 11-30-2012 at 4:00 pm

    David said...

    It does seem bizarre, doesn’t it? You have to admit, Phoenix in his cruernt bearded incarnation does bear a slight resemblance to Tony Clifton. Not sure I’d see this in theaters if it got a major release, but I’m still really interested to see how this will all play out.