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Laramie Movie Scope:
I'm Still Here

Profane exercise in narcissistic mockumentary filmmaking

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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December 4, 2010 -- This film caused a sensation before it was ever released because the filming of it was so public, including public music performances and a memorable appearance on national television. This film about the public meltdown of one of the best actors of his generation has become one of the most talked-about films of the year, yet it has made very little money (about $500,000 so far) in theaters. So it is a commercial failure. Is it an artistic failure? I guess not. It depends on how much of this is acting by Joaquin Phoenix and how much of it captures what he really thinks and feels about show business.

Early on in the film it is revealed that reports in the media have surfaced that “I'm Still Here” is not a real documentary film, but a fake documentary, or mockumentary. Joaquin Phoenix (nominated for two academy awards for his performances in films, including “Gladiator”) rants and raves that this is his life and people are making fun of it. The consensus seems to be that this film is, indeed, a mockumentary, and that Phoenix is just putting on an act. If it is totally an act, it is a memorable performance. Phoenix acts like a narcissistic jerk in meltdown mode. He curses and berates people mercilessly. He rants and raves in sudden fits of temper. He rambles aimlessly, mumbling and shuffling lethargically. He laughs and fidgets maniacally. He becomes disheveled, bloated and unkempt. He takes various drugs. He vomits in the middle of a rap concert in Miami after attacking a heckler. It looks like he is falling apart.

The whole idea of the film seems to be to play with the viewer, to keep him wondering how much of this film is real and how much is fake. By the end of the film, I was hoping it was a fake. If real, it would reveal a famous person who should not be celebrated. It would reveal an abusive person with a violent temper and very possibly suffering from dangerous mental disorders and physical and mental addictions. I'm hoping the Joaquin Phoenix in this film is far removed from the real Joaquin Phoenix. How different this fake is from the real one is a question this film cannot answer. According to some published reports, one of the reasons this film was made was to highlight the fact that so-called “reality TV” shows are scripted. This film was reportedly made to mock reality TV. If that's the case, it is a worthy goal. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2010 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)