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Method Man to Method Acting
September 16, 2010 3:41 PM   Subscribe

Casey Affleck finally admits that "I'm Still Here," his recent film which follows Joaquin Phoenix's resignation from acting and following hip hop career, wasn't real.

Initial David Letterman interview that started all the hubbub, and the trailer for the film itself.
Previously.
posted by hempgranola (137 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, DUH.
posted by wcfields at 3:43 PM on September 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


This is my surprise punctuation .
posted by Think_Long at 3:44 PM on September 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Other writers argue that if this chronicle of Phoenix's mental breakdown is real, then the film is sad and exploitative; if it is "fake," then the entire project is just irrelevant and narcissistic.

Yep.
posted by mek at 3:45 PM on September 16, 2010 [21 favorites]


I can't decide if I think this whole thing is stupider as reality or as fiction.
posted by bearwife at 3:45 PM on September 16, 2010 [10 favorites]


How do we know the admission is real?
posted by mazola at 3:46 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


oh my god what a total surprise.

In other news, the third to last paragraph in the NY Times article is maybe the most awkwardly-structured sentence I've ever read in that publication: "Mr. Affleck, for his part, will return to acting for a while, probably in a film for Andrew Dominik, who directed “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” for which Mr. Affleck received an Oscar nomination." That'll be quite enough clauses, slugger. Go ahead and wrap that up.
posted by penduluum at 3:46 PM on September 16, 2010 [37 favorites]


I still don't honestly understand what Phoenix has even done to garner this kind of attention.
posted by Dark Messiah at 3:47 PM on September 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


ANDY KAUFMAN ... I SUMMON THEE!



/me taps foot impatiently



dammit, still doesn't work
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:47 PM on September 16, 2010 [18 favorites]


And? What was the point of it all?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:49 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


See, the joke is he's re-enacting the downward spiral that led to his brother's death by drug overdose. Tickets are $10, popcorn's extra.
posted by Nelson at 3:49 PM on September 16, 2010


Other writers argue that if this chronicle of Phoenix's mental breakdown is real, then the film is sad and exploitative

The fact that Affleck is Phoenix's brother-in-law really was the biggest tip-off for me - I am trying to imagine my sister-in-law making an art project out of my slow descent into insanity... yeah, that would be pretty evil if it were true.
posted by muddgirl at 3:50 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


I actually quite like this. To maintain this fiction for such a long time, with paparazzi etc, must have taken some doing. It's like a long, slow Fuck You to fame, it seems to me.
And the part in the article about it destroying his career seems wrong to me. Surely everyone is going to be dying to see his next film just to see how normal he is again?
posted by conifer at 3:50 PM on September 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


HOW UNPROFESSIONAL.
posted by chugg at 3:50 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I said this in the other thread, so I'll make this one shorter. As a culture we have amply demonstrated that we're happy to sit ringside and watch a celebrity completely melt down. So they went and performed it. If it had been real, and played out in Star magazine and trashy exposes on entertainment tonight or MTV, millions would have watched, rapt.

It looks like a big fuck you to paparrazi culture, and as such I applaud it.
posted by Hildegarde at 3:54 PM on September 16, 2010 [95 favorites]


I still don't honestly understand what Phoenix has even done to garner this kind of attention.

More than the vast majority of the other people who get attention in American pop culture.
posted by The World Famous at 3:56 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is the guy whose heartbreaking 911 call the night he watched his brother die in front of him is on YouTube. He's not the sad, pointless one here.
posted by Hildegarde at 3:57 PM on September 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


Let's focus on the real issue here: Casey Affleck ate a sandwich with no cheese.
posted by phunniemee at 3:57 PM on September 16, 2010 [24 favorites]


> I actually quite like this. To maintain this fiction for such a long time, with paparazzi etc, must have taken some doing. It's like a long, slow Fuck You to fame, it seems to me.

I don't know if I'd go so far as to say I like it, but I think it's pretty interesting, more so than a mere DUH would indicate. But this, hoo boy:
“I never intended to trick anybody,” said Mr. Affleck, an intense 35-year-old who spoke over a meat-free, cheese-free vegetable sandwich on Thursday. “The idea of a quote, hoax, unquote, never entered my mind.”
Sure thing, buddy.
posted by languagehat at 3:58 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let's focus on the real issue here: Casey Affleck ate a sandwich with no cheese.

Fake.
posted by The World Famous at 3:58 PM on September 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


It appears to me that Casey Affleck and Joaquim Phoenix, through years of labour, preparation and self-sacrifice, carefully crafted a product specifically designed to piss you off.

There are lots of different kinds of products in the world, many of them built cheaply and sold cynically, often on the shelves of Wal-Mart, designed to please in the short term while doing no good in the long-term.

I think effortful art in the service of annoying the self-righteous is a net positive for the planet.
posted by bicyclefish at 4:02 PM on September 16, 2010 [23 favorites]


WHen your brother very publically dies of a drug overdose, isn't it just HILARIOUS to spend TWO YEARS making people think you're going to do it, too? What a great use of your time!
posted by GilloD at 4:02 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


I still don't honestly understand what Phoenix has even done to garner this kind of attention.

His performance in Two Lovers was a brilliant and haunting.
posted by any major dude at 4:05 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I still don't honestly understand what Phoenix has even done to garner this kind of attention.

I feel certain I spoke of this in the previous Joaquin Phoenix thread, but it bears repeating: he was in Spacecamp. Which was awesome.
posted by padraigin at 4:07 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


“I never intended to trick anybody,” said Mr. Affleck, an intense 35-year-old who spoke over a meat-free, cheese-free vegetable sandwich on Thursday.

I myself would have gone with a ham-free, turkey-free roast beef sandwich.
posted by DaDaDaDave at 4:07 PM on September 16, 2010 [11 favorites]


It looks like a big fuck you to paparrazi culture, and as such I applaud it.

Also, if one trusts all the deliciously scathing reviews, a really boring, tedious and badly made fuck you to paparazzi culture.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:10 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


somebody close to me has paranoid schizophrenia, and I found the Letterman appearance really really painful, perhaps because of my connection to the illness

Why not just have made a movie wherein he plays a crazy person?

To have it be a giant joke (and fucking no cheese Casey Affleck is full of shit to his tonsils) is pretty insulting to the mentally ill.
posted by angrycat at 4:12 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


More from Casey: “I hope Joaquin gets nominated for all kinds of awards,” wrote Mr. Affleck. “He deserves it.”

Uh, yeah, good luck with that.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:12 PM on September 16, 2010


WHAAAAAAAAAT?
:|
posted by En0rm0 at 4:13 PM on September 16, 2010


WHen your brother very publically dies of a drug overdose, isn't it just HILARIOUS to spend TWO YEARS making people think you're going to do it, too? What a great use of your time!

Guess what? I had no idea that act was continued any further than the Letterman appearance. You know why, because I don't spend any time reading Gawker or watching E. Maybe the people who are upset about being duped should spend their time more productively than snooping into the trials and tribulations of people they don't even know.
posted by any major dude at 4:16 PM on September 16, 2010 [28 favorites]


Maybe the people who are upset about being duped

Er. I don't think anyone here is upset about being duped. Mostly because I don't think anyone here WAS actually duped by what was painfully obviously a performance art piece from the very beginning.
posted by elizardbits at 4:20 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


In other news, bears are still Catholic and popes still shit in the woods.
posted by chara at 4:20 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh. Film business dingdongs wasted their time on a stupid idea. How yawn-worthy.
posted by uraniumwilly at 4:20 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Casey Affleck finally admits that "I'm Still Here," his recent film which follows Joaquin Phoenix's resignation from acting and following hip hop career, wasn't real.

THANKS FOR THE SPOILER, NO-CHEESE CASEY!
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 4:21 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know why, because I don't spend any time reading Gawker or watching E.

Right, like commenting on Metafilter is the ne plus ultra of an enriched life. Bravo.
posted by dhammond at 4:24 PM on September 16, 2010 [21 favorites]


Actually, now I think it's real and this is Casey doing damage control on his heartless exploitation of his imploding brother in law. WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN, AFFLECK.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:25 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


ONTD weighs in: I think this makes him seem even more crazy than before.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:28 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


In other words, he Gerry'd us.
posted by davebush at 4:30 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


This seems awfully obvious... I have a hard time believing anyone was genuinely taken in by it as anything other than a vanity piece.
posted by modernnomad at 4:34 PM on September 16, 2010


Let's be clear, here. Joaquin Phoenix is a deeply insane person, and this movie is a depiction of that insanity. But it's not the kind of insanity that people generally thought was going on.

Joaquin Phoenix decided, a couple years back, to devote a year and a half of his life to having a completely over-the-top public breakdown, and proceeded to do exactly that. For a year and a half. Never breaking kayfabe, never letting on until the release of the documentary that this was intentional, and tricking everybody. The events depicted aren't fake - they happened, with a couple of exceptions - they were just orchestrated as part of the larger scheme. This is Andy Kaufman level shit. Joaquin's insanity isn't what we see on camera, it's in planning and executing an eighteen month performance art piece, and filming it.
posted by kafziel at 4:35 PM on September 16, 2010 [32 favorites]


I WANT TO BELIEVE.
posted by mazola at 4:35 PM on September 16, 2010


Ticket sales must be poor, if they are admitting to the hoax this soon.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:36 PM on September 16, 2010 [16 favorites]


who cares? why?
posted by Postroad at 4:37 PM on September 16, 2010


Doesn't the act of pretending to go insane for 2 years make you legitimately insane?
posted by sharkitect at 4:38 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Was this part of the funny, too?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:39 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


“I never intended to trick anybody,” said Mr. Affleck... Most mockumentaries, in the way of “This Is Spinal Tap,” wear their foolishness on their sleeves, leaving no doubt about their character as fiction. But Mr. Affleck... said he wanted audiences to experience the film’s narrative, about the disintegration of celebrity, without the clutter of preconceived notions. So he said little in interviews. “We wanted to create a space,” he said. “You believe what’s happening is real.”

So, you didn't intend to trick anybody, except for the fact that you explicitly intended to trick er'body. Glad we could clear that all up.
posted by dgaicun at 4:40 PM on September 16, 2010


It's not real? I guess I won't go see it then.
posted by punkrockrat at 4:40 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


As a culture we have amply demonstrated that we're happy to sit ringside and watch a celebrity completely melt down. So they went and performed it. If it had been real, and played out in Star magazine and trashy exposes on entertainment tonight or MTV, millions would have watched, rapt. It looks like a big fuck you to paparrazi culture, and as such I applaud it.

Exactly what I took from it.

Their Spinal Tap comparison was interesting, but slightly misplaced imo. Even before they reached that part, I was thinking how this sounded like Spinal Tap brought "up to date" in terms of the subject matter and presentation. ST/1970s: childlike rock stars goof around with silly big egos; we see pomposity, pretension, bitching & arguments and farcical fuckups, but generally about their actual work. OK, there's Jeanine, but her involvement is in how she affects the band as a band. We're not seeing David beat her, or Derek self-harming, or Nigel injecting heroin and getting Hep C.

For all the band come out looking ridiculous, it's mostly of their own doing, rather than overt put-downs from Reiner. As a 'documentary' it purports to be made with consent, 'exclusive access to the band for this heavyweight cinema-released project' sort of thing. So overall, it still presents them in a relatively hagiographic way.

As compared to more recent celebrity media (both professional and internet), a constant, 24/7 collage of unauthorised photography, rumours, gossip and often rather vicious, judgemental commentary about weight and eating; alcohol / drug use; sex lives, relationships, affairs, divorces, custody battles; psychological meltdowns, trips to rehab; etc ad infinitum. Evidently, Affleck's target for the mock in mockumentary.

So it sounds to me like this is a Yes Minister -> The Thick of It type update. Doing to Heat what Brass Eye did to the news. (Forgive my anglo-centric cultural touchpoints.) Excellent concept by the sounds of things, certainly wouldn't dismiss it as irrelevent and narcisstic from what I've read.

The main, huge flaws in all this reasoning are that I wasn't a consumer of 1970s celebrity media coverage, so maybe I have its nature all wrong, and that I haven't seen the film, so even if it is a good concept, it may be terribly executed for all I know.
posted by Slyfen at 4:44 PM on September 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


“We wanted to create a space,” he said. “You believe what’s happening is real.”

Right. For two years, they go to great pains to get everyone to believe it's real - so that they will experience the film they way you want them to. And then, as soon as the film is released and before people actually see it, you tell them it's not real. Wait, what? Something's going on.
posted by The World Famous at 4:45 PM on September 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


Surely everyone is going to be dying to see his next film just to see how normal he is again?
Not unless "everyone" == bored tabloid readers and/or Chelsea Lately fans.

It's like a long, slow Fuck You to fame, it seems to me.
You mean this whole thing designed to get lots of publicity and make $$ from a fake documentary that cost next to nothing to make? Whatever, Joachin.

Also, I never heard of Casey Affleck before a week ago, so apparently this "Fuck You to Fame" has already paid off.
posted by coolguymichael at 4:45 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Having watched the film, there were a ton of fairly obvious hints throughout the whole thing that it was fake.

Before going to meet P.Diddy, there were well timed awkward moments that seemed scripted and unnatural. Similarly when Ben Stiller came to visit Phoenix and pitch a role in Greenberg to him. Early on in the film, he claims that without acting gigs he's gonna lose his house in six months if he doesn't get his rapping career going. Yet the entire time he's flying across the country, chartering jets and otherwise pissing away money in vast amounts. Oh, and on one of his first class flights, he happens to be on the same flight as Mos Def who (coinicdentally) has been making the exact same career shift as Phoenix is supposedly trying to make, only in reverse.

Top that off with the idea that Affleck would have to be the most uncaring, enabling asshole to film this whole descent and you have a pretty good case that the film your watching is 100% bullshit. Truthfully, it was difficult to make it to the end and damn tedious.
posted by piratebowling at 4:47 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: Ticket sales must be poor, if they are admitting to the hoax this soon.

This. Also, though I've found both men talented in the past, the fact that both came to fame mostly because they were the younger brothers of better known siblings and the marketability of the "sibling story" as a Hollywood celebrity building block... well, hypocritical isn't at all the word.

I'd just be much more interested in seeing what they have to say about the fame machine itself and the true way that it's affected their lives more than I want to see them put on dog-and-pony sideshow where saying "fuck you" to the fame machine that built them, especially when said show is the fake downward spiral tragedy of the brother whose real brother died tragically.

Maybe I'm not artistic enough. But I don't think that's it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:48 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


(I really meant that I don't find hypocritical the word... accidental paragraph break meant it sound sarcastic...it just rubs me the wrong way in a way that's like hypocritical but not at al that.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:49 PM on September 16, 2010


One good way to say "fuck you" to fame would have been for Phoenix to bleach his hair and put on thick-lensed glasses, making him virtually unrecognizable, and then spend two years working in a Starbuck's under the assumed name of, I don't know, Bill. Without filming it. Fuck you, fame, I can imagine him saying, this shit is rad!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:54 PM on September 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


"Casey Affleck finally admits 'I'm Still Here'" reads better to me.
posted by rhizome at 5:04 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Saw it two nights ago, thoroughly enjoyed it and even put me on a bit of a high. Discovering it's fake doesn't change that. It still works for me. I think it is a kind of a 'fuck you' and I appreciate it. And it's a funny movie.

The fact that any adult on this planet feels he has any right to know what goes on in the life of a celebrity? That's a good reason to make this movie.

Haters gonna hate, but lots and lots of other people are gonna enjoy an entertaining spectacle. There's far too much pseudo-cynical pretense to being the kind of switched on character who doesn't take kindly to be being misled and it's a bit sad really. Its just storytellng.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 5:07 PM on September 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


Other writers argue that if this chronicle of Phoenix's mental breakdown is real, then the film is sad and exploitative; if it is "fake," then the entire project is just irrelevant and narcissistic.

or....

how about all four: sad, exploitive AND irrelevant and narcissistic....
posted by victors at 5:10 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fuck you, fame, I can imagine him saying, this shit is rad!

I imagine he'd miss the money and sex.
posted by jonmc at 5:11 PM on September 16, 2010


For two years, they go to great pains to get everyone to believe it's real

Except that everyone who had heard about it, knew or strongly suspected it was fake from the beginning. The pains they took weren't that great - a strange appearance on Letterman, a rap album, showing up at an awards show with a posse. A beard. So I guess I'm wondering why they'd "admit" it was fake at all, other than to drum up the publicity that they seemed to be mocking...
posted by muddgirl at 5:11 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


There's surely a difference between saying fuck you to fame and saying fuck you to paparazzi let's-put-this-trainwreck-on-tv journalism and voyeurism. Unless you mean anyone who's an actor deserves to be stalked and filmed within an inch of their life. Doesn't everyone deserve at least a modicum of human dignity?

Someone made a decision to put film of Britney Spears' vulva on the internet. And all those recorded phone calls from one ex-spouse to another, or some actor telling off his kid. And people watch it, listen to it, eat it up!

So rather than a "fuck you, fame" sort of statement, I'd say this is more like: that's the kind of thing you consider entertainment? Okay, well, you asked for it, here you go!

I don't particularly want to see the film, but I respect them for making it, no matter how bad it is.
posted by Hildegarde at 5:12 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Borat?
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:15 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I actually found Joaqin's fluffy rabbinical-ass-looking beard far more offensive than this stupid-ass collegiate prank.
posted by jonmc at 5:15 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


One good way to say "fuck you" to fame would have been for Phoenix to bleach his hair and put on thick-lensed glasses, making him virtually unrecognizable, and then spend two years working in a Starbuck's under the assumed name of, I don't know, Bill. Without filming it. Fuck you, fame, I can imagine him saying, this shit is rad!

You can do this, too, you know -- and benefit from it. Many years ago, when I'd moved from crappy part-time wage slave jobs to something stable, corporate and well-paying (but also with high pressure to perform), I would stop by a friend's crappy part-time wage slave job once a week to help her close the store. I usually swept the floors and cleaned the tables, and kept her company. When you have a high-pressure job, it's actually fun to do something that's relatively mindless and lets you have some good company, even if you don't make a dime.
posted by davejay at 5:18 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


“I never intended to trick anybody,” said Mr. Affleck, an intense 35-year-old who spoke over a meat-free, cheese-free vegetable sandwich on Thursday.

Wuss. You're only legit when it's condiment-free and bread-free, too. And free.
posted by Xere at 5:21 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


"When you have a high-pressure job, it's actually fun to do something that's relatively mindless and lets you have some good company, even if you don't make a dime."

As a dude who did relatively mindless jobs for far too long I think you don't get the full fun effect until you're toiling 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. F.U.N. It's amazing how all the pressure just falls away when all you can think about is perhaps not making it to the future because you can't afford something as simple as a holiday. Ever. Fun!
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 5:26 PM on September 16, 2010 [13 favorites]


I've actually heard some decent things about the film. Good movie or no, I really don't understand the anger about it. I mean legitimately surprised.
posted by brundlefly at 5:28 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know I am not the only one to be irked by this but...

“I never intended to trick anybody,” said Mr. Affleck, an intense 35-year-old who spoke over a meat-free, cheese-free vegetable sandwich on Thursday. “The idea of a quote, hoax, unquote, never entered my mind.”

The NYT's writing is often so distracting I just want to bludgeon someone with a blue depression glass ashtray that would look more at home in a trailer park than this Park Ave. high rise ($3.8 million).
posted by munchingzombie at 5:30 PM on September 16, 2010 [24 favorites]


I haven't seen the film, nor followed the story, so I'm wondering why everyone thinks that the intent was to be funny. It seems plausible that it wasn't supposed to be a joke, but a commentary on celebrity culture thoroughly shaped by Phoenix' experience with his brother.

Is that definitely not the case?
posted by graphnerd at 5:33 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Never breaking kayfabe, never letting on until the release of the documentary that this was intentional, and tricking everybody

He didn't trick everybody. I can't be the only one who knew this was a come on since before the Letterman appearance.

"Phoenix, I served with Andy Kaufman, I knew Andy Kaufman, Andy Kaufman was a friend of mine. Phoenix, you're no Andy Kaufman."
posted by vitabellosi at 5:33 PM on September 16, 2010


It's a little brother thing.
posted by rainbaby at 5:39 PM on September 16, 2010


I've actually heard some decent things about the film. Good movie or no, I really don't understand the anger about it. I mean legitimately surprised.

Honestly, I think if the movie had been made by people who aren't famous by association (whether they are talented in their own right or not), it would bother people a lot less. I mean, there's the feeling of someone trying to pull a practical joke on the world at large, which doesn't usually go over well with, like, the world at large, but that whole "fuck you to fame" thing kinda rankles when it seems like these are people who, you know, may not have done much to get fame other than be related to someone famous, and who have benefited enormously from same. It's like George Bush making a movie that says fuck you to being a rich, entitled douchebag. I actually never thought of Phoenix as a douchebag before -- he's an actor I've liked in several movies, and if I thought about him as a person outside of his movies at all (which I just about never have), it was pretty much that I thought it was cool that he hadn't let early tragedy trip him up -- but I kinda see him as one now, because I get the feeling he sees most everybody else that way. I mean, the guy turned his life into For the Lulz - The Movie, and I think that's very easy to find unlikeable.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:41 PM on September 16, 2010


Meh.

George Bush stayed in character for 8 years playing 'The President'.
posted by mazola at 6:01 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


And? What was the point of it all?

If not for this stunt I would have never have watched the Letterman spot promoting Phoenix's new movie "Two Lovers", and promoting the movie was the purpose of being on Letterman. Desperate times (declining network TV audiences) call for, in not desperate, at least more creative measures.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:08 PM on September 16, 2010


Reminds me of the lame ruse by that Oprah book guy who pretended to be a hard-ass drug addict memoir-writer. Only they get to sell it as "a comment on..."
It sounds kind of funny though, unintentionally perhaps. I'll probably watch it when it comes out on DVD.
posted by chococat at 6:12 PM on September 16, 2010


I actually found Joaqin's fluffy rabbinical-ass-looking beard far more offensive than this stupid-ass collegiate prank.

You all nicely trimmed beard types with your disdain for the young fuzzy faced kids of today ;-)
posted by i_cola at 6:13 PM on September 16, 2010


I mean, the guy turned his life into For the Lulz - The Movie, and I think that's very easy to find unlikeable.

I think you're being a bit hasty in characterizing the final product as some sort of Borat-style prank. Nothing I've read about it indicates that's the case. Perhaps we should hold off judgement on the whole affair until we've actually seen the film?
posted by brundlefly at 6:13 PM on September 16, 2010


*sigh* Here we go again. Tale told by an idiot, sound and fury, etc, etc
posted by koeselitz at 6:16 PM on September 16, 2010


It's like a long, slow Fuck You to fame, it seems to me.

Yeah. I mean, after all, it's so much easier to land good-paying, challenging and fulfilling acting gigs when you're totally not famous. Completely obscure. The kind of person you never hear about, the kind of person you never read about, whose photograph you never see: those are the ones getting the best roles and the highest fees. If I was a movie actor, I'd totally say "fuck you" to fame, too.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:19 PM on September 16, 2010


Real celebrities who succumb to real mental illness, apart from substance abuse, do so quietly and in seclusion. Generally, the first sign that something is wrong is that the celebrity has died under circumstances that look very much like suicide before the spin-men get into the act and play it off as an accident or overdose.

The fact that Joaquim didn't display any symptoms more serious than delusions of grandeur and mild manic-depression was the first hint - it's spoiled, self-indulgence, on the part of the "celebrity" (the actor playing a less-than-idealized version of himself) and on the part of the viewer (who wallows in schadenfreude like a pig in shit, until they realize there is no schadenfreude, only shit all over their clothes.)

As such, a bold slap-in-the-face to tabloids-as-diagnosis, I applaud it as a solid step forward for mental health. It's not a spectacle, it's not a scene, and if you think it is, you're being pranked.

Casey Affleck is fully capable of this level of thought, even if his brother and lead actor aren't.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:24 PM on September 16, 2010


...Mr. Affleck, an intense 35-year-old who spoke over a meat-free, cheese-free vegetable sandwich on Thursday.

I thought he ate a bug?
posted by carsonb at 6:33 PM on September 16, 2010


"Actinnnnng!!"
-Lovitz
posted by hal_c_on at 6:46 PM on September 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


I applaud it as a solid step forward for mental health.

Man, I do not get this at all.

He may not have pretended to manifest signs of psychosis, but he looked like a crazy guy that somebody had put into a suit.

What if he had gone on Letterman and announced he had cancer? And then there was this movie that pretended he had cancer? And then Affleck eats his no-cheese sandwich and sez, oh, it was fake, obviously.

I think a hell of a lot of people would be up in arms. Because it's making a big joke out of a misery that many other non-famous, non-rich people share.
posted by angrycat at 6:53 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Since when is being disaffected and a drug-addict a disease? He wasn't being a crazy guy, he was being an out of control actor the way that out of control actors are portrayed in entertainment media.

He's no Kaycee Nicole, for christ's sake.
posted by Hildegarde at 6:57 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seriously, angrycat, leave cancer out of it. At no time has anyone involved in the film (or any of the reviews, as far as I've read) suggested that this is a depiction of mental illness. If it feels that way to you, well, that's your business, but don't godwin it by pulling someone else's terrible illness into it.
posted by Hildegarde at 7:00 PM on September 16, 2010


Seriously, angrycat, leave cancer out of it.

Yeah thats right...listen to my boy. Plus, you get off the cancer, and I'll get off your moms.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:08 PM on September 16, 2010


So... Any word on my brilliant Keystone Leo conspiracy theory?

This is open Joaquin thread #4, btw.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:10 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Comment 2 from the Guardian article puts it best

Is it possible that considering these matters has broken something important in one of our brains? All I can discern is a torrent of wank.

posted by lalochezia at 7:10 PM on September 16, 2010


I don't really know how to say this, besides that i agree with angrycat.

Mental disorders are hugely stigmatized in this country. I don't think it's out of line to assume that someone who is pretending to quack like a duck is pretending to be a duck, whether he knows it or not.
posted by muddgirl at 7:11 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Check it out. Dustin Hoffman, 'Rain Man,' look retarded, act retarded, not retarded. Counted toothpicks, cheated cards. Autistic, sure. Not retarded. You know Tom Hanks, 'Forrest Gump.' Slow, yes. Braces on his legs. But he charmed the pants off Nixon and won a ping-pong competition. That ain't retarded. Peter Sellers, "Being There." Infantile, yes. Retarded, no. You went full retard, man. Never go full retard. You don't buy that? Ask Sean Penn, 2001, "I Am Sam." Remember? Went full retard, went home empty handed..."

In the same vein - Phoenix went "full crazy" in a way that mocks mental health in a knowing and deliberate way, and demands we re-assess what we know about sanity.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:19 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


What exactly did he do that mocked mental health? I haven't seen the film, so I really don't know. Giving a bad interview to Letterman doesn't seem like a mental health problem, so I presume it's not that. Or changing careers, or getting fat, or growing a beard. Getting shat on? Doing drugs?
posted by Hildegarde at 7:22 PM on September 16, 2010


What exactly did he do that mocked mental health?

He pretended to have a mental breakdown for the purpose of entertainment.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:34 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


He pretended to have a mental breakdown for the purpose of entertainment.

No, he didn't. People are vicariously asserting all kinds of things which don't have a basis in what both of them admitted to.

This is stupid... It's a joke... He's just a semi-famous douche doing stupid art!

That's the point. In this day and age the spectacle is 'The Fame'. We have "reality TV" which is in large part about ad hoc fame. We have gossip rags that constantly talk about what the famous are doing, eating, who they're sleeping with. The breaking news in gossip is all the negative crap. Britney's breakdown must've produced millions, let me repeat that MILLIONS, of dollars worth of revenue for gossip mags, shows, and blogs.

As a culture we have amply demonstrated that we're happy to sit ringside and watch a celebrity completely melt down. So they went and performed it. If it had been real, and played out in Star magazine and trashy exposes on entertainment tonight or MTV, millions would have watched, rapt.

Exactly.

Pastabagel has a nice little comment about reality tv:
Reality shows are about the audience.... As long as the show ends with the viewer feeling superior and self-satisfied, that viewer will tune in again next week. And that's what reality shows are about--appealing to and reinforcing the worst in us.

This movie uproots and subverts everything that people secretly hold dear about watching, listening to, and talking about slander and scandal.
These guys are a couple of nobody, douches? I don't think so. These guys did it because they could. Both of them have been in some big movies in the last ten years and are somewhat bankable. They have the latitude to be able to not only try but apparently pull this off.

The question isn't how do you feel about this, it's why do you feel that way. Than take a step back and contextualize that in the frame of neither of them ever explicitly stating it was anything other than a movie.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:41 PM on September 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


So was Werner Herzog's rescue fake too?
posted by mecran01 at 7:42 PM on September 16, 2010


Sounds like the 47 Ronin, but with no point.
posted by ovvl at 7:59 PM on September 16, 2010


[the faked home movie footage] .... was actually shot in Hawaii with actors, then run back and forth on top of an old videocassette recording of “Paris, Texas” to degrade the images.

So they're saying they shot it using a VHS camcorder? And the VHS tape already had something recorded on it? But what's this bit about "run back and forth"? Does that mean that they just played it and rewound it repeatedly to wear the tape further?

(Hey, I might need this technique one day.)
posted by Clay201 at 8:03 PM on September 16, 2010


I get that this is supposed to be a statement on the beast that is celebrity culture, those that obsess over it, and the schadenfreude of watching someone self-destruct. And the attention payed to the various stunts Phoenix and Affleck pulled just proved their point.
I think though, that if at any point people just stopped paying attention/caring, that they would have stopped. Most likely they would have just upped the ante until we payed attention again. Because if the media and public stopped screaming "Holy shit balls! Did you hear what Joaquin Phoenix did? He was rapping and fell off the stage!!!", then that would have ruined the narrative of their little art experiment.


or someting along these lines. I'm shit at getting the thoughts in my head to flow through my hands and onto tangible objects
posted by Epsilon-minus semi moron at 8:20 PM on September 16, 2010


*I don't think though.* is what I meant to say.
posted by Epsilon-minus semi moron at 8:36 PM on September 16, 2010


I'm sure Mel Gibson is formulating his "it was all a performance piece" press statement right now. On second thought, he's pretty committed to the art, so he might work the piece for another decade or two.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:40 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


it was the Letterman performance that led me to believe that he gone sadly to some crazy place. I don't get those who didn't see that appearance as either a faked or legitimate manifestation of a mental illness.

And I haven't seen the films, but I've read the reviews, and I've not seen any critical analysis that has picked on some profound statement of celebrity culture. Hell, South Park did it brilliantly with that episode with Brittany Spears, and that's a daily cartoon. What I mean is, I don't see the profound exercise here (in the film)

Didn't mean to goodwin it with the cancer comparison; my apologies. there's just a weird disconnect between how I'm reacting to it and how others are that I'm trying to understand/engage.
posted by angrycat at 8:56 PM on September 16, 2010


I can't wait to see the documentary on the process of making Affleck's and Phoenix's fake documentary, so we can argue whether or not that documentary is actually a fake rendition of the filming of the fake documentary, and ohmigod it's ALL SO META.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:57 PM on September 16, 2010


I don't get those who didn't see that appearance as either a faked or legitimate manifestation of a mental illness.

You don't have cats, do you? They constantly recover from some mistake by acting like they meant to do that all along.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:58 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hildegarde: So rather than a "fuck you, fame" sort of statement, I'd say this is more like: that's the kind of thing you consider entertainment? Okay, well, you asked for it, here you go!

While I think this is a very generous consideration to give the whole endeavor, even if I'm to give it that much thought (let alone that much credit), I have to think this as a whole, it's a pretty big failure.

Phoenix and Affleck, despite their potentially A-list celebrity credentials, aren't famous in the sort of slimeball infotainment way you mentioned and couldn't fake it because, despite us living in a TMZ/Perez Hilton/Access Hollywood world, celebrity and fame are as much of a construct as they were back when the studio system tried to tell the world Rock Hudson was gay. Even train wrecks, if not actually staged, are created by the system.

You can get away with the stunts that Phoenix pulls in the movie (drugs, hookers, even weirdness involving other celebrities who aren't in on the joke) and not have them be front page news, which is why this failed. When Phoenix did weird shit on Letterman, it was something but the rest of the time he was off the radar and since he wasn't even considered back page worthy celebrity when he wasn't part of the machine. So because the train wreck wasn't shown except in the movie, it doesn't become something we can be "blamed for" as "entertainment we asked for" -- because nobody paid attention.

In fact, it's the opposite. Nobody paid it any attention, so they had to announce the punchline/moral of the story/truthiness truth on a conveniently timed Thursday announcement so there would be something for the entertainment press report right before the all-important weekend box office. (Looking at the box office, it seems pretty clear that if it didn't go up, it would start disappearing from even the largest of markets -- there only so many small screens out there.)

In other words, the behind the scenes games the makers of the movies are playing is more interesting than the games in front of the camera.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:29 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I first saw a replay of his Letterman interview I thought, "Hmm, this guy is fucking stupid and nuts." THen about a day later I stopped thinking about it for the last 18 months or so. Never gave a shit about it. Then I saw this post and read the article and said to myself, "Self, this dude is still nuts, but he stayed in character for 2 friggin years. Impressive." Now I will get right back to not thinking of caring about it again.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:34 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I was a child, my cousin died of a malignant brain tumor. If I were to film a mockumentary where I pretended I had a malignant brain tumor for comic effect, I'd be a dick. Therefore, Joaquin (I'm sorry, I still think of him as Leaf) Phoenix is a dick. I've employed my share of dark humor in my time, but I can't fathom how someone who watched his brother die of a drug overdose could be so glib about it. You want to expose the fame machine, fine, but don't make a joke of it.
posted by Ruki at 10:37 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


As a dude who did relatively mindless jobs for far too long I think you don't get the full fun effect until you're toiling 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. F.U.N...

I was going to respond to this, but then I realized it was time for my vacation to start. Tally-ho!
posted by davejay at 10:37 PM on September 16, 2010


All of this just confirms my loathing of beards, especially among young people who haven't earned the age-given right to grow truly hideous stuff out of their cheeks and necks and still maintain a plausible pretense of dignity.
posted by treepour at 10:46 PM on September 16, 2010


Slap*Happy: "The fact that Joaquim didn't display any symptoms more serious than delusions of grandeur and mild manic-depression was the first hint - it's spoiled, self-indulgence, on the part of the "celebrity" (the actor playing a less-than-idealized version of himself) and on the part of the viewer (who wallows in schadenfreude like a pig in shit, until they realize there is no schadenfreude, only shit all over their clothes.)"

This is ripe for parody. Hyper-moping like Paul Rudd picking up his tray in "Wet Hot American Summer," listening to late-period Scott Walker, an Orson Welles impression when talking about plans and oneself, and a little bit of "Numberwang!" Look for it on YouTube in a week.
posted by rhizome at 10:57 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


May I just interject to say that I'm pretty sure this was staged? The thematic parallels to the source material are just way too perfect to be accidental.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:59 PM on September 16, 2010


Wait, is this this dude who did Catfish?
posted by Kloryne at 11:30 PM on September 16, 2010


May I just interject to say that I'm pretty sure this was staged?

Gilliam is still trying to make that movie. And still having problems.
posted by mek at 11:49 PM on September 16, 2010


Casey Affleck does not have talent; he has celebrity; there's a difference. We have gone so far down the road of mediocrity in this culture that we actually pay attention to no-talents like Affleck. Whatever.
posted by Vibrissae at 12:01 AM on September 17, 2010


Gilliam is still trying to make that movie. And still having problems.

Quite the impossible dream, innit?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:12 AM on September 17, 2010


Where does Werner Herzog figure into this? I mean, this guy knows, sort of, the difference between fiction and reality.
posted by CCBC at 3:22 AM on September 17, 2010


(Should have given a hat tip to mecran there. Sorry, Dude.)
posted by CCBC at 3:27 AM on September 17, 2010


Shit sandwich
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:49 AM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whew. I wasn't getting worried there for a bit.
posted by PuppyCat at 6:30 AM on September 17, 2010


I rather like this idea.

I admire the effort.

And I will unashamedly admit that I am curious to see it.
posted by zizzle at 7:35 AM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


muddgirl: "So I guess I'm wondering why they'd "admit" it was fake at all, other than to drum up the publicity that they seemed to be mocking..."

Phoenix did show up at the film premiere sans beard and weight. I suspect they thought that that would be enough of a hand tip.
posted by roll truck roll at 7:50 AM on September 17, 2010


"Mr. Affleck, an intense 35-year-old who spoke over a meat-free, cheese-free vegetable sandwich"

His fucking double burger must still be on layaway.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 7:55 AM on September 17, 2010


Dammit. So Joaquin won't be headlining Rock the Bells next year? *crushed*
posted by missmobtown at 8:24 AM on September 17, 2010


Casey Affleck does not have talent; he has celebrity; there's a difference.

Am I thinking of the same Casey Affleck that you are? The guy in Gone Baby Gone and The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford?

Maybe there's a broader point to be made about the difference between "talent" and "craft" in acting. But I think he has more than just celebrity, given that he has given better acting performances than a lot of other well-known actors.
posted by The World Famous at 8:44 AM on September 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


First, this is really great. The movie, the whole thing. I suspected it was fake the whole time, and thought it was funny the whole time. And giving Letterman the chance to make the "sorry you couldn't be here" quip was icing on the cake.

Second, while Casey Affleck is only a celebrity because of Ben, at least for my generation (b. 1991), Joaquin Phoenix is much more famous than River, and I like him based on talent.

Third, Joaquin Phoenix is the one to decide whether this is disrespectful to his brother, and not random people on the internet, don't you think?

Fourth, this isn't The Producers. Both Affleck and Phoenix could have made a ton more money in the last couple of years by doing other projects, no doubt about it. The whole thing seems to me like they're doing it for fun or for art, or whatever, and maybe it's actually a bad movie, but regardless, calling them greedy and exploitative is a little ridiculous. I'll be watching it tonight. (This weekend's an Affleck-fest between this and The Town!)
posted by papayaninja at 8:56 AM on September 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


Casey Affleck is only a celebrity because of Ben

But he gets acting gigs because he can act. He's not Frank Stallone.
posted by The World Famous at 9:03 AM on September 17, 2010


Wow.

This thread takes me back to that time when I was old enough to read Bartleby the Scrivener but too young to understand what he was doing.
posted by Twang at 9:24 AM on September 17, 2010


Oh, and on one of his first class flights, he happens to be on the same flight as Mos Def who (coinicdentally) has been making the exact same career shift as Phoenix is supposedly trying to make, only in reverse.

Not true at all. How soon we have forgotten Def's stellar emoting as Dante Bezé in the Cosby Mysteries, 1994.

The Joachim Phoenix appearance on Letterman was rebroadcast last night. I tuned in to see what the big deal was. What it reminded me of was a recurring piece they would play on the Carson show. The guest was supposed to be the leader of a Polish American antidefamation group--he would stay in character and berate Carson for telling Polish jokes on his show. Carson and the guest never let on that it was staged--and iirc, it was the director John Frankenheimer (I could be dead wrong) who played the part.

Of course, there is a big difference in that Phoenix is known for his movie roles, and he was there promoting his movie, ostensibly. To me, though, this was a throwback to when late night television actually did more than just give 90 seconds to make small talk, introduce clip & go. Phoenix--if he was acting--played his part well. If he was not acting, then, too, thanks for giving us more than the glad-hand drivel.

I looked for the Polish Anti-Defamation bits on Carson, but came up short on my Google-fu. Instead, what I can offer is a link to another show in which the unpredictablity, the refusal to just play nice, made for an interesting evening of late night TV, with Oliver Reed & Shelley Winters, circa 1975.
posted by beelzbubba at 10:14 AM on September 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mr. Affleck said he thought the frequently hostile critics were distracted by a debate as to whether the film was real, “and the question of real or not wasn’t something I thought would exist after the film was seen in its entirety, credits and all,” he said. “It seems obvious” that it is not.

Let's focus on the real issue here: Casey Affleck ate a sandwich with no cheese.

Fake.


Fake sandwich or fake cheese? Chreese.

I've employed my share of dark humor in my time, but I can't fathom how someone who watched his brother die of a drug overdose could be so glib about it.

Where's the glibness?

Casey Affleck is only a celebrity because of Ben

Casey Affleck is a much (much) better actor than Ben. I thought that was common wisdom.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:19 AM on September 17, 2010


Fake sandwich or fake cheese?

Fake absence of cheese. In reality, the entire sandwich was made of nothing but cheese.
posted by The World Famous at 11:23 AM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Casey Affleck: Joaquin Phoenix doc 'no hoax' -- But director admits that audiences are likely to be confused"

lol
posted by mrgrimm at 11:23 AM on September 17, 2010


Carson and the guest never let on that it was staged--and iirc, it was the director John Frankenheimer (I could be dead wrong) who played the part.

If this is not true, it should be.
posted by brundlefly at 11:35 AM on September 17, 2010


Those of you in the middle of the MeFi/4Chan Venn diagram will no doubt appreciate this.
posted by Ian A.T. at 11:58 AM on September 17, 2010


Am I thinking of the same Casey Affleck that you are?

Yup.
posted by Vibrissae at 12:38 AM on September 18, 2010


"I’m Still Here" is the title of the Joaquin Phoenix documentary opening this weekend. "I’m Still Here" is also the title of another film – one Joaquin helped narrate along with several other movie stars in 2005. The rest of that movie’s title? "Real Diaries of Young People Who Lived During the Holocaust."

Yuck.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:47 AM on September 18, 2010


Yeah. Double yuck.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:47 AM on September 18, 2010


I didn't mean to say Casey Affleck wasn't a talented actor. I just meant that I've seen plenty of Ben Affleck movies, plenty of Joaquin Phoenix movies, 1 or 2 Casey Affleck movies and zero River Phoenix movies. I get that both younger siblings are talented, but when I hear "Casey Affleck" I still think "Ben Affleck's brother" whereas I only think "Joaquin Phoenix" when I hear his name.

Also, The Town was super good.
posted by papayaninja at 7:01 AM on September 18, 2010


How we finally got to the truth about Joaquin Phoenix's I'm Still Here - Rumours of Phoenix 'laughing his ass off' in Venice aroused our suspicions, while director Casey Affleck batted back the Guardian's questions to keep their movie scam secret for all of a week
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:15 AM on September 18, 2010


Letterman knew Joaquin Phoenix was faking
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:34 AM on September 18, 2010


Letterman knew Joaquin Phoenix was faking

Dude, everyone knew Phoenix was faking.

"In many ways you could say that Phoenix and Affleck are some of the most important artists of their age because they have shown us just how difficult it is to pull something off, especially if you have no talent for the type of creation you are attempting in the first place."

The Genius Of Joaquin Phoenix And Casey Affleck
posted by mrgrimm at 2:07 PM on September 18, 2010


Hrmm... As somebody who pays marginal attention to the world of celebrity gossip (well, kinda... I watch the TMZ tv show a few times a week when I remember it's on, wife reads some of the US-type mags), I had no idea that Joaquin was still doing the "I'm a crazy person" act. I can't recall ANY mentions of him after the David Letterman thing. Now, I'm sure they're out there, but I would've thought he would have tried much harder to get himself onto TMZ/ET/E or into the various mags. But maybe my marginal attention wasn't close enough, and he actually WAS out there more than I think.
posted by antifuse at 5:54 AM on September 21, 2010


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