Posted on Thursday, May 6th, 2010 by Russ Fischer
This isn’t quite like nabbing some video of the sasquatch walking across your back yard, but it might be close. Over a year ago, Joaquin Phoenix announced his retirement from acting, grew a magnificent beard, started rapping, and fell off a stage. In his few public appearances (including one on Letterman) Phoenix insisted that the move from actor to MC was a legit, honest career change.
But no one really believed it, and soon it was apparent that he was the subject of some odd film being made by his brother-in-law, Casey Affleck. Now the film is finished, or at least in presentable form, and has been screened for buyers.
According to Deadline, the film was screened privately for “a handful of buyers,” among whom was Harvey Weinstein. It’s all super-secret and hush-hush, so we don’t know what the movie is like, or to what extent it really tries to portray Phoenix ‘actually’ melting down and becoming a really terrible rapper.
(Did Exit Through the Gift Shop kinda beat Affleck and Phoenix to the punch this year? I wouldn’t want to release any mockumentary within a mile of Banksy’s movie.)
So what is this thing really about? As an actor I quite like Joaquin Phoenix (definitely see Two Lovers, his last movie before ‘quitting’) but there wasn’t really much to his MC act. A handful of public appearances, a couple of statements, Ben Stiller’s joke about him, and that was it. No one was fooled for more than half a second, and so a film that tries to present his vocation change as something that really happened won’t go very far.
But there are other subjects that it could do well, such as the nature and difficulty of satire, or the potential to stage an act like this in the age of the internet and instant connectivity. I want to believe that both of these guys had more of a plan than ‘let’s screw around and film it,’ so I’m ready to hear and see more.