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3.2 out of 5 stars
I'm Still Here [DVD]
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 14 April 2011
This film is either a masterpiece which skewers the vacuity of modern celebrity or it's a shallow vanity-project made by people with too much money and time on their hands. But which is it? Blowed if I know.

Spotting the influences of this film is as entertaining, if not more, than the film itself. There's `Borat', `Spinal Tap', `Don't Look Back' and even, dare I say, `The King of Comedy' in there. It's not as good as any of those films, but then again it could be a masterpiece - or is it rubbish? Blowed if I know.

Joaquin Phoenix plays Joaquin Phoenix, an Oscar-nominated, successful actor who decides he doesn't want to be a successful actor any more; instead he wants to look like the fat one out of the Blues Brothers crossed with a member of ZZ Top, and pursue his career through the medium of `rap'. His brother-in-law, (Casey Affleck), played by Casey Affleck, decides to make a film about it.

Who's playing it for real and who's faking? Well, I don't think the expression of polite horror on the face of Mos Def, when JP tells him he wants to be a rapper, can possibly be faked. Then again one certainly hopes that Edward James Olmos is faking it, or else he is an eejit of considerable magnitude. The same goes for Puff Daddy Diddy Coombs, or whatever his name is, I can't imagine he would make himself look such a fool unless it was deliberate?

The film is basically JP hanging out with his waster `friends', talking rubbish, appearing on talk-shows, and attempting to get his rap career off the ground. This culminates in an hilarious scene in a Miami nightclub where he `performs' in front of a somewhat sceptical audience, before attempting to assault a heckler.

Even more horrible than JP's ridiculous, self-indulgent life-style, is the antics of the parasites who swarm around celebrities, and their hideously inflated sense of their own importance. The paparazzi boo JP when he refuses to pose for their silly pictures; a, (presumably genuine?), twerp, from a `fan-site', belittles his career, without a trace of irony or self-consciousness, as 'unimportant' and 'boring'. The mind positively boggles.

I've only given it three stars because it isn't that entertaining; the sub-plot about his `friend' Anton betraying his trust is all a bit dull. I think you should see it though and make your own mind up about it. Maybe it is a great film - but then again it could be junk. Blowed if I know.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 1 May 2011
In 2009, the movie world was confused and in uproar as Joaquin Phoenix announced that he would be retiring from acting, and that 2008's Two Lovers would be his final appearance on screen. To add a touch more of the bizarre into the mix, Phoenix would also be pursuing his apparent lifelong dream of being a rapper. His good friend and brother-in-law Casey Affleck would film everything, and as the pounds piled onto Phoenix, and his beard grew even more ridiculous, it gradually became obvious that this in fact was a big joke.

So the film itself follows Phoenix from his initial announcement of retirement from acting, to his attempts at getting a meeting with rap mogul P. Diddy, in order for him to produce his album. In between this, we see him self-destruct as the realisation hits him that he is indeed a crap rapper, and that everyone considers him a joke, from celebrities (Ben Stiller, David Letterman), to his best friend who ends up betraying him. We also see Phoenix sniffing cocaine from the breast of a stripper, fall of a stage whilst doing a rap gig, and have someone s**t on his face while he sleeps.

The big question is - what's the point? Well, it's quite an intelligent commentary of the nature of celebrity, and how people can buy into anything that they're told. Phoenix and Affleck apparently came up with the idea when they discovered that audiences didn't realise that 'reality' shows were scripted. The other important question is - does it work? Given Phoenix's heroic commitment to the film and the physical and mental strain he must have endured for the cause, you would hope so. Disappointingly, the answer is a resounding no.

Don't get me wrong, moments of this film I found bordered on absolute genius. Joaquin Phoenix's performance, for example, is simply breathtaking. You have to admire the way he completely gives himself over to the performance. Certain scenes where he is ranting about the way he is being perceived in the press, or he bounces around excitedly snorting cocaine awaiting for the arrival of prostitutes, you would be forgiven for not thinking twice that this was indeed reality.

But I think that is the main problem - it is too convincing. While other mockumentary's such as This Is Spinal Tap or Borat, are extremely funny while always maintaining the edge of realism, this film is not funny. This of course would be fine if the film was dramatic or absorbing, but it's neither of these things. It is at times very annoying, and often quite uncomfortable viewing, and the film has trouble maintaining a straight narrative.

After thinking about the film afterwards, I can't deny that its initial idea is interesting. Before the film, I could take or leave Joaquin Phoenix as an actor. He had never really overly impressed me with any of his performances, and I felt his most celebrated performance as Johnny Cash in Walk The Line, was only a great impression, not a great performance. But after this film, I'll be intrigued to see where his career turns to next, and I'll probably watch anything he does. It is disappointing, if not unsurprising, that he was overlooked an Oscar nomination for his performance here.

[...]
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2012
'I'm Still Here', starring Oscar-nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix as himself is to some a load of crap. To others, and let the hecklers be dismissive, who think otherwise it is a witty statement about the celebrity-obsessed world we live in: fact. Viewers didn't have a clue what to think when Joaquin announced his retirement from the world of acting on the David Letterman show, in order to pursue a career in hip hop. Surely even those in favour of the film could never have guessed what this intelligent Hollywood star was up to beforehand. What potentially has destroyed this actor's career, is actually perhaps his greatest triumph and his only renowned experiment. Joaquin wanted to see what the response would be if he reinvented himself into what mainstream society would perceive to be avant garde. Would the legions of fans and admirers, who fall over themselves when they see celebrities, most of the time simply because they are celebrities, still follow him with loyalty no matter how crazy and obnoxious he became? What Phoenix was trying to unearth was how far the obsession of celebrity can go. Is there a particular formula or set of characteristics that spawns this mass-following of people in the public eye? Or on the other hand, do people continue to worship people, who perhaps have no talent other than their own self-indulgence, simply because there is a mob of paparazzi stalking them? Joaquin made himself the opposite of the handsome A-Lister he is known as, by growing a forest of hippie hair and delving into the disgusting habits that are usually attached to someone who is generally outcast by society for being a 'pig'.

But the cameras didn't stop flashing did they? The press and the masses continued to scrutinise him, only with less adoration and more mockery. Phoenix kept strong, unless he was viewing the hateful comments made about him by a bunch of nobodies who thought they had balls, just because they have over 100 likes on YouTube. Phoenix was making a perceptive observation on how we as society are fascinated with the self-destruction of other people's lives. It's a new form of entertainment. Watching supermodels starving themselves and actors turning to debauchery for solace, seems to have become the norm and now we aspire to be like them. Nowadays it is less about talent and more about lifestyle. Phoenix made this film with his brother-in-law Casey Affleck, in order to spin a calamitous microcosm within the calamity we already live in, so that we can understand what we're doing to ourselves.

Some could argue that Phoenix is self-indulgent. Aren't all actors? What many of the people who have seen or claim to have 'seen' the film with bigoted brains seem to not be able to realise, is that Phoenix is an actor playing the part of a failed stereotype. As an actor, it was Phoenix's job to make us all think he'd gone barking mad, it's what he does. It's all about getting into the character and that's what he did. Which is why I personally think, we should switch the final word in Oscar-nominated to winner, simply for this film. Perhaps the reason why this film has been so cruelly underrated, is that the media doesn't want us to see our own stupidity, so that they can continue to feed us rubbish. Phoenix is ahead of his time and this film is ahead of its time. We as society just need to catch up, because he's still waiting, calling back at us with the words: 'I'm Still Here'
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on 22 September 2014
I am not a big watcher of celebrity shows or 'lifestyles of the rich and famous', so I initially took this as a genuine documentary. I was not really aware of who Joaquin Phoenix was, but admired his acting and loved his role in 'The Master'. This portrayal of an unhinged man on the edge of oblivion simply made me think: 'I see why he got that part'. I was quite unnerved by what I was watching, to be honest, as I had not taken much interest in who Joaquin really was. I had got a sense that he was a bit of a rebel, and so assumed, in my naivete, that this was the real him - disturbing as it was. And that's one thing I liked about this - the irony of showing a person deliberate so much over his own self-obsession in this depiction which blurred the boundaries between reality and script. I love Larry Sanders for that breakdown between performance and 'real world'. Throwing it all together makes the meaning of the acting generally deeper. Joaquin Phoenix was actually being self-deprecating and self-indulgent at the same time. Quite brave, in a way, to put out a public impression of abandonment while actually pursuing a very deliberate personal, experimental concept. Not a totally original idea, but I love this kind of approach in general, and this spoke on many levels - how so many mid-30s guys suddenly are convinced they can rap just because they always wanted to, and about egotism in general and how the public see that and respond.

I was so naive to Joaquin's real-world situation, that even when they were talking to the 'Extra' reporter in the special features about the whole hoax, I was wondering if they were only saying this to cover up a genuinely bad phase of Joaquin's life, so I found the effect of the film very intriguing. Sometimes disconcerting, sometimes comic genius, but I was definitely sucker-punched.
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on 4 February 2012
This film is sort of brilliant: inspired, seminal and daring. `I'm Still Here' tells the tale of an actor's existential dilemma as he reaches the conclusion that his life is in effect worthless. As the narcissistic dream of `meaning' is shattered, he intends to find a new path, something with more worth and more honesty.

However, the film doesn't document a mere fictional character's midlife crisis, it instead explores the psyche of renowned thespian Joaquin Phoenix. This adds another element to the film, which is already incredibly layered. Not only is this a documentary of the downfall of a star, it's also, at it's core a performance art piece.

In making this film, Phoenix broke the fourth wall in a way that has never been done before. He takes his performance off the screen and into celebrity culture, in effect feeding the media's insatiable desire for scandal, debauchery and schadenfreude. This could be considered the first `post-empire' film, if we use Bret Easton Ellis' terminology, which refers to the stripping away of the veneer of stardom and exploring the dank recesses of `true' celebrity; confronting the human element of a star and casting off the deification PR and marketing have us believe these people deserve.

In Phoenix' own words, the mockumentary is a study of how society, the media, and the celebrity interact. How we never see the full picture. How even reality TV doesn't show us reality, but instead either a scripted mock up, or an edited fabrication. The film bravely tackles the mass-manipulation and the hyperbolic and superficial exploration of celebrity by the media, which is then presented in a moral tale of what to avoid in life; the film portrays how it's all just fiction presented as fact, which is especially fitting considering the debate Affleck and Phoenix raised over the film: the `is it a hoax, isn't it a hoax' debate (although this causes some problems for the narrative of the film later on).

Phoenix should be commended and applauded for not just the amazing performance he gives here, but for the enormous risk he took in making this. This effectively nose-dived his reputation and wavered his career. That is the mark of a performance artist- someone willing to give it all up to make art. I have an enormous respect for him, and feel saddened by the poor reaction the film received.

The critical reaction itself also adds another element to the film. Even renowned critic Roger Ebert reviewed the film as if it were a true-to-life documentary, showing just how easily interpretation of art, or of reality can be so easily misguided. Phoenix, much like Banksy in his documentary, brings into question the whole concept of what art is, what makes art `good' art and whether we should trust the people that tell us what it is and whether it's good.

The problem is, though, unfortunately the film itself is quite boring and often tangential. There are often long, lingering shots of Phoenix deep in contemplative thought, which are often unnecessary and set a very slow pace for what's to follow. And the running time of an hour and forty minutes isn't particularly helpful in remedying this issue. It also veers off-track too, getting a little too caught up in confronting the rumours of the movie being a hoax in the first place, which isn't really exploring the issue. Although, in a way, It almost becomes self-referential; an attempt to keep the realistic element alive. Unfortunately it begins to bog the movie down.

I think in some generations to come this film will be remembered and reflected upon as an example of a movement that changed popular culture; a beginning of the end of celebrity gloss. `Post-empire' as Ellis calls it; post post-modern, as they may call it.

In the end, however, this whole experiment works better as performance art than it does as a film.
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I'm still here is a documentary/mockumentary on Joaquin Phoenix's (Walk the Line) retirement from acting, filmed by his brother-in-law, Casey Affleck. Joaquin plays himself and is purportedly making this movie to announce his retirement from acting to concentrate on his hip-hop career. The documentary follows Joaquin Phoenix around as he makes public appearances, promotes the last of his films and publicly announces his move into music.

Well, where to begin? Long before the final cut of this film was made, the media-world at large was documenting Joaquin Phoenix's irrational behaviour, his dishevelled appearance and general flippancy towards paparazi. I was even concerned for the man after I heard about his stage-fall and consequent facial scarring, as a result - if you read the news stories, or follow celebrity gossip at all, you have already seen and heard everything this film is going to show you.

After seeing the characters Phoenix is capable of acting, it's really sad to see it come down to this; he makes some flimsy comments about the reasons he wants to stop acting, blaming it on the whole experience being derivative and he is just a puppet who is told to "stand here and say this and that" but the end result is that this is the best part of two hours watching Joaquin Phoenix smoke, drink and devolve into a hobo, except for the fact that unlike a hobo, he gets fatter.

If I were a film-maker I would never put my name on this piece of dross, the entire thing is filmed on handheld cameras and is shaky, grainy, blurry, the sound is resonant in the microphone casing - it's just a mess, top-to-bottom. Many of the scenes, Joaquin isn't even looking at the camera but the lens dilligently follows him around as he paces and smokes in his ubiquitous blue hoody. Affleck and Phoenix seem to be under the impression that this is edgy and sells, but it doesn't - it just reeks of lack of effort.

In conclusion, I apologise if I have seethed here but this film is extremely poor and when you are aware of the talent that Joaquin Phoenix possesses it is just sad to see him throw it all away because it's not creative, what's more insulting is that despite Phoenix's insistence he doesn't want to make anymore money, they are selling I'm Still Here as a DVD release, if he really meant it then he would be stood on the street handing it out. What's sadder still, is that he is not scheduled to appear in any films at all in the future (either pre-production or rumoured!!) and if his retirement really is the truth, then what a way to go out, making the world remember you for the worst and not the stellar performances of Gladiator &Walk the Line.

If you rarely listen to reviews, make an exception for this one, I implore you: don't waste your money, look elsewhere for some entertainment!!
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on 31 July 2013
Maybe i am a bit bias writting this but i am huge joaquin phoenix fan, and when i heard all about the retiring from acting and the new proffession rapping i'l be honsest it wasnt what a fan wanted to here and i held off a long time befire i watched this documentry/mock film as i wasnt sure what i was going to make of it, but i can say i am glad i watched it, now having said that there were parts that were just bad even if the whole think was just act example Joaquin's friend jumping on the bed to do god knows what on him and the call girls wasnt the brightest moment in film. Now for the good parts Joaquin has done these amazing films and maybe people see him as a very dark private person also he doesnt do that many interviews unlike say Tom cruise or johnny depp but in this film he was very funny the parts where he's running round after P.diddy had me in stiches i think there is funny side to this man and i gave the extra fourth star due to the fact he did this risky film and i thought after watching how many actors would do something like this sorta take the mick out of themselves the whole media/public laughing at him i have to give him respect and after making this film he got back to work and did the best film of 2012 The master one of best actors we have out there today.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2011
Ever since I first saw Joaquin Phoenix's Letterman interview on Youtube I have been so intrigued to find out what the hell is going on.

Then I found out they were making a film of it, with Casey Afleck directing and my intrigue grew even more.

Then I found out that it was all a 'hoax', but what grabbed me was that Joaquin Phoenix (who I am a huge fan of anyway) actually went and pretended he wanted to be a rapper, acting to the whole world for a very long period of time, which I think is incredible, and when you watch the movie you can see how far he went.

Some critics have argued that he went too far but I think this is one of coolest things anyone has ever done.

Amazing acting, and the entire thing is just hilarious.

And point taken, point made.

Joaquin you are the man.
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on 21 April 2012
Joaquin Phoenix made the world believe for more than a year he had a sudden meltdown that obliged him to reconsider his life as a movie actor and to pursue a new career as a rap singer. A brilliant hoax with plenty of celebrity friends (Ben Stiller, David Letterman, Diddy...) who were not 100% aware to be involved in something odd with heavy plot or simply a nasty joke. Although Phoenix's performance is absolutely great and believable, putting at risk is own artistic reputation, Affleck' s directing effort is nothing special.
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on 24 April 2015
The DVD arrived soon,it was a good choice for the price and the quality,besides I liked this movie very much,for beyond the work of a brilliant actor and artist it tells,for those who can understand it,the enourmous path of a warrior who tranformed the diabolic suffering from losing his young brother in a heroic daily battle against the world. Beautiful,as hilarious as tragic. The sellers were polite and give me also an extra shopping voucher. Forgive my lateness to review it and thank you.
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