I want to take the opportunity to announce that this will be my last movie review. Yes, after watching Casey Affleck’s defecating documentary masterpiece, I’M STILL HERE, a film sure to make more than one critic’s best of list, I’ve decided to do something completely different with my life.
And to that end, I’m entering shark infested waters of politics. Having visited Alaska on a fishing trip when I was fourteen back in the 1980s, I intend to make the state whose motto is “North to the Future” my new home. This radical move will land me in Wasilla where I’ll throw my hat in the ring for mayor. To make myself more popular, I’ll engage in a platonic romance with Bristol Palin by perfecting my best tango with all the right moves. When highly inebriated, I’m sure to cut quite a rug.
And if the lesson of I’M STILL HERE is to be followed, a radical departure from one’s profession requires copious amounts of illegal substances. Hopefully, I’ll make friends with a local Wasilla dealer who has mixed up in his bathtub ample supplies of stimulating meth. Extensive recreational use of the damaging bathroom drug will inevitably lead to my breakdown including loss of most of my teeth. It will all be vividly captured by my brother who will make great use of his education as a minister to save my eternal soul from the searing hell fires of damnation. The entire sorry story will be streamed on various video platforms including an exclusive deal with YouTube for uncensored footage.
I’M STILL HERE is a blueprint for restarting one’s life. It helps if you begin this journey on top of your chosen field, rich, and emotionally tilted. That is how the film begins with Joaquin Phoenix as one of America’s top rated actors explaining to us in one of many unintelligible rants that he can’t act anymore and that his true passions lie in music. Phoenix will become JP the hip hop artist. And instead of busting his mad lyrics on the streets in ghetto style mixtape fashion, JP’s album will be produced by the best—if Dr. Dre ain’t available, P. Diddy will just have to do.
To find oneself we learn from I’M STILL HERE one has to lose oneself. And this involves JP turning his back on what got him where he is, and through a drugged out, sexed out phantasmagoria emerge as something new and philosophical—a hairy feces covered poet for a twisted YouTube generation. Is it all real? It really doesn’t matter.
At one point in the film, JP mumbles to Sean Combs that he’s got a recording studio in his home all outfitted with Pro Tools. The joke is on us. Combs isn’t buying it, and I’m not likely to move to Alaska. However, I’m still interested in learning the tango and my minister brother could probably help me find some much needed religion. Changing one’s life doesn’t require a descent into depravity. It just requires a commitment to change. And as I’M STILL HERE colorfully illustrates that commitment can be a self-destructive voyage discovering nothing.
NOTE: This review was my first reaction to I’M STILL HERE, a film billed as a documentary but being called a “mock-“umentary by most critics. I intend to explore this more with a more traditional review of the film on Friday.