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Pasadena’s Movie Going Treasure A+: Movie Choice D- (“I’m Still Here”)

3 Oct

Pasadena is one of those cities that has it all, particularly when it comes to entertainment, it has among the best movie theaters in all of Los Angeles.   It boasts boutique movie houses that show mainstream films, as well as specialized ones. It also has two art houses that show rare films that once could only be seen in the west end of town in the old days.   The Laemmle Theater Group, perhaps the oldest and only surviving family-run cinema house in Los Angeles, is one of those cinema halls that has been in Pasadena for the longest time and where rare independent and foreign films are exhibited. So, while in a night out in the town, why not check out a film at one of these cinemas?

Joaquin Phoenix’s “I’m Still Here” Reality Show Stunt

I’m Still Here is one of the most recent films that released exclusively in selected theaters nationwide in early September, including the Laemmle Theaters.  The film is a mockumentary directed by Casey Affleck–Ben Affleck’s little brother.  The film stars Joaquin Phoenix–Casey’s brother-in-law and his best friend–and follows the life of Phoenix, from the moment he announced retiring from show business after being of an acting ensemble benefit play in the Bay area, to the actors pursuit to becoming a hip hop artist.  The film is a reality show that follows him during that very moment in 2008 to the current year.

The actor decision to leave Hollywood shocked everyone and many didn’t believe it, as the whole thing looked like a hoax.  A hoax indeed was as it turns out. The fact that the events of the film had been deliberately staged was not disclosed until after the film had been released.  The actor was so entrenched into his character that he looked like a cavemen junkie, as throughout the film and publicly humiliated on the David Letterman show as we all remember.   During the show, Phoenix seemed to be in another planet altogether; giving shorts incoherent answers, not remember anything about the film he was promoting–Two Lovers–nor the name of actors he share the screen with, and of course chewing gun and taking it out of his mouth and sticking it under Letterman’s desk. How are we to sympathize with this guy?

The film goes on tediously showing Phoenix at his lowest: doing drugs, having sex with prostitutes, getting into a fight in a club in Miami, falling from stage in Las Vegas, witnessing Antony Langdon–Spacehog guitarist and musician–defecate on his face while asleep as a result of a feud between them that loses Joaquin’s trust.   The scene where he finally meets rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs in his studio, he was able to be there on time for their meeting and bring his demo CD for “Diddy” to listen and at after listening to the third and last song Phoenix says: “So when do we record?” Then “Diddy” looks a him with a look of pity and tells him: “The first two songs were good, I liked them, but the last one brought it downhill…you can’t record with me, not under my name”.   This scene was one of those few moments in the film where one feels for the guy.

The film is only one hour and six minutes, but it dragged on forever, and it followed the typical hollywood formula: it ended at the same place where it began.   One is suppose to sympathize with the guy and his trials and tribulations, but the film does very little to do that.   Instead we are reminded that Joaquin is ‘still here’, as the title says: “I Am Still Here”.  He duped us all.

For everyone’s amusement, here are a couple of images of Joaquin’s appearances at the Dave Letterman show before and after the stunt…it really makes one vomit at the snobbery of calling a reality stunt ART!

If really bored and have nothing else to do than going to a movie, be sure to read up on this film before being stuck in a theater watching what happened to the once promising Joaquin Phoenix; instead, check out the theater marquee for other film options and save the trouble.  The film gets one star out of four, and that’s being quite generous!

Luckily the Laemmle Playhouse is a multiplex cinema that can offer movie lovers many other good options.

This movie is more about the local cinema treasures we have in Pasadena, more than about this film that just happened to be playing at the given date and time. For more information on what’s playing at Pasadena Laemmle Playhouse theaters go to the Laemmle.