It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
A mind is a terrible thing to waste. The tragedy of Joaquin Phoenix's self-destruction has been made into "I'm Still Here," a sad and painful documentary that serves little useful purpose other than to pound another nail into the coffin. Here is a gifted actor who apparently by his own decision has brought desolation upon his head. He was serious when he said he would never act again. He was serious when he announced a career as a hip hop artist. He wasn't goofing when he was on the Letterman show. He was flying into pieces.
For reasons which are unclear and sidestepped, this process was documented on video by the actor Casey Affleck, who is married to Joaquin's sister Summer. It's not well-done technically -- the image and sound are bad -- but it has the advantage of access to private and tormented moments. After Phoenix imploded during a famous appearance on Letterman, we see him leaving a limousine in Central Park, crawling up an embankment into some shrubbery, and screaming that he has destroyed his life, his music sucks, he will never be able to act again, and "I'm totally f**cked!"
All of this is true. At least we must assume it is. If this film turns out to still be part of an elaborate hoax, I'm going to be seriously pissed. Actually, there are subtle signs it might be. The scene in Central Park: Is it a little too perfect dramatically? The scenes of cocaine sniffing, the nude parties including Joaquin's assistant Antony Langdon and two hookers: Were they really possible with a director, cinematographer and sound man in the room? Would Casey Affleck release this devastating film with the acquiescence of his wife?
Apparently so. It exists, it was released, I've seen it, and Joaquin Phoenix, as the title assures is, is still there. One doubts he will be walking the red carpet if the film has a premiere. It documents a train wreck. A luxury train. One carrying Phoenix, his several personal assistants, his agent, his publicist, and apparently not one single friend who isn't on salary. A train that flies off the tracks and tumbles into the abyss.