Remember a couple years back when Joaquin Phoenix stopped cutting his hair, stopped shaving his face, retired from acting, and began his career as a hip-hop artist? How about that one time he went on David Letterman and made a fool of himself in front of millions of people?

If memory serves, Phoenix acted all kinds of crazy and word on the street was that he was “going insane” as part of a hoax-documentary directed by his brother-in-law, Casey Affleck, in the style of Borat or Bruno.

A plethora of bad jokes were made about facial hair and white rappers: “Haha, maybe Joaquin’s auditioning for the part of Hagrid in Harry Potter! Maybe he joined the Taliban! Maybe he’s the uni-bomber part deux!” Et cetera, et cetera. Eventually, everybody everywhere forgot about the whole ordeal and Phoenix reappeared, un-retired, looking somewhat like a normal human being again.

Fast-forward a year-and-a-half and the documentary—or mockumentary?—is finally being released. Based on what little can be derived from the brief trailer, the premise of I’m Still Here looks to be one hundred percent stupid: Once mega-famous actor Joaquin Phoenix can’t deal with the fact that he’s getting old and falling off the mainstream map – hence the title, I’m Still Here.

You can now check out the trailer for yourself:

My primary problem with this film? I never considered Joaquin Phoenix to be mega-famous. Not after Gladiator, not after Signs, not after Ladder 49, not even after Walk the Line. (Now, River Phoenix, on the other hand—that guy was famous!) Secondly, when I’m Still Here was in the process of filming, Joaquin was, at most, only slightly less famous than he was at his peak, which, as previously stated, was mere moderate fame.

The question remains—was this whole thing just a massive practical joke at the expense of the general viewing public, and me in particular? Or is this a deadly serious documentary about one man’s descent into madness as a result of not getting an Oscar for either Gladiator or Walk the Line?

Conventional wisdom seems to indicate that the former is the case. I can just picture Joaquin and Casey Affleck sitting around in their super-expensive chaise lounges, in their super-expensive mansions, sipping super-expensive margaritas whilst cackling their asses off about how funny and clever and tricky they were in all of this. Frankly, I’d be more inclined to give this movie the benefit of the doubt if it didn’t feel like they actually believed they’d pulled the wool over everybody’s eyes. Then again, who can argue with classic, philosophical lines like, “I’m a mountaintop water-drop*”? Not I, that’s for sure.

(*See trailer for clarification.)

I’m Still Here will…be here in limited release on September 10th.

Source: Magnolia Pictures