"I'm Still Here" director Casey Affleck confirmed
to The New York Times yesterday that his new documentary, purportedly
the chronicle of actor Joaquin Phoenix's retirement from acting and
descent into beardedness, is all a hoax. That apparently includes
Phoenix's infamous 2009 David Letterman interview where the actor
appeared to be loopy, disheveled, and generally behaving as if he were
the star of a mockumentary. "It's a terrific performance, it's the
performance of his career," Affleck told the Times' Michael Cieply.
Maybe so, but more than a few people saw it coming.
- Wait, People Actually Believed This? Affleck's announcement--a year after Phoenix's initial Letterman appearance and a week after the film's release--arrived too late to generate any buzzz, must less shock, contends Entertainment Weekly's Josh Rottenberg. "We finally have our answer, and, after all the build-up, it’s frankly kind of anticlimactic," writes Rottenberg. "For the record, we told you the same thing way back in 2009, when sources told EW that Phoenix’s antics were 'a put-on.'"
- Hardly Shocking That Affleck felt the need to admit this is vaguely depressing, writes Deadline's Mike Fleming. "This revelation," notes Fleming, "is about as shocking as when Vince McMahon revealed that professional wrestling bouts were prearranged."
- Admission of Defeat The Los Angeles Times' Patrick Goldstein believes revealing the hoax only makes Affleck, Phoenix, and their film look more anemic. "Affleck had clearly hoped to trick as many people as possible, at least in the sense of making audiences wonder if what they were seeing was real or staged--or some strange new hybrid art form," Goldstein says of the film's mission. Because nobody was fooled, the pictured "failed in the most obvious way."
- Further Revelations The New York Times' Dave Itzkoff wonders what Affleck will unmask as a hoax next. Itzkoff's suggestions for future Affleck revelations include "ventriloquism...the ability of 'Mad Men' to make it appear that events from the 1960s are occurring on your television set in 2010...your grandparents’ power to painlessly detach your nose from and reattach it to your face [and] the existence, posited by a popular breakfast cereal, of a naturally occurring pink fruit known as the Frankenberry."