Random Factoid #509

19 12 2010

We’re getting to that point of 2010 where we can look back in retrospect at things.  Most critics are issuing their top 10 lists (or call them “The Social Network” and others given the unanimity this year), but Cinematical made a very different list this week: the most boring titles of 2010.

I had never really thought of it, but a good title really does make a difference.  If “Inception” had been called “The World of the Dream,” I probably wouldn’t be nearly as excited about it as I was.  If “How to Train Your Dragon” had been called “Vikings and Dragons,” I would have easily written it off.  Those are some of the best of 2010, but what about the worst?

The bland and the irrelevant usually make the worst titles.  For example, as much as I loved “Michael Clayton,” that title told me NOTHING about the movie.  As for 2010, we had plenty of culprits: “I’m Still Here,” the Joaquin Phoenix documentary, would have sent up no flags for the average moviegoer.  “The Lost Year of Joaquin Phoenix” would have been a significantly better choice.  “The Bounty Hunter” sounds like an action movie, not a revolting Jennifer Aniston rom-com.  “The Joneses” is a family name, not the title for a very perceptive social commentary.

There are many more of 2010 (see a much more complete list at the link above), but that’s just a sampling of how a movie’s title can have a significant impact on moviewatching.  Did it make a difference for you at all this year?





REVIEW: I’m Still Here

22 11 2010

If Joaquin Phoenix managed to have me pretty fully convinced that he was serious when he did the “Hasidic meth dealer” act for over a year, does that make him a good actor … or me a gullible onlooker?  In a way, that’s the sort of question “I’m Still Here” wants you to answer, although there was enough media coverage surrounding Joaquin Phoenix’s committed transformation that a movie just seems unnecessary.

Directed by Phoenix’s brother-in-law, Casey Affleck, the movie is a piece of performance art by Joaquin Phoenix masquerading as a documentary.  He makes some interesting observations on the nature of the star, which detract from the actor.  The reasoning is that by excising the actor and becoming a rapper (something he is incredibly ill-suited to tackle) we will realize that we love the celebrity more than we love their talent.

And, in a sense, he’s right.  As we observe his year of withdrawal, we see the media circus in full tilt, quick as ever to judge.  They mistake the performance for the personality, much as I and many others did.  The documentary flirts with this blurry line, and there are many times when it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.  This problem isn’t made any easier by Affleck’s unstable direction, but it makes for a perplexing experience that virtually requires the viewer to take on the role of a detective exploring Phoenix’s mind.

This artistic experiment Phoenix puts on for a year is never dull or boring.  The best word to describe it is bizarre, and all of his strange fetishes for strippers, drugs, and cruel pranks make him out to be either one sick actor or deranged man.  Either way, “I’m Still Here” doesn’t endear us to any side of Joaquin Phoenix.  It’s an uncomfortable watch at times as he borders on insanity, even knowing that it’s all a big hoax.

What I think Phoenix doesn’t realize is that this offbeat performance has forever enshrined him in our minds as a kooky celebrity, not an actor, in effect giving an averse reaction.  Whatever the case, I’ll certainly never see “Walk the Line” in the same way as before.  B-





Random Factoid #415

16 09 2010

Really, Casey Affleck?  Way to ruin my fun.

I was so excited to see “I’m Still Here,” the documentary on Joaquin Phoenix’s strange year of isolation, because I wanted to decide for myself if it was real or a joke and offer an opinion as to why I thought what I did.  But now, I have been robbed of that chance as director Casey Affleck has decided to spill the beans that it actually was a mockumentary, a piece of performance art not meant to be taken literally.

“I’m Still Here” opens today in Houston, and now I really have no desire to spend $10 to see it.  Knowing that it’s a big joke ruins the fun, and it’s really no different than unleashing a spoiler (which I HATE, see Random Factoid #276).  The movie’s secret is out of the bag, and everything has changed.

Has anyone else had their moviegoing desires changed by knowing certain details about a film?