Joaquin Phoenix Cleveland Steamer documentary gets full release

Senior Editor
07.15.10 20 Comments

Magnolia pictures has acquired distribution rights for Casey Affleck’s documentary, I’m Still Here: The Lost Year of Joaquin Phoenix, with a plan to release it September 10th, starting in limited release and going wide a week later.  Why is that awesome news?  Well, here’s what we know about it so far.  From a report of the film when it screened for buyers:

It’s far from the Joaquin Phoenix you’re used to seeing onscreen: snorting cocaine, ordering call girls, having oral sex with a publicist, treating his assistants abusively and rapping badly.  Several buyers said the film overflowed with Hollywood debauchery, including more male frontal nudity than you’d find in some gay porn films and a stomach-turning sequence in which someone feuding with Phoenix defecates on the actor while he’s asleep.

Well now you’re speaking my language.  Non-consensual Cleveland Steamers are my favorite kind of Cleveland Steamers.  There was also this story:

Phoenix was spotted pawing through racks of clothes at Red Balls on Melrose, where he finally grabbed a black velvet cape, black trousers and mesh top, ducked into a dressing room – and began belting rap songs. Emerging in his new outfit, he told the salesgirl he’d be wearing it home. Nervous, she asked: “What form of payment will you be using today, sir?”… then nearly jumped out of her skin when Phoenix banged down a wad of cash and yelled: “MONEY!”

That was the sales girl’s fault.  You see a guy in a cape and a mesh t-shirt, just assume he’s paying in cash, trust me.  In another funny twist (well, maybe not funny “ha ha”), Magnolia is the same company that put out Two Lovers, the movie Phoenix was supposed to be promoting when he was sticking his gum under Letterman’s desk, for which he took heavy criticism.

Said Ebert in a column at the time:

I watched him on Letterman and was appalled. […] He was on the show to promote his new film.  All he did was ensure that his bizarre behavior was referred to in most of the reviews of the film. He had no right to do that. Independent, original films have a hard enough battle without their stars putting on psycho shows. He should have stayed at home.

Apparently, Magnolia pictures didn’t mind.  I’m not surprised they weren’t mad.  Say what you will about Joaquer Texas Rapper not promoting the film, at least he wasn’t filming zesty taco recipes and telling people to buy 75 dollar cake knives like his co-star.

[Magnolia chief Eamonn] Bowles said, “No matter what I thought coming in, I came out feeling this was a pretty amazing piece of work, jaw dropping but dimensional,” [uh, what? -Ed.] Bowles told me. “It is going to get a lot of attention, but it is not some cheap stunt where they said, ‘Let’s do some wild stuff and film it.’ It is extreme behavior but really good filmmaking as well. Frankly, some of the behavior is very extreme. But it is in the context of the insanity of being in Joaquin’s life for that period of time. It is a unique piece of work that is going to surprise people in different ways.” [Deadline]

I’ll do the Hollywood math here and assume that by “extreme” he means parkour.  So that should be pretty righteous.

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