Monday 7/21/2014 July, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin
No one has ever questioned Joaquin Phoenix’s ability as an actor. From his early role in the classic Gladiator, to his portrayal of Johnny Cash in Walk the Line, to his most recent role in Spike Jonze’s fabulous Her, this thrice Oscar nominated actor is always brooding and impressive. However in 2010 many did question his sanity when he decided to retire from acting to become a very average hip hop artist, a venture captured in the documentary I’m Still Here. Turns out Phoenix was just acting, although this time, his performance left a bitter taste in some critic’s mouths. See what all the fuss was about on Wednesday in Rialto New Wave. Here are my picks for the week.
I’m Still Here
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Antony Langdon & Carey Perloff
Directed by: Casey Affleck
Screening: Rialto New Wave, Wednesday 23rd July, 8.30pm
So, as mentioned, in 2008 Joaquin Phoenix announced he was retiring from acting to pursue a career as a hip-hop artist. His brother-in-law, actor Casey Affleck, kindly offered to film Phoenix’s career transition that involved convincing Sean "Diddy" Combs to produce his debut album and behavior that would lead most people to believe the guy had completely lost the plot. Critics and audiences alike didn’t quite know how to react to this film when it was released in 2010, especially if it was in fact real. If Phoenix really was unraveling in this “portrait of an artist at a crossroads” it was deemed insensitive to be filming it. It wasn’t long before Affleck admitted his directing debut was fake – making I’m Still Here one of the most polarizing mockumentaries ever made.
In the House
Starring: Kristen Scott Thomas, Fabrice Luchini & Emmanuelle Seigner
Directed by: Francois Ozon
Screening: Rialto Selection, Monday 21st July, 8.30pm
Director Francois Ozon has come along way from his days as the enfant terrible of the French film industry in the 1990s, directing almost a film a year since his feature film debut in 1997. Ozon is widely known for Under the Sand starring Charlotte Rampling, the ensemble piece 8 Women, the kitsch comedy Potiche and recently In the House which won the International Critics' Award at the Toronto Film Festival in 2012. Fabrice Luchini stars as Germain, a literature teacher who becomes infatuated with the work of one of his talented 16-year old students who writes about his sexual relationship with his best friend’s mother. Part black comedy, part social satire and part psychological drama In the House is a slightly uneven comedy but an entertaining romp all the same.
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Hamish Linklater, Bill Pulman and Debra Winger
Directed by: Daryl Wein
Screening: Rialto Selection, Saturday 19th July, 8.30pm
Another comedy about a young woman finding her feet in New York City, in Lola Versus Gerwig plays a 29 year old PHD student studying ‘silence in poetry’, who is ditched by her artist fiancée just before their wedding. She moves out of their lovely apartment and back into her tiny sublet, and flutters between friends and potential dates, caught up in her misery, until it all comes crashing down. Lola Versus is filled with characters with too much time to think about themselves, but Gerwig is always watchable, spitting out great lines like, “I’m slutty, but I’m a good person!”