Good Morning Hollywood, September 8: Drugs and Lies

Joaquin Phoenix leaves ‘em guessing while George Clooney tries some misdirection

In this morning’s roundup of movie news ‘n’ notes from around the web, Joaquin Phoenix leaves ‘em guessing while George Clooney tries some misdirection.

Richard Corliss reports from Venice on “I’m Still Here,” Casey Affleck’s documentary (or is it?) about the retirement and reinvention of a very troubled Joaquin Phoenix, who says he’ll no longer act and then tries to become a rap star despite a significant lack of talent. Corliss can’t answer the big question about the film: is it a true picture of an out-of-control, self-destructive artist, or an elaborate piece of performance art? “True or false? It almost doesn’t matter,” he says – correctly, I’d say. If it’s a hoax, “I’m Still Here” is very funny, very sad and very revealing; if it’s a true doc, it’s just as sad and just as revealing, but maybe not quite so funny. Either way, it’s fascinating. (Time)

Joaquin PhoenixRoger Ebert, meanwhile, watches “I’m Still Here” and comes away with a different question: was Phoenix simply on drugs every moment that Affleck documented, or is he also mentally ill? To Roger, the answer is unclear, and the movie “serves little useful purpose other than to pound another nail into the coffin.” But he gives it three stars anyway. (

If you saw “The American” last weekend, you were bamboozled. So says Patrick Goldstein, who didn’t like the languid Anton Corbijn movie and thinks that Focus Features tried to fool everybody by marketing it as a George Clooney action flick. “[T]here's more action in the film's trailer than in virtually the entire movie,” he says – the operative word being virtually, since all the action in the trailer is also in the movie, along with some other shooting and punching as well. (The Big Picture

Kris Tapley, on the other hand, liked “The American,” and he wonders if Goldstein isn’t being a bit unreasonable. “[I]s it such a crime to protect one’s investment?” he asks. “Do marketers not have a responsibility?” Well, no, it isn’t. And yes, they do. And in showbiz, sometimes that responsibility involves a bit of, shall we say, misdirection,as Patrick Goldstein knows full well. (In Contention)

You can add William Peter Blatty to the long list of people who think there’s something fishy about studio accounting practices. The author of “The Exorcist,” says Matthew Belloni, has filed a complaint for “breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, accounting and other causes of action,” alleging that he’s a co-owner of the 1973 film and as such is entitled “to be treated differently from profit participants who merely share in revenues.” Nobody in Hollywood will be surprised to learn that Belloni’s piece ends with the info that Warner Bros. has declined to comment. (The Hollywood Reporter