This Can’t Be Good for Anyone

See? He can't possibly be seriousHave you been following the Joaquin Phoenix thing?

Last year, Phoenix announced that he was putting acting behind him, in order to focus on his music. This sounded like a set-up for an elaborate joke — and seemed to tilt decisively in that direction when it was revealed that actor Casey Affleck was following him around, shooting a documentary about his career transition — but now that Phoenix is back in front of journalists, doing the press tour for “Two Lovers”, he’s taking great pains to remind us that it’s all real.

I’m with director James Gray on this one; it may be real, but it’s awfully disappointing. Phoenix may be a temperamental sort — maybe not on Christian Bale’s level, but I once saw him punch out his own standee because someone had Photoshopped the staunch vegan into a leather jacket — but he can be an electrifying actor, and his performance in “Two Lovers” is up there with his best work.

Trouble is, thanks to Phoenix’ career change, no one’s paying any attention to the film. His decision to drop out of acting has effectively hijacked the press junket the same way Heath Ledger’s death turned the “Dark Knight” junket into a traveling memorial to the actor, which was frustrating as all hell for those of us who wanted to ask questions about the rest of the movie.

I mean, I was blown away by “Two Lovers” at Cannes, and would happily do anything I could to get people to see it here, but they’d have to release the damn thing first — and now I’m hearing the movie may go directly to DVD up here.

Anyway, bottom line: If you’re in New York or Los Angeles this weekend, catch “Two Lovers” at your local art house. And if you run into Phoenix at a club somewhere, ask him to do the responsible thing and just talk the damn movie up a little.

2 thoughts on “This Can’t Be Good for Anyone”

  1. I’m of two minds about this. Sure, Phoenix has proven capable of delivering a good performance in a film or two. But then again, his role in Gladiator is perhaps the worst performance by any actor in the history of acting. So, honestly, I doubt that I’ll miss him all that much.

  2. Along with its NY/LA opening this weekend, it’s also premiering on HDNET tonight. It’s a one night showing, but it means it won’t be eligible for next year’s Oscars. I assume more films like this will follow. “Wendy and Lisa” and “The Visitor” could have gone a similar route had they been made a year later.

    And no, I don’t think Phoenix’s career change had much to do with it. The business is faltering is the what it is.

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