Director Casey Affleck's revelation
last week that Joaquin Phoenix did not, in fact, lost his mind for the
documentary I'm Still Here was a turn of events most people regarded as
predictable and infuriating (and even predictably infuriating). This is a
mistake, cautions Alex
at The Awl. The fact that pretty much everyone saw through the
stunt doesn't diminish its impact. Explains Balk:
work requires risk, and that is indeed something that Phoenix and
Affleck took, even if they were remarkably maladroit in the
execution...Don't we want our artists' reach to exceed their grasp?
Wouldn't we rather be given the gift of something timeless that results
from a willingness to fall on one's face rather than a strict adherence
to playing it safe? The greatest moments in film, theater,
literature—any of the arts, really—come from those who were prepared to
face the scorn and derision of the crowd because somewhere deep within
they had a vision that they were willing to see through to completion.
They believed when no one else did. That some of these visions are
juvenile and worthless ideas on the world-historical scale of failure
that Affleck and Phoenix ushered forth only makes the successes shine
that much more brightly...It's not pretty, but great art rarely is....
In many ways you could say that Phoenix and Affleck are some of the most
important artists of their age because they have shown us just how
difficult it is to pull something off, especially if you have no talent
for the type of creation you are attempting in the first place. They
deserve to be recognized as such.
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