Why is it so weird for an actor to make a career change and decide to be a rapper? The idea works in reverse. Hip-hop stars transition successfully to TV and movies all the time, and though few if any abandon their first profession completely, a lot of them end up more focused on the new course they've taken. We may be reminded of this imbalance while watching the new documentary I'm Still Here, in which actor-turned-rapper Joaquin Phoenix meets with rapper-turned-actor Sean "Diddy" Combs to discuss the former's interest in recording a hip hop album. Combs gets rather annoyed at "JP" (Phoenix's new rapper name) for seemingly treating rap as an easy thing to do. There's a definite level of irony to the pairing of these two figures here. As there is with another candid moment between Phoenix and a genuinely stunned Mos Def.

Phoenix's mistake could be that he retired from acting suddenly and outright, or it might be that his talent for rapping is undeniably thin. Or, frankly, that he's white. Yet the fact is, regardless of his skin color or how he went about it and whether or not he was good at his chosen music genre, there is a plain and simple factor that movie stars can't overcome, and that is the fame game. Even when well-received critically or commercially, like an Eddie Murphy or a Kevin Bacon, the world will never be able to separate the music or the act from the celebrity attached to it. People listening to or seeing a live performance by Dogstar or 30 Odd Foot Grunts primarily sees Keanu Reeves or Russell Crowe in their respective band. We saw that mess with Billy Bob Thornton last year. And it's an interesting matter to, um, explore in a, uh...

Hold on, I'm going off in a direction unsuited to this film and, I presume, unsuited to your interest in it. Let me address the real issue after the jump.
categories Reviews, Cinematical