Joaquin Phoenix - An Examined Life“I say that it is the greatest good for a man to discuss virtue every day and those other things about which you hear me conversing and testing myself and others, for the unexamined life is not worth living” (Apology by Plato). With this challenge, Socrates sets moral philosophy, as we understand it, in motion. For the first time, it is not good enough for a man to merely understand and examine the universe that surrounds him. Now, a man must also understand and examine the universe that dwells within his own soul.
-- Frank Redmond
I can't tell you how long I've been considering a Joaquin Phoenix marathon. Maybe it's as early as when I came to the forum in 2011 and found the marathon thread, or maybe it was when I tried to write about The Village
for another thread here and stumbled. I should have been able to come up with something, I mean I saw the movie in the theater four times! But even back then, the reason I kept returning, was to investigate what was going on within Lucius Hunt. And after four times through, I still couldn't quite grasp it. ...Whenever this idea began, it's time now to take on the challenge. I'm tired of being intimidated by it.
I also can't say how long I've been aware of Joaquin Phoenix (hereafter JP). The 1996 book, Lost Hollywood: The Fast Times and Short Life of River Phoenix
certainly brought to light the family's troubled story. And when JP's Bruno in The Immigrant
said he danced on the streets as a child for money, it's pretty autobiographical. This brings to mind, where does acting begin and reenacting end? Or, are the lines too blurry to bother knowing the answer? I would posit that it's exactly this undefinable territory which makes JP's performances so intriguing.
Here's the thing. My grandmother wanted to be a nurse, so she approached her father and he said, "I will pay for your schooling, if you promise to take care of your family with your nursing skills." She promised, she got her degree, and she spent the rest of her life keeping that promise. JP knew abject poverty and has also kept his promise to make good, so his family wouldn't want again. Whether it was an explicit, or an implicit expectation, it matters not, for the child assumed the responsibility. Reminiscent of Judy Garland's utter adherence to her childhood born obligations, I want to see triumph this time around. Keeping my fingers crossed.
I entertained the thought of going through JP's films chronologically, but let that go. This will be a meandering sort of exercise, with no agenda, except to explore an actor and his approach to his characters. Please feel free to use this thread as you wish. Review, comment, lament, rate, etc.
ABC Afterschool Specials. Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia
1989To Die For
1995Inventing the Abbotts
1997Return to Paradise
2002It's All About Love
2004Walk the Line
2005We Own the Night
2007Two Lovers 2008I'm Still Here
2013Her 2013Inherent Vice
2015You Were Never Really Here
2017Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot
2018The Sisters Brothers
2019Far Bright Star