Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Actor Profile: Joaquin Phoenix

(image courtesy of awardscircuit)

Take a look at Joaquin Phoenix's upcoming movies: Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master," and two upcoming movies from Spike Jonze and James Gray (one a piece, that is) that are coming out in 2013. After his absence from the big screen in 2008, Joaquin Phoenix went through a weird time in his career. He briefly "retired," grew a beard, started a rap career, made awkward appearances on David Letterman... all of this was found out to be an act for his 2010 documentary "I'm Still Here" which could either be called an interesting piece of performance art or a load of crap. Both opinions have been expressed by critics across the country.

What happened? That's what I want to know. Maybe Phoenix felt overworked or lost, maybe he was going through an early mid-life crisis. Whatever it was, he seems to have come back to the big screen in a big way playing the lead role in The Master. He really looks like he's sunk his teeth into this role. Before we were wondering what Phillip Seymour Hoffman was going to be like when the movie was first announced, but now it looks more like the Joaquin Phoenix show.

You know, I only really consider Joaquin Phoenix to be a good actor at this point. He's had some great roles such as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line, his role as Commodus in Gladiator is especially memorable. There's also his roles in Signs, The Village, We Own the Night, Two Lovers. He's showed promise. Perhaps Walk the Line showed he could be great. But from what I've seen from The Master so far, he looks to be tapping into something bigger. Is it Paul Thomas Anderson's effect on these actors or is it a combination of the actor's commitment and PT Anderson's involvement? We all knew Daniel Day-Lewis was a great actor long before he was Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood. But then again?

Tom Cruise gave his career best performance in Magnolia, Mark Wahlberg proved he can be taken seriously in Boogie Nights, Adam Sandler's performance in Punchdrunk Love forced critics to conclude that he can be a great actor. It definitely seems like PT Anderson brings something out of these actors that we would otherwise never get out of them and that seems to be true with Joaquin Phoenix as well.

Nevertheless, Phoenix is now working with Spike Jonze, he's collaborating with James Gray again, his acting career seems to have a new and inspired sense of purpose. His performance as Freddie Quell in The Master might mark as the turning point. Or, better yet, the beginning of phase two of Joaquin Phoenix's career where he goes from being a good actor to a great actor. The prospects are exciting and in ten days, when The Master gets a limited release in NY and LA, we could be seeing the restart of a promising career becoming fully realized. I'm looking forward to Joaquin Phoenix's golden years.

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