makes a return appearance to "Late Show with
" on Wednesday, September 22, and two days later hits the Charles in the controversial
"I'm Still Here," which chronicles his attempt to switch from acting to rap. In addition, just to remind audiences what the fuss is about, "Late Show" will replay, this Thursday, his notoriously cryptic February 11, 2009 appearance, which first set viewers wondering whether he was abysmally burned-out on acting or staging an intricate hoax.
Reviewers in other cities have already been debating whether "I'm Still Here" (which I've not seen) is an honest chronicle of a performer sick of America's star-making machine or a mockumentary akin to "Borat." Should we care about "I'm Still Here?" I do only if it helps get the actor's angst out of his system. His talent is formidable. In a relatively brief career, he's given us several indelible performances -- and I don't mean his attention-getting turn as one of Hollywood's most ignoble Romans in "Gladiator."
As the intelligent, sympathetic priest overseeing
's "Quills," he was at once sensitive, harrowing and manly, like a latter-day
emerging in the most improbable circumstances. In
's "Two Lovers," as a fellow on a painful rebound from a broken engagement, he suggested a tumult of feeling. With surprising dashes of humor, he conveyed how this lost man felt when he was an exuberant guy, especially when he did a rap based on his character's name in a car on the way to a club, and popped a few moves on the dance floor.
And in "Walk the Line," Phoenix portrayed how
squeezed all the conflicted feelings out of his gut and into his songs until he wound up crushed and empty, desperate for renewal.