Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday Similar Subjects

Welcome to a weekly feature here at Movies With Abe. After spending a number of weeks looking at actors who tend to play the same characters, it’s time to spotlight two films with eerily similar plots that came out at roughly the same time. There are surprisingly more examples than might be obvious, and this series will examine the similarities and differences between the two (or three), and how their simultaneous releases affected each other.

I’m Still Here / Catfish

Release dates: September 10, 2010 / September 17, 2010

The similarities: Both were documentaries from first-time directors with highly publicized central subjects that didn’t turn out to be exactly what people expected, namely in that they weren’t necessarily legitimate documentaries at all. Casey Affleck made his feature film debut directing his friend Phoenix, as did Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, who have since gone on to helm the third and fourth installments of the “Paranormal Activity” series.

The differences: The former was about Joaquin Phoenix and his very public erratic behavior during press interviews while the latter featured no-name young men pursuing a phantom Facebook contact.

The releases: The former was released in 120 theatres and made about $400,000 and the latter was released in 143 theatres and made over $3 million. Reviews for the former were less favorable than those for the latter, mainly because its novelty was intriguing to people, while the former put people off because of the way it framed its content.

Which one is more likely to be remembered? The former. Phoenix has now rebooted his career with “The Master,” and this is a chronicle of the time he took away from coherence. The latter didn’t make a big enough splash despite the fact that everyone was talking about it when it was originally released.

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