Yorgos Lanthimos Killing of a Sacred Deer is so nice that I had to see it twice, at different festivals on opposite sides of the world. All of the posters for his films have been noteworthy, and while this one is not quite as remarkable as the first poster, which happens to be my favourite one-sheet of 2017, it is a curious design. Upside down, kind of collage-y and I’m not exactly sure if Nicole Kidman’s neck is really that long, or it is just a trick of the eyes with the superposition. But this one is certain to cause double takes if it happens to be hanging at the local multiplex.
Foregrounded text continues to be a dominating aspect of movie posters these days (Since the poster for David Fincher’s The Social Network. But this poster for Cory Finley’s suburban drama, Thoroughbreds uses the two lead actresses eye-lines to create a harmony with the text. While it does feel more like a book cover than a movie poster, it is that distinction that makes it stand out just a little bit.
Arrow Video recently gave a deluxe Bluray release of John Frankenheimer’s final feature, and late 1990s adult-action classic, Ronin. While they went with a rather boring de-saturated ‘stack of actors sporting guns’ design for the cover, designer ChungKong released this minimalist, warm toned poster that highlights the French locations while emphasizing the over-sized Macguffin, a large silver case used for transporting ice-skates, at the heart of the ‘late unpleasantness.’
Woody Allen’s latest takes place in New York’s Coney Island amusement park in the 1950s. And this key art delivers a nostalgic glow on the eponymous ferris wheel in the title. It also foregrounds a stern but relaxed (?) and nearly unrecognizable Kate Winslet writing in a journal on the worlds smallest day-bed. The warm glow of her hair is at odds with the severity of her expression. Thus lending the tension, will this film be swimming in rosy nostalgia, or be a darker, deeper consideration of New York’s most frivolous, and often dangerous districts.
Fresh off its big Golden Lion win at Venice, its hot-ticket premiere at TIFF, and Opening Film slot announcement at the upcoming at Sitges, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape Of Water gets this handsome charcoal-sketch poster that is a variant of sorts from the water-colour teaser design. Clearly articulating the ‘Creature From The Black Lagoon’-as-a-love-story angle of the film and wearing its festival laurels in the corner, this one will be an eye catcher when it is hung (hopefully on paper, not on a screen) in multiplex lobbies in December. Me, I will be standing in the rush line in Toronto (hey, I’ve been here all week!) at TIFF hoping to see if the film lives up to its praise, or I will be waiting until December like the rest of you.
The Toronto International Film Festival has gotten underway as of yesterday, and I would be remiss if I didn’t offer one of my favourite posters, for one of my favourite films playing the festival. Valley of Shadows is a gorgeous modern version of a classic fairy tale. The story is basically simple: A boy goes into the deep dark woods to look for his lost dog, but discovers unexpected things in his journey. But the construction is impressively formal in how it conveys its images and tone.
The poster emphasizes what much of the film-making language tries tries to impart. Namely, is the lead character dreaming or is this wandering quest a reality? The large moon, and the long winding river both converge on the sleeping form of the lead character, Aslak. The boy, the dog and a boat offer the beginning of the journey at the bottom of the poster. The colours and texture is all gloomy fog, and imposing wilderness. But what is the most eye-catching is how of a piece, the sleeping body of the boy integrates with the horizon. It’s evocative, and original, like the film.
The trailer for the film is tucked under the fold.
Here is one way to stand out in a crowd. Take the imagery right out of the poster and go almost entirely with text. Looking like a paperback novel from the 1960s, the key art for Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, Lady Bird only graphic elements are a small crow on a white cross and a series of warm colour bars along the sides. It’s bold in its own way for avoiding the usual faces of the stars of the film (Saoirse Ronan has a particular striking visage). I doubt you will ever see this as a trend – note the missing credit block, which makes this more of a teaser poster than the ‘real thing.’ Nevertheless, I applaud the restraint and taste here. It works.
As key art goes, this latest poster for Blade Runner 2029 is about as assembly line as one can get. I only post it here to beat the dead horse of Orange and Teal one final time. For years since the Digital Intermediate became standard in the editing/post-production process, action film directors and producers (ahem, Michael Bay, Joel Silver) have been colour grading their films towards orange skin tones and blue tints, because science (SCIENCE!) says we like it. But we also get tired of it, and it has been falling out of favour (with a few exceptions) since Die Hard 5’s overkill use of it.
This phenomena has worked its way into posters as well, because Photoshop is pretty easy, but I’ve never seen it as prevalent as this one, which literally puts the orange on one half, and the teal on the other. Now this kind of syncs with the art-design of images and scenes we have seen in the movie. Roger Deakins is not really behind the curve here, rather he is actively moving between entire scenes of warm orange, cold blue, and steely grey, much the same way he used Yellow and Blue filters as a guide to where Emily Blunt’s character’s awareness/control was in Sicario. It is more just putting the same two halves (I suspect) of the movie onto one kind of standard one sheet.
Clear as mud? Righto.
World famous Chinese activist-artist Ai Wei Wei makes his film debut with Human Flow, and not surprisingly it is interesting from a visual point of view. My experience of Ai Wei Wei is limited to the pair of documentaries I’ve seen on the man, and the bicycle art installation he did in Toronto a couple years back, but one simple take-away, beyond the political, is that he like stacking, scattering or placing a lot of little things to make a big point. And that is exactly the design philosophy of this poster. The film itself is a documentary and has been selected for competition in the 2017 edition of the Venice Film Festival.
Usually reserved for thrillers, the ‘white border’ dividing photos design (See Heist, Triple Nine, Homefront, Red) a classic poster cliche. But as with many things Soderbergh, repurposing that cliche with a bit more care. For instance the borders here in some cases split a single image, rather than just lazily putting in on-set stills or head-shots of the movie stars (a major pet peeve of mine when it comes to poster design).
The black and white mix with sunset colours also really works, and is a stand out in a year of pink posters.
Further points for the side-mountain credit block to accomodate the race-car and drifting cash under the title.
After last weeks tirade against the lazy photoshopping of guns into movie posters, let us show some love for the rare hand-painted poster, be it digital or analog. Consider this gorgeous poster for Ted Geoghegan’s Mohawk which recently premiered at the Fantasia International Film Festival. First off, using the reflection of the Mohawk warrior in the water to give the the poster an ‘upside-down’ feel, is supremely inviting to take a closer look. Second, the notes of red and white stand out against the dark shades of black that comprise much of the design. Third, the closer-to-the-middle credit block placement leaves space to have the forest and the moon in the frame, the lighting elements for the entire tableau. But also and indicator that this will be a film ‘lost in the wilderness’ both figuratively and literally. You simply do not see posters like this one very often, and it is a delight to seem them this well done when they come along.