When cinephiles discuss films of the aughts that were mysteriously unloved or misunderstood, a title that often comes up is Jonathan Glazer’s Birth, a taboo tale crudely summarized as one of resurrection and cradle-robbing love. It was a bold work that required time for its formal merits to be processed and appreciated; however, few of its champions probably thought that they’d have to wait so long for a follow-up from the director. It’s been 10 whole years since Birth first bewitched us, and only now is the next entry in Glazer’s oeuvre within reach. Starring Scarlett Johansson in a performance that’s netting her international raves, Glazer’s Under the Skin looks to be an elliptical sci-fi flick of Kubrickian proportions, taking an intoxicatingly artful approach to the Species formula of a sexy, predatorial female alien (Johansson) roaming the earth. Yesterday, the film’s official cosmic one-sheet debuted. Today, A24 released its first U.S. trailer.
Posters (#1–10 of 74)
What were the common threads among the finest film posters of 2013? Mustaches. Sunglasses. Font that boldly monopolizes the center of the design. And plenty of pink. A great movie poster can do a great many things, but it’s most important attribute is always the reminder that there are more ways to enticingly sell a film than with famous faces. Virtually every genre (and budget level) is covered in this roster of 2013’s best, proving that great marketing in this industry is by no means exclusive to one type or size of film. And though an ethical issue had a pivotal effect on the final results, it couldn’t tarnish a collection of vastly diverse aesthetic triumphs, which helped to richly enhance the cinema-going year.
- ain't them bodies saints
- anchorman 2: the legend continues
- cutie and the boxer
- frances ha
- Lee Daniels' The Butler
- Only God Forgives
- poster lab
- Spring Breakers
- the bling ring
- the canyons
- the hunger games: catching fire
- the kings of summer
- white reindeer
- world war z
- you're next
Movie poster design probably isn’t as lost an art as many claim it to be, but every year, countless audience-insulting ads arrive to support the theories of the doomsday crowd. Granted, there are plenty of tossed-together one-sheets out there that are easy targets for criticism, but none ticked off this poster lover like the doozies included here. From glaring dependence on star power to the dreaded sliver formula, these design snafus are the ones that made you want to pull a Banksy at the multiplex, whipping out your Krylon can and doing a little defacing, if only to counteract the woes of daft commercialism.
The trailer for writer/director Zach Clark’s White Reindeer doesn’t seem to feature any cocaine use, but it might as well. Depicting the grievous unraveling of formerly sunny Suzanne (Anna Margaret Hollyman), who suffers the death of her husband before finding out he was having an affair with an exotic dancer (Laura Lemar-Goldsborough), this offbeat holiday comedy and SXSW favorite seems primed to throw in the kitchen sink when it comes to Suzanne’s self-medication. If the clip shows us Suzanne dancing, drinking, and buddying up with the other woman, then the poster reveals what else the widow is imbibing, forming the silhouette of a Christmas tree from lines of cocaine. It may well be that the titular term is a euphemism for blow that I’m not aware of, and it may well be that that white powder isn’t cocaine at all. (Who’s to say Suzanne isn’t breaking bad with a little meth?) Either way, this notably naughty poster serves to place White Reindeer among the ranks of other transgressive yuletide flicks. Almost immediately, it calls to mind the Criterion cover art for Arnaud Desplechin’s A Christmas Tale, which is also given the Tannenbaum-by-substance treatment, shaping a tree from the dark dramedy’s ever-present cigarette smoke.
Red flags should fly with the relaunch of anything as notable—and bankable—as a Disney brand, but the anomaly of Maleficent seems to lie in its spot-on casting, as Angelina Jolie, beyond being one of our few bona fide female headliners, looks wickedly appropriate as Sleeping Beauty’s horned villainess. Aside from the usual handful of leaked set photos, the world got its first peek at Jolie in character last June, and attendees of Disney’s D23 Expo caught a glimpse of the film, and Jolie in person, this past August. Yesterday, an official poster was finally released, showing Jolie in full, dark-magic regalia, and proving once again that, when it comes to modernized costumes, you can’t go wrong with black leather. The ad also features Jolie rocking green peepers, enhanced cheekbones a la Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” phase, and “lips red as the rose,” to quote the Mistress of All Evil herself. Jolie’s aesthetic impact alone boded well for this pseudo-prequel even before its teaser trailer premiered this morning.
Assuming he’s one filmmaker who’s heavily involved with the marketing of his movies, Wes Anderson has become a master of the fetching teaser poster, using mysteriously detailed, illustrative one-sheets that only hint at what the given film is about. Recently, the posters for his films fall somewhere in between those that peddle attractive casts and director-as-brand, and those that merely tease a brand itself. Anderson is so unfailingly unique and exciting a filmmaker that he has become his own draw, but he doesn’t seem to rely on that, nor do his marquee names seem to be scrawled across his ads just to sell his pictures. They’re doing that, of course, but given that Anderson has come to work with recurring players in a kind of company, the cast list reads more as a celebration of an ensemble, particularly when the biggest name in the lineup is Bill Murray. And how glorious it is to gaze upon a poster that is pushing nothing recognizable, no known faces or logos, but simply something curious, handsome, and new.
Twice in a row, Anderson has employed this specific approach, first with last year’s poster for Moonrise Kingdom, which we named one of the best movie posters of 2012, and now with his poster for The Grand Budapest Hotel, unveiled just days ago. Like the Moonrise Kingdom ad, we’re given a fairy-tale tableau, with an unfamiliar subject in the foreground (here, the titular inn substituted for a Hansel-and-Gretel duo), and a background that stretches off to the horizon. Furthermore, the wedding-cake-esque hotel is surrounded by numerous quirky details, like the perched buck that appears statuesque, the topiaries on the lower terrace that seem to be playing chess with one another, and the cemetery-style arch that bears the movie’s title, perhaps implying that death is afoot.
So far, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom looks as though it could be the best film yet about Nelson Mandela, not least because Clint Eastwood’s Invictus was such a bland misfire, and the just-released Winnie Mandela is merely a lukewarm, movie-of-the-week affair. Backed by the Weinstein Company and starring an awards-baity Idris Elba, Long Walk to Freedom might be seen as an Invictus prequel, as it charts all of the events prior to Mandela’s release from prison, rather than vice-versa. Such is part of the appeal: This is a revolutionary film, giving you a glimpse of the man when he was more volatile freedom fighter than soft-spoken politico. Until now, the marketing campaign has taken advantage of this angle, releasing posters like this one, which aptly looks like a propaganda piece you’d see pasted on a building, or this one, which scrawls the words “trouble maker” across Mandela’s portrait. The latest poster, however, released in the U.K. (home to to Elba, co-star Naomie Harris, and director Justin Chadwick), looks like it’s touting a terribly unfortunate Invictus wannabe, with Elba in an old-age makeup that certainly shouldn’t be front and center.
Poor Naomi Watts just can’t escape the big blue. Everywhere we see the Aussie actress these days, it seems she’s accompanied by a literal ocean, its waters deep and vast, and ripe for the application of metaphor. First, Watts fought against a tsunami in The Impossible, an act many would say paid off since it landed her an Oscar nod. Then, Watts cheated on bestie Nicole Kidman with Robin Wright, her Adore co-star with whom she did a son-as-sex-partner swap, and floated on an anchored dock just off the Australian coast. Now, Watts is gazing off into the ripply horizon again on this one-sheet for Diana, a once-baity biopic that casts the actress as the ill-fated “people’s princess.”
Bearing the tagline, “The only thing more incredible than the life she led was the secret she kept,” the poster, in all its open space, points to the missed opportunities of a life cut short, and calls to mind one of the worst lines in Titanic: “A woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets.” Presumably, this scene shows Watt’s Diana on the luxury yacht of Dodi Fayed (Cas Anvar), where a few of the film’s key scenes reportedly take place. Where it positions Watts herself is where she’s unfortunately been for too long now: caught drifting in limbo between her considerable talent and the quality of work to which she’s attached.
There’s homage, and then there’s the new poster for Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, which couldn’t be more evocative of David Lynch’s Eraserhead if it featured a lizard-baby’s scissor-stabbed organs. It’s supremely interesting that the folks behind Nebraska turned to the world of Lynch for inspiration, since few would think to connect the surrealist auteur to Payne’s deadpan Americana. But maybe there is something here, beyond these one-sheets’ high-contrast black-and-white, and beyond the shocks of hair that respectively define Jack Nance and Bruce Dern’s characters, that link the filmmakers’ works. Though more darkly and elliptically inclined, Lynch is as much a surveyor of Anytown, USA as Payne will ever be, and the latter has offered his share of bluntly ironic, borderline-Lynchian character quirks. What’s most interesting here is the implication that Nebraska, like Eraserhead, is, on some level, a nightmare.
Today marked the release of the trailer and poster for Dallas Buyers Club, the long-touted, awards-buzzy Matthew McConaughey vehicle, wherein the newly ubiquitous, former bongo drummer plays Ron Woodruff, a real-life AIDS victim who began smuggling treatment drugs across the border. Startlingly gaunt, McConnaughey pulled a drastic, Christian-Bale-esque slimdown for the part, as did co-star Jared Leto, who plays Rayon, a transsexual and fellow AIDS patient (reportedly, McConnaughey dropped 38 pounds for the film, while Leto lost 30).
Woodruff’s story, unfolding circa 1986, is indeed a remarkable one, telling of a club that was formed to offer AIDS sufferers pure alternatives to the government-dispersed AZT, which wreaked havoc on the bodies of many who took it. What Woodruff reportedly “started” began to spread very rapidly, with alternative, illegal med clubs cropping up all over the country (you’ll remember that AIDS patients who were forced to become scientists and fight for their own lives were documented last year in the remarkable How to Survive a Plague.)