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Stoker (#110 of 5)

The 20 Best Movie Posters of 2013

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The 20 Best Movie Posters of 2013
The 20 Best Movie Posters of 2013

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.

Sundance Film Festival 2013: Stoker

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Sundance Film Festival 2013: <em>Stoker</em>
Sundance Film Festival 2013: <em>Stoker</em>

Korean director Park Chan-wook, perhaps best known in the West for his “Vengeance” trilogy, makes his English-language debut with Stoker, from a 2010 “Black List” script by Wentworth Miller. The film plays out from the point of view of India Stoker (Mia Wasikowksa), a teenaged girl whose father dies suddenly, leaving her to grieve with an emotionally distant mother Evie (Nicole Kidman). An uncle she’s never met before (Matthew Goode) arrives shortly after, a man who India finds herself attracted to despite a suspicion of his motives. When his mysterious arrival coincides with a series of disappearances, India becomes determined to find out whatever secrets he might be hiding.

Park’s eye seems to capture the banal, the beautiful, and the grotesque all at once. The opening shots of the film are especially striking, taking in the large gothic landscape on the grounds of India’s father’s sprawling, ominous-looking estate. Another scene in, which India and her uncle play the piano together, is claustrophobic, disturbing, and strangely beautiful thanks to sumptuous cinematography by Chung Chung-hoon. The entire atmosphere of the piece seems to suggest a looming danger, the potential and aftermath of violence. And while the violence here is more understated than that of Oldboy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, it’s handled with an unflinching lens that simultaneously tantalizes and implicates the viewer.

Poster Lab: Stoker

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Poster Lab: <em>Stoker</em>
Poster Lab: <em>Stoker</em>

Park Chan-wook’s Stoker is one of those films that’s heralded with uniform allure, its bevy of talent advertised in a tantalizing trailer, and now, one artful, remarkable one-sheet. Joining the all-too-slim club of illustrated ads, this black-and-white, apparently pencil-drawn beauty thrives on minute detail, taking the risk of drawing in the eye rather than brashly broadcasting its goods. Sure, there’s bound to be a more marketing-friendly version, with Nicole Kidman’s wrathful face blown up for all to see, but, for now, Chan-wook’s fans can savor Version 1, which, ironically, bears the lines and hues of currency.

Stoker, of course, marks Chan-wook’s English-language debut, and his most buzzed-about work since Oldboy. Co-penned by Prison Break heartthrob Wentworth Miller, it explores the sordid secrets of one very dysfunctional family, whose fan-the-flames surname gives the film its title. The poster, it would seem, depicts a gnarled family tree, dressed with brooding glances, angry birds, and skeletons from closets.