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Osama Bin Laden (#110 of 25)

New York Film Festival 2013: Captain Phillips Review

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New York Film Festival 2013: <em>Captain Phillips</em> Review
New York Film Festival 2013: <em>Captain Phillips</em> Review

The more movies he makes, the more Paul Greengrass’s have-it-both-ways m.o. as a filmmaker becomes clearer, aiming to craft high-octane action spectacles that also thoughtfully address topical events and current sociopolitical realities without becoming overly didactic. Some, of course, will object on principle to the mere act of turning events such as the Iraq War and the 9/11 attacks—two of Greengrass’s previous subjects—into pulse-pounding thrills in the first place, arguing that he’s exploiting real-world trauma for the sake of shallow entertainment. If nothing else, though, his latest film, Captain Phillips, reveals, perhaps with even more clarity than before, Greengrass’s well-meaning rationale behind his methods—and with it, their imposing strengths and troubling limitations.

Poster Lab: The Best Movie Posters of 2012

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Poster Lab: The Best Movie Posters of 2012
Poster Lab: The Best Movie Posters of 2012

Honorable Mention

American Animal: It may be a stretch to dub American Animal “the best art film ever,” as Screen Junkies does in this poster’s hyperbolic pull quote, but that’s the only strike against an otherwise spot-on one-sheet, which nails this odd indie’s unlikely blend of grating quirk and classy undercurrent. As pink as the undies often worn by Matt D’Elia’s ailing antihero, the ad wreaths its wiry subject in handsome curlicues, and even throws in a lit fuse to hint at his volatility. The poster, like the film, finds common ground between the high- and lowbrow, the artful and the infantile. [Poster]

The Cabin in the Woods: The poster for The Cabin in the Woods is one of 2012’s few whose design instantly doubled as an unofficial logo, so much so that a later one-sheet needed only include the established graphic’s silhouette. The cabin-as-Rubik’s-Cube may seem obvious and simple, but it’s also perfect and universally legible, rightly promising a mad puzzle of a horror picture. The vintage model eventually produced by Mondo Gallery is notable for its M.C. Escher influences, but it misses the true triumph of this campaign: a deceptively indelible signature image, defined by twists and turns. [Poster] [Article]

Compliance: No matter how you felt about Compliance, a divisive thriller more or less about the loss of dignity, the film’s poster easily trumped its in-text missteps, huddling poor Dreama Walker in a corner and surrounding her with meaningful details. Amid that fine stack of critical endorsements lies the film’s title, whose “C” perfectly encircles Walker’s eye, driving home the sick scrutiny her character endures. Best of all is that whiteboard’s message of customer-is-always-right encouragement, urging fast food employees to dutifully “smile!” The by-the-book irony expertly communicates the film’s themes, arguably even better than the film itself. [Poster] [Article]

Poster Lab: Zero Dark Thirty

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Poster Lab: <em>Zero Dark Thirty</em>
Poster Lab: <em>Zero Dark Thirty</em>

The ad campaign for Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty is all about the act of snuffing out, and Americans’ collective obsession with annihilating all threats to their personal freedoms. Of course, the topic at hand is the biggest threat of all, as Zero Dark Thirty tracks the manhunt and eventual assassination of Osama bin Laden. The poster at right, its case-closed counterpart, and the film’s just-released trailer all deal in dramatic erasure, be it the crisscross strikethrough of a familiar headshot, or the systematic blacking out of classified intel. Naturally, the symbolism largely speaks to the killshot heard ’round the world, but it seems to also have a darker connotation, feeding into the theories that the world wasn’t told the whole story. Staying true to the tight-lipped nature of Bigelow’s post-Hurt Locker production, which underwent rumored title changes right up until its trailer’s release, this is marketing that’s at once provocative and nondescript, as nudgingly suggestive as it is withholding.