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Aaron Johnson (#110 of 3)

Poster Lab: Anna Karenina

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Poster Lab: <em>Anna Karenina</em>
Poster Lab: <em>Anna Karenina</em>

How to sell a Keira Knightley period romance and still distinguish it from every other Keira Knightley period romance? For Focus Features’ Anna Karenina, the answer is proudly touting spectacle while employing markedly modern embellishments. The eighth major screen adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel, and the fifth film from hit-or-miss Brit Joe Wright, this spare-no-expense movie wears its grandiosity on its ruffled sleeve, as the recently released trailer certainly attests.

The poster is at once overstuffed, dazzling, tacky, evocative, arrogant, and perfect. Like a shot of an antique shop raided by the royal court and Chris Van Allsburg, it blends opulent production design with near-absurdist block font, which serves to communicate the clout of the story, its endurance in modern times, a diva sensibility, and even the wintry Russia setting, reflected in the gleam of those imposing, towering letters. Positioning its elements on a glitzy stage to boot, the image promises precisely what the trailer does in all those shots of swirling sparks and beating fans: a slick and swoony costume drama of almost goofy proportions.

Poster Lab: Savages

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Poster Lab: Savages
Poster Lab: Savages

It’s probably not a good sign that the poster for Oliver Stone’s Savages makes a perfect column subject for Easter Sunday. By most evidence, this isn’t a movie that wants to be associated with jelly beans and Marshmallow Peeps; however, the egg-dye color palette of one-sheet number one would beg to differ. Cut this image along the lines that divvy it into seven slices, and you’ve got instant sleeves for the hard-boiled beauties you dunked in vinegar last night. This isn’t the first time a poster for an Oliver Stone film used vibrant hues to herald something largely dark (the ads for The Doors and Natural Born Killers went that route at one stage or another), but it is the first time the poster seems wildly out of step with what it’s selling. Yes, Blake Lively’s hippie-ish character, O, is prone to snorting coke, but that’s not exactly the sort of candy this glossy collage appears to promise.

Based on Don Winslow’s lauded 2010 novel of the same name, Savages is a crime-filled, drug-loaded drama unfolding across sun-soaked California and Mexico. Its cast? A bevy of ’90s megastars who dabbled on the pulpy fringes (John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Salma Hayek, Benicio del Toro), and a smattering of camera-ready, pore-free, in-demand hotties (Lively, Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Emile Hirsch). On second thought, perhaps that color scheme isn’t so off the mark after all.

Nashville Film Festival 2010: Nowhere Boy, Provinces of Night, Art House, & More

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Nashville Film Festival 2010: <em>Nowhere Boy</em>, <em>Provinces of Night</em>, <em>Art House</em>, & More
Nashville Film Festival 2010: <em>Nowhere Boy</em>, <em>Provinces of Night</em>, <em>Art House</em>, & More

“Maybe we’re plain Southern people, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have taste and aren’t willing to expand our horizons,” says the Nashville Film Festival’s energetic artistic director, Brian Owens. In his second year with the event, Owens presides over a full-spectrum program of 110 features and 12 world premieres that comprise the festival’s 41st edition. The longest running film festival in the South is located in Tennessee’s capital, nicknamed “music city,” and is appropriately peppered with music-oriented and country-flavored selections.

All screenings take place in a single Regal multiplex in the tony Green Hills neighborhood, home to such luminaries as Al Gore, Tim McGraw, and Faith Hill. “There are fewer blistered feet at this festival,” says Owens, “and a single site festival builds community. When a movie is over you can talk about it right here and then go back in for your next one.”

“Our audience members here are good talkers. If they like a film, word-of-mouth is going to spread like wildfire,” he adds.