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Posterized June 2014: ‘Snowpiercer,’ ‘The Rover,’ ‘Venus in Fur’ and More

Written by on June 2, 2014 

Fierce eyes

There’s something eerily creepy about Gravillis Inc.’s poster for The Sacrament (limited June 6) and it’s not just my eyes trying to tell my brain that the giant floating head is John Goodman when it’s not. No, it’s the sense of darkness in every corner from the still, dead bodies at bottom to the solitary helicopter coming too late through the trees. And the glow of the cross at the center can’t help but juxtapose salvation against hubris—a stage set for a mass murderer to lead his flock to their destruction.

The logotype is subtle and effective with its rough, grunge texture and the cross counter in the second “A”. Its color pops it from the heaviness beneath and the tiny white supporting text to move our eyes up towards its monster in full control. The imagery is so much better than their cutout hand creating windows of film stills against a blotchy red. I rarely applaud a floating head over graphic artwork, but here we are.

For The Rover (limited June 20) I choose the sheet with Guy Pearce‘s sadness in a motionless, mid-quiver above Robert Pattinson staring directly at us as the winner of its campaign. The title is positioned and sized nicely to balance the “The” above the “V”, Pearce’s beard and pores are in extreme focus to the point where we could count each, and there appears to be a crucifix in the distance with a man affixed—possibly a clothesline or electric pole but definitely an intentional addition.

The sense of drama is extreme and almost matched by Jeremy Saunders‘ shot of Pattinson stumbling away from us with gun in hand. The lighting is perfect, the contrast beautiful in its yellowish tint. I want to know where he’s going as much as where he’s been, wondering who it was he’s killed as well as who he seeks. It creates a separate air of mystery without Pearce—one of greater danger yet almost as much compassion from the slumped shoulders alone. As menacing as Ignition’s shadowy character sheets, these first two also include a touch more humanity to ground things in the helplessness of a man with nothing to lose as much as hardened unpredictability.

It’s that same heavy sadness that P+A instills with Aaron Paul on their double exposed artwork for Hellion (limited June 13). Similar to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo coupling of one character in profile and the other in three-quarter, we look into both souls through the transparency and their eyes. The coloring is almost a combination of warm and cold, keeping us unsure of the emotionality while also pointing us to the right direction by its silent elegy of small town folk and dirt bike appeal.

I didn’t like the title font at first, but it has grown on me a lot after subsequent views. There is something electric about it—and no, not because the “I” is a lightning bolt. The angled slab serifs are simultaneously blunt and sharp; the kerning between letters wide and purposeful as the italics moves us through. It makes us look at its two halves: the word meaning a child who behaves badly turning into “hell” and “lion” with the dark abyss of the distant stares above foreshadowing a horror you can’t begin to anticipate.

The Boland Design Company does a similar thing with The Last Sentence (NYC June 20). Here the hazy fog of contemplation creates clouds of ink as though suspended in water with a face melting into swastika and what is probably an example of the Hitler and the Nazi criticism he printed as editor of a Swedish newspaper.

It’s so much more mesmerizing than the original international poster that utilizes the same photograph. We get to see the full gun now, embrace the complexity of the era in which this character lived, and really understand the struggle he’s experiencing as more than mere portrait. In all honesty, the Swedish one could be showing a man on the phone as easily as one ready to fight.


Dramatics

I don’t think I’ve heard people talk about a film more than they have Borgman (limited June 6) this past year. Generally revolving around adjectives that intrigue enough to the point I truly don’t want to know anything about it before sitting down, checking out these posters has been my first exposure to the film itself. Let’s just say this new English-language sheet is in accord with the reactions I’ve read.

How could this imagery not whet your appetite and get your thoughts swimming? A crazed Jan Bijvoet alone is enough to arrest your gaze let alone the treasures hidden inside his jacket. It’s a surreal portrait wherein his under shirt disappears to reveal the Xerox-copy of a landscape at his back as overly-detailed paper dolls exit to depict a warped sense of nuclear family outside a cement block house that seems more prison than home. Is he letting them out or inviting us in?

It captures a mood that the foreign posters simply do not. I’m not sure what is going on with the cartoon tub—two people dead in buckets while he dejectedly eats soup? It’s goofy, weird, and playful—three things that for all I know may better describe the film than the photographic manipulation of horror. They just don’t do it for me. And neither does Alex van Warmerdam‘s painting. All it does is make me think of Hunger.

Coherence (limited June 20), on-the-other-hand, finds a way to captivate with photo imagery and abstract comedy. I really enjoy Juan Luis Garcia‘s flippable entry. It’s unsettling in its mirrored axis, copying itself everywhere except the comet flying at top right. Or is it? The way Emily Baldoni‘s faces fade into the starry black sky creates a shadow that appears darker on the bottom head in comparison to the top. I know it’s probably just a trick of the mind, but I can’t help thinking the left one is angry while the right scared.

Willing to go in a different direction, Juan Luis Garcia also gives two very similar sheets of a dining room table. One has a photo of Baldoni and the other Nicholas Brendon, one a Ping-Pong paddle and the other a stuffed monkey. There are more inconsistencies to spy upon from the number on the di, tomatoes on a plate of grilled chicken, as well as the type of wine. A puzzle so subtle you truly need both to be hanging from your indie theater’s wall to notice everything, of course I want to watch the film and discover even more.

Moving from mystery to mood, this advert for Snowpiercer (limited June 27) is gorgeous. A glorified film still that manages to get John Hurt, Chris Evans, and Jamie Bell all in frame despite three-quarters of the whole being a grainy mist of night, it instills a feeling of claustrophobia that I’m sure aligns with the film being set on a train. The title is permeated by the darkness just around the letters’ edges as though being taken over and we’re left wondering what’s hiding in the nothingness or perhaps even fearful it may reach out and grab us too.

The second sheet is also good besides its weirdly filtered title looking like a bad emboss. Hurt is seen rising above the faceless hoard coming towards us as a beacon of hope amongst the dire straits he transcends as the walls enclose us in their metallic prison like sardines in a can and we almost find the need to turn around so as not to be engulf by the mass of humanity coming our way.

Sadly the original Korean posters never quite equaled this success with a string of character sheets portraying squalor and one innocuously darkened silhouette wearing a jacket covered by symbols. There’s no scale or stakes—two things the stateside examples have in spades.

The same can be said about Venus in Fur (limited June 20). Where Le Cercle Noir‘s international iteration looks to update the imagery used on the cover of David Ives‘ play, Gravillis Inc. goes all-out with their insanely dramatic American release. Rather than simply turn the French design from illustration to photo—possibly because someone already did to horrible effect—Gravillis increases the sexuality and suspense by forcing us face-to-face with a disembodied pair of legs.

The font goes back to mimic the original play cover and provide intrigue above sans serif coldness, adding a playful flourish to the fishnet contours and pitch-black space. It’s a perfect evolutionary step from Creative Partnership‘s Albert Nobbs, deconstructing the female form in a way that makes the subject generic while allowing the substance to remain uniquely specific. It’s another striking piece of art by Gravillis, who are fast becoming the benchmark for movie poster craft.

What is your favorite June release poster? What could have used a rework?

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