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Posterized November 2015: ‘Spectre,’ ‘Carol’, ‘Creed,’ and More

Written by on November 3, 2015 

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably.

We’ve entered awards season territory as November sees a bunch of critical darlings making their way across the country fresh off festival circuit bows. I’m talking the likes of Brooklyn (limited November 4) and Trumbo (limited November 6), whose posters I couldn’t fit in here. But don’t think you can’t also catch some counter-programming like Heist (limited November 13) (poster) and Love the Coopers (November 13) (poster), two films whose posters make them look like direct-to-DVD fare and lame holiday rehash respectively.

The first grouping comes with pedigrees from reviewers and audiences alike so it’s nice to see studios allowing their design firms to deliver a visual aesthetic equal to the task. It doesn’t happen often, but I actually really like all the section headline one-sheets compiled below.

Child’s play

I guess wading through Monsters University and a year with no Pixar film comes with its benefits as 2015 carries not one but two installments. Inside Out didn’t have the greatest poster campaign of the studio’s history but it was their best film since Up. Does that mean The Good Dinosaur (November 25) having memorable posters will cause the finished product to not be as good? Maybe. But if this is what ends up happening, I think it will have more to do with Inside Out being so good than its own demise.

That said: I really enjoy what Proof has done on the teaser. Dealing with dinos and cavemen, it’s a no-brainer to go cave wall painting and yet it seems to be the only way to have gone. This thing is so simple—giving us both species in pictographic form while also showing the expected comradery formed by the characters. Pixar and Thanksgiving are the only other information tidbits we need.

It may not be as great, but the firm’s final sheet with sparkling bugs flowing against the fully rendered dino and cave-boy is as memorable on theater walls. The layout gives us a glimpse at the artistic design while also setting a mood that moves it past comparisons to that other prehistoric animated series Ice Age. Unfortunately Proof cannot keep it up with the next advert looking practically like an Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs cast-off.

Proof was also in charge of Blue Sky Studios’ family-friendly entry The Peanuts Movie (November 6). It too is self-explanatory with Snoopy and Woodstock atop the former’s doghouse—fitting into each other similarly to the handprint into dinosaur painting. November and a tagline are also all anyone needs otherwise for a property such as Chuck Schultz‘s icon pooch. The simple fact he has a poster and therefore a feature film is enough to get many excited.

I’m not sure who did the next one, but it may be safe to say Proof as well considering the firm did a similar design for The Muppets. I liked it then and I like it now—just throw everyone in at once and give us calculated chaos. It forces us to find our favorite characters and iconic expressions, the spotlight making sure we see Charlie Brown front and center. Everyone together just gets the tone right. I’m not saying that because Ten30 Studios‘ character sheets don’t—that’s definitely Lucy and Pig-Pen—just that these kids all deserve an equal share of the glory.

Indie faces

There are so many faces this month. But while most are very familiar, the quintet in France’s Foreign Language Oscar hopeful Mustang (limited November 20) is not. That doesn’t mean these five actresses are any less interesting than their Hollywood counterparts, though. And the from-below pose with heads together by Le Cercle Noir is enough for audiences to want to meet them.

It’s a really nice composition, almost forming a heart with the sky seen behind them. I also like its simplicity. The lace dresses of the two at bottom fade into white so the title can pop while the rest is unencumbered are ready to be focused on.

Blood & Chocolate‘s English-language version loses this clean aesthetic by putting text everywhere. The idea that the poster is about the girls is thrown out the window so that the image can be just another framed photo meaning less than what is around it. The firm thinks we’re so uninterested in the girls that they even superimpose text on top of them to basically say, “Ignore these faces and read the tag instead. That’s what’s going to hook you. Yeah!”

P+A isn’t going to cover the faces of bona fide stars like Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander. Nope, they’re going to ride their celebrity to the bank on The Danish Girl (NY/LA November 27). That doesn’t mean they’re only worth a meaningless still, however. Celebrity can be augmented by artistic flourish: the stripping down of color for a monochromatic tone definitely working towards this goal here to stand apart from any bright counterparts on the wall.

I also like the font choice of thin serifs that almost get lost against the image. Because of this our eyes go straight to the actors, intrigued by Alicia’s right eye and Eddie’s left forming a sort of hybrid face together. There’s a merging of sorts happening that piques interest before lowering our view to find the title.

The foreign example loses this by delivering a still and nothing more. They thicken the font so it grabs our attention and replace a cool pose with Eddie simply staring at us while Alicia stares at him—how romantic comedy. The color is dulled nicely, but not enough to make it anything but a photo like everything else.

For this first Carol (limited November 20) poster, the designers have done something different in showing us two characters’ vantage points in lieu of the audience’s. Rooney Mara at top and Cate Blanchett at bottom aren’t looking at us from their frame, they’re spying upon each other. It’s an effectively static split-screen that creates its own motion via periphery players blurring in between. No matter what’s going on, these two women have laser focus on each other.

I enjoy P+A’s alternate sheet with close-ups of the two—this time with Blanchett at top to coincide with her higher box office status in comparison with Mara—but it’s completely formal. The first design puts us into an action as though it’s unfolding before us. This one merely gives interesting crops of photos that say little other than who’s in the film. By making them look in opposite directions you could almost assume their relationship is adversarial. That fantastic longing of attraction able to capture attention from across the room in but a second’s time is gone.

If there’s one depiction of a face that trumps them all, it’s by far Angelina Jolie‘s on Iconisus L&Y – Visual Communication Systems‘ advert for her By the Sea (limited November 13). Oh, how I wish this thing were that golden wash of hair and nothing else—what an amazingly beautiful image. All Brad Pitt‘s scowl adds is distraction. Artistic wonder ruined by celebrity appeal.

And you can’t tell me that Pitt’s contract stated he had to be visible on the ad for it to be approved. A. Neither he not Jolie are on the teaser (a poster with equal beauty if more conservative). B. His wife wrote and directed this thing. Vanity shouldn’t be a factor above captivating viewers with something uniquely special.

The saddest part, though, is that Pitt’s inclusion probably will get more people to buy a ticket.

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