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Posterized September 2019: ‘Ad Astra,’ ‘IT Chapter Two,’ ‘The Death of Dick Long,’ and More

Written by on September 4, 2019 

How low can you go

Despite the interesting angle of a painting covered in ash, eclipse’s The Goldfinch (September 13) is very much a tease. Content is thrown out the window (it’s based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning book so fans won’t need more than the title) as the cast list takes the spotlight instead. Director? Nope. Author? Nope. Ansel Elgort is king.

I think sometimes we get excited for a teaser because it has the potential to do something wild when really it doesn’t need to do more than its job. Will this sheet stay with us? Probably not. But it will put the title in our consciousness so subsequent designs can.

Is that the case here, though? It’s a no from me as Oakes Fegley jumping does little more than replace the painting as a mildly more captivating visual. The title is still the sole source of color besides that image and the cast list is still a focal point above any other behind the camera artists. It does tell us that the release date got moved up, however—so that’s good.

F Ron Miller’s Midnight Traveler (limited September 18) does a bit better as it creates something with its unique vantage point. It’s as though the person at bottom is standing on tiptoes to peer into a camera as the nighttime scene of a refugee camp (prison?) continues moving behind them. There’s a simultaneous sense of danger and fun, freedom and imprisonment. It’s a world of contradictions pushed down by the hopeful blue sky of the title.

For pure dread, look no further than Concept Arts’ teaser for It: Chapter 2 (September 6). You don’t need more than Bill Skarsgård’s creepy eyes to feel the chill of sinister malice run down your spine. That the white space at top can double as an aesthetic choice and Pennywise’s giant forehead only gives the poster greater appeal as an ingenious crop utilizing what’s available to create its optimal mood.

I like cold open’s theatrical sheet with its pair of balloons signifying the chapter number, but the lack of those eyes forces it to lose something in the translation. This is more Santa Claus than Pennywise thanks to that oversized sleeve. I’m a big proponent for less is more, but removing the hand and adding a reflected face instead might have been the better choice.

Nothing beats Legion Creative Group’s Monos (limited September 13) where mood and texture are concerned, though. It’s like a painting with swirling brushstrokes photographed on old stock with weathered scratches added to the surface. That there’s an actual scene beneath of a horse walking down a mountaintop is almost an after thought since it seamlessly merges its silhouette with the disintegrating edge of a page in flames. This thing operates on multiple levels at once to challenge our perspective and linger much longer than the bubbling title succumbing to that fire will.

It’s a huge step up from the Spanish language poster and its desire to combine two scenes together with shallow focus and sparks acting as filters for intrigue. What was implied is now literal and the distress we felt gazing upon the former is all but erased.


Cream of the crop

BLT Communications, LLC supplies what might be the most entertaining poster of the month courtesy of their tan-lined piggy bank for The Laundromat (limited September 27). It really doesn’t matter if this imagery alludes to the plot or not as its existence piques interest all on its own. That this added level does succeed is merely a bonus—laundering the money of the rich through a Panama City law firm as sun and sand risks burning you. I just hope the smile on my face now remains while watching.

The English language sheet for Manta Ray (MUBI September 26) might be the month’s most beautiful as the black and white animals swim amongst amorphous orbs of color, their shadows providing a double exposure effect that renders the textured foreground even more delicately complex. I don’t even care that the title font is nearly illegible since its proximity to the object it describes is enough to parse the letters together.

It’s a testament to the designer too that it works so well when the French language iteration is almost as gorgeous with a completely different visual direction. Here we get an actor swimming amongst the evening light glares blurred in the distance that have also inched forward to surround him as though caught in a dream. The title removes its experimental font of using just two types of vertical shapes for greater readability and a smoother transition with its curved slopes being devoid of sharp edges. And the color palette is absolutely magical.

For Daniel Fumero’s Chained for Life (limited September 11), the magic comes from his ability to use refraction and fragmentation to create a metaphoric overlap of beauty and “beast.” What at first seems like a shattered mirror putting Jess Weixler and Adam Pearson in frame together is soon revealed as the product of glare. Or is it? The edges from one part of a face to the next are nonexistent, the fuzz almost alluding to the fact that no division exists.

It’s truly a stunning piece of art done in by a stray line of text at the top. I’m sure there was a reason to jut Aaron Schimberg’s credit out to the right (differences and all), but it’s the sole piece not on its center axis. Rather than be tastefully offset, it becomes a sore thumb sticking out like someone screaming, “Look at me!”

And speaking of such a declaration, P+A’s entire layout for The Death of Dick Long (limited September 27) is exactly that. Why? Because the name makes it so we cannot think the figure at the bottom released a firework with his hands. No. It’s definitely coming from his genitals and the thought is about as head-scratching a concept as you could expect from one half of the Swiss Army Man directing duo.

Despite that flight of fancy, however, the poster itself is elegantly composed. Everything lines up at center, the title is a regal serif with purposeful leading, and the coloring is as in-your-face with its brightness as it is precise with its detailed smoke trails. This traditional beauty is intentional too since it legitimizes the insane act it has immortalized for all to see. Handling this scene with such care ensures we take it seriously. That’s part of the joke.

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

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