As I went to write this month’s poster analysis column, I found that – to put it bluntly – July was a dud month for film art. Oh sure, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and Bad Teacher had fun concepts, but that was it. There wasn’t even anything particularly awful apart from Beautiful Lies’ bizarre poster that looked like nothing more than a French cast off of those dire Mamma Mia designs.
Never fear though for this month we’re going to look at the best posters of the Melbourne International Film Festival. With over 200 feature films screening over 17 days, I was we could find some memorable designs and I was right! Let’s take a look at the ten best
Takeshi Miike’s bloody samurai epic gets a sublime, unexpected poster with this retro-styled animated design. Unlike most posters with a “hand drawn” aesthetic, this poster for 13 Assassins doesn’t feel like it’s immediately ripping off Drew Struzan or the classic concepts of the 1940s. It’s original with bright and bold colours and will surely do a great job of enticing cinemagoers.
Optical illusions can get you far and this one, for Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Greek film, is a doozy. It’s a twisted and contorted examination of a human body in such close-up that you can see the hairs sticking up on end, and one that probably represents Attenberg quite well. Its angular lines, abrupt typeface and colour, as well as its cryptic appearance make for a hypnotic and mesmerising poster.
There’s something very personal about this poster to Sivaroj Kongsakul’s Eternal. The way it looks like a hand-painted work of nature art that has had so much delicate attention paid to it. All those vines hanging from the trees look meticulous and deliberate. Furthermore, I love how the director has “signed” the bottom corner of the poster as if to sell a one-of-a-kind painting. Those colours are gorgeous, too, as is the pretty typeface and smoggy atmosphere. It’s quite beautiful.
Majestic and one of the year’s finest feats of key art design belongs to Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre. Those sumptuous – and rarely used – pinkish grey colours that contrast so perfectly to Mia Wasikowska’s brown hair, the subtle and inventive twist on “giant floating head” syndrome and a simple, yet literary typeface combine to make a unique poster. Unique, especially, for a genre that is hardly known for its strong marketing.
Martha Marcy May Marlene
A good poster to compare this one for Sean Durkin’s film to is Never Let Me Go, which also had a very similar sylised look, green colour scheme and character pose. Alas, whereas that one was style advertising style, the style here alludes to a much darker and disturbing film. From the evocative typeface that deteriorates as it goes, implying the disappearance of the lead character’s identity with each subsequent alter ego, to the mid-action runaway shot that give the illusion of a dangerous, thrilling horror stalking its victim. This is as dark and disturbing as a modern day poster can get.
By far the simplest poster on the list, but the layers are there behind this poster for Markus Schleinzer’s Cannes player Michael. The film deals with the very confronting subject of paedophelia and you can choose to take this poster in a multitude of ways. Is it a mere representation of childhood innocence, is it a physical representation of the way a child’s memory can be easily picked apart and put back together? Or is it even a test to viewers, as if saying “if you think this jigsaw is hard to finish, wait until you see Michael!”
“Aura would like you to know that she is having a very, very hard time.” Overly verbose, perhaps, but there’s something so wonderfully intriguing about it. While they obviously had nothing else from the film to sell it on other than an amusing film still of writer/director/star Lena Dunham in close-up surrounded by the titular tiny furniture and a funny, amusing tagline, but what they have has somehow turned into an eye-catching design that feels perfect for the mumblecore film it’s selling.
A bite of the fame apple and you’ll never be the same. Errol Morris’ exploration of the strange and bizarre life of tabloid newspaper favourite Joyce McKinney. I’m a sucker for posters that appear handmade – one of the very best is this poster for Chungking Express made of souvineers and trinkets – and the use of newspaper clippings to built up the design is inspired.
Simple? Maybe, but I adore the way this poster for Argyris Papadimitropoulos’ examination of Greek youth abandonment resembles underground cinema that its subjects would surely be seeking out in their formulative years. It almost looks like a polished Paul Morrissey/Andy Warhol film and that tagline is steamy.
This is… a poster. Yowza! If you’re going to sell your dark, thriller set amidst the world of prostitution then, I suppose, you may as well do it with a women bend over. Naturally, her legs are cross suggestively to represent the film’s title and the characters’ desires to exit the profession, but it’s the grungy lettering and underground aesthetic that makes this poster for Jon Hewitt’s film a winner. It’s the kind of film you saw on the shelves at the local video store when you were younger, knowing full well you shouldn’t be there. They say sex sells, and if that’s the case then this should make a mint.