Inspired by my good friend Adrian Curry, whose Movie Posters of the Decade post over at The Auteurs led critic (and Twitter fiend) Roger Ebert to issue forth a "bleh" (and then respond with his own choices), I thought I'd join in on the fun and put together a post on posters as well.
Yet rather than "best" or "favorite" I decided to focus on films and/or posters that aren't as well known here in the States -- things I saw at film festivals, or in a Paris Metro station, a billboard in Shinjuku, etc. Others I simply stumbled upon online.
Not all of these are great films. Some are quite bad, in fact. Also, I'm not making any claims as to the design quality of these posters -- some might violate every rule or standard -- but each of them caught my attention (sometimes for embarrassingly simple reasons) and remained memorable enough for me to recall them for this little divertissement.
Where applicable, I've made some attempts at grouping them either by theme or style, but please don't read too much into that. It's simply an alternative from the numbered list approach.
Oh, one or two are NSFW so you might want to think twice before peeking below the fold. Then again, who has W anymore?
Les Plus Belles Femmes...
Another tale of l'amour fou from director Christophe Honoré, but this time set in high school. It's nowhere near as interesting as Love Songs or Dans Paris, but there's something about the poster -- is it the red background or simply the haunting Léa Seydoux and her disembodied head? Come to think of it, this might just be a bit of poor Photoshopping. Regardless, there was something about seeing this plastered all over Paris that left its mark. Bonus bit of trivia - actress Léa Seydoux can be seen, briefly, in Inglourious Basterds, playing one of the farmer's daughters in the opening sequence.
Speaking of Photoshop, there's a bit too much magic applied to Julie Sokolowski's skin (see comparison here), but I guess the designer wanted to give an angelic, ethereal look to the young actress who gets her Christ on in this magnificent film. Look -- she's staring right at you, but thinking of him...
Pas Douce (2007)
Though not quite as inappropriate as the The Death of Mr. Lazarescu poster that Adrian referenced, this one for Jeanne Waltz's film is both extremely odd and misleading. A drama about the relationship between a young woman (Isild Le Besco) and the teenager she cripples during a failed suicide attempt is here marketed like....what...a magazine cover? A deodorant ad? The poster may say nothing about the film, but there's something spontaneous and natural about it that works. Bonus points for using a somewhat unflattering picture of Le Besco.
The title translates as Anger, and boy is this little girl guilty of that. The credits pouring out of her mouth is certainly a unique design choice. Seeing this poster all over the Potsdamer Platz had its desired effect -- it became one of my most anticipated films of the festival. A shame that it was such a disappointment.
Has the world ever known a better screamer than Klaus Kinski? He does a lot of it in this film, a recorded document of his attempt to read his own version of the New Testament to a 1970 Berlin audience who weren't about to accept Klaus' vision of their lord. The title treatment (font, 3D effect) on the poster is kitsch-perfection.
Philippe Grandrieux's mind-fuck of a film is as jittery, blurry, and disconcerting as its poster. See that image? Imagine that for 102 minutes. I hated it when I first saw it in 2002, but seeing again last year it suddenly became a near-masterpiece.
Two by Thome
It's a mystery why German director Rudolf Thome is virtually unknown in this country. His 60s and 70s films are the epitome of cool (Detective, Red Sun, Strange City), and even now at 70 years old he hasn't lost his touch. Pink, a subversive romcom about a punk poetess is one of the best undistributed films of 2009, and this poster, with its tabloid texturing effect is as incredible as the film itself.
Perhaps better paired with Un Couple Parfait (see below), but included here for the Thome-love. A brutally detailed study of the disintegration of a relationship between two passionate artists, the poster for the film looks more like a German book cover, but it's more than fitting as Thome takes a decidedly novelistic approach to the drama.
For the Love of Negative Space
Hans-Christian Schmid's documentary about German laundry washed in Poland is less compelling than it sounds, but this action shot of freshly-washed linen being folded is a thing of beauty.
The aforementioned Adrian Curry has been trying to get me to see this film for over two years now, and though I have a screener, I've never found the time watch it. Strange, considering that Pen-Ek Ratanaruang's Last Life in the Universe was my favorite film of 2004. The question is, can the film possibly live up to this poster, which might very well be my favorite of the bunch.
Though this omnibus film boasts an impressive roster of directors, all I can remember about it is this poster. A result of late-festival burnout, for sure.
Sex (Or Something Like It) Sells!
Lips turned vertically -- a vagina dentata fantasy/nightmare? Subtle it's not, but neither is this empty bit of provocation disguised as a film.
A filmed performance of an actors workshop...a series of twelve vignettes about couples...shot in only four days. Never mind all that...just admire the décolletage.
I'm going to lift wholesale the description from IMDB, for it doesn't get much better than this: "The kidnapping of a plump billionaire's dog by a deaf-mute and two ketamine addicts goes wrong." I saw this black & white Bunuelian comedy very early in the morning at the European Film Market -- not the wisest choice pre-caffeine. The poster speaks for itself though.
All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun. And a nursing infant. Check out Amber Wilkinson's excellent review of this Jarmuschian comedy at Eye for Film.
...and the rest
This grammatically questionable ad campaign from Japan for the second part of Tarantino's epic was so much more interesting than its American equivalent.
The poster for Antonio Banderas' second directorial effort (remember Crazy in Alabama?) has a wonderful 70s-retro vibe to it, which makes sense as the film is a period piece. However, like the poster itself, the film is pure style over substance.
Appropriately enough, this poster for Koji Wakamatsu's masterpiece looks more like a bit of agitprop than it does a film advert. The odd tagline in English and Arabic is a nice touch.
What I love about this poster is the story it seems to tell. A man and a woman. A platform at a rail station. No train in sight, it must be a parting. A look of despondency on the woman's face. The man - a figure all in black, no discernible details. A perfect couple? I'm going to watch this film again right now.
Another case of "they got the better poster". With its vintage feel and album-cover image, this French version is far more captivating than the 'That's All Folks' Looney Tunes-esque concentric circles of the American design
Last but not least, the eyes have it. I absolutely loathed this film, but adored the poster. The question remains -- is it paying homage to this: