Sunday, August 19, 2007

This or That? Lust, Caution

The Asian and the American posters respectively for the forthcoming Ang Lee picture Lust, Caution .

I'm a loudmouth about my own opinions if I have a strong one. In this case... not so sure. Speaking very generally I'd say I prefer international posters to American ones. They take more chances and they are less beholden to the "sell the star!" mandate --either that or I'm just not as inured to their dominant clichés. Both posters feel less satisfying than hoped for what must be seen as one of the Fall's most promising features.

They use similar diagonal lines but aside from that they differ quite heavily. The Asian poster definitely casts Tony Leung as the protagonist. Even though he's backgrounded, the obscuring of Tang Wei's face and the emphasis on her body pushes her into the "lust" portion of the title and reads like a typical example of cinema's male gaze. you're in Tony's shoes there. He's your proxy. You're lusting for Wei together. Unfortunately the general composition makes me think of the Basic Instinct 2 poster. That's not a pleasant field of vision for the mind's eye to have strolled into while its guard was down. Look away! Look away!

I like the stylized more postery feel of the American version better except for that it feels so hesistant. There might be lust and/or caution between the man and woman but it's not coming through. They could just as easily be casual acquaintances in an elevator with unusually moody lighting. Or maybe they're business rivals/partners waiting to enter a boardroom for a big presentation. Whatever they are, an arm crossing the body doesn't invite the onlooker like, say, a womanly silhouette leaning backwards.

Do you know what either of these posters are selling? Are you buying?


J.D. said...

The American! No, the Taiwanese! No, the American! No, the... [head explodes]

Anonymous said...

I quite like the American poster, to my surprise. There's a great degree of mystery to it (must proceed with caution), and there's something very elegant from it (which is missing in the Asian poster, imo). The American poster looks like an Ang Lee film.

Neel Mehta said...

Both posters borrow elements from In the Mood for Love -- namely, the green dress and the beige wall. Of course, that poster looked better than either option presented here.

Anonymous said...

All the imagery I'd seen of this film to date - and the casting of Leung - made me think this was going to be some IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE wannabe.

I can see from the trailer though that there's a much stronger narrative emphasis than I expected. The plot seems to take the 'woman is the subtlest weapon in war' theme that was also in CHARLOTTE GRAY / SHINING THROUGH / BLACK BOOK, and add a touch of forbidden eroticism a la Malle's DAMAGE.

Observation 1: It's funny how trailers for foreign language films avoid dialogue like the plague. They produce extremely music video-like trailers.

Observation 2: The placement of the 'From Ang Lee' titlecard in the middle of two other descriptive title cards on the trailer is hilarious. 'She was a given an extraordinarily dangerous mission... From Ang Lee... Director of Brokeback Mountain...'

Observation 3: Great to see Tony Leung and Joan Chen in a major film. And Tang Wei looks like she could be quite a charismatic new star... who doesn't wish though that the whole thing wasn't about a film director (Leung), married to his regular leading lady (Maggie Cheung), who gives in to the temptations of a new, seemingly-innocent ingenue (Faye Wong)... now there's a lust to be cautious of!

Very much looking forward to Alexandre Desplat's score above all.

- The Wong Kar Wai-loving Luhrman-hating Australian

Anonymous said...

Random comment:

In the Chinese poster, all of the Chinese characters go from left to right except for the title. So that's weird. Anyhow, just thought I would point that out. Both posters look nice.

Glenn Dunks said...

I'm not a fan of either of them. THey just don't *POP* to me. My head has figuratively exploded a few times this year over certain posters though (American Gangster and Bug predominantly).

Anonymous said...

hmmm, I'm not sure, I don't really like either. I don't know if I'll be seeing this one, I really didn't like Brokeback Mountain ( it was boring).

Boyd said...

I don't feel this film... yet. I really trust Lee and have liked everything he's done so far (even Hulk!) but the trailer, the poster and even the title of Lust,Caution simply fail to get me excited. I hope it's just a case of the-film-is-so-complex-you-can't-
or-a-two-minute-trailer, which has happened before (The Ice Storm, anyone...)

Glenn Dunks said...

I love the title. As movie titles go they're usually "THE _______" or "[PLACE WHERE MOVIE IS SET]"

But, yeah, the posters aren't really inspiring. And if it weren't for Ang Lee they wouldn't be getting me into the cinema.

Deborah said...

You picked up on my very thoughts about the Asian poster. I, too, often prefer European posters (especially Japanese and Polish). But this particular poster is objectifying; the woman is the headless object of a male gaze, with all that headlessness (let alone objectification) implies. The green is jagged and unattractive. She's not even beautified, she's just diminished.

The American poster is more equal, but not fascinating; more Caution than Lust. I wonder if it isn't playing on "foreignness" in a sort of Suzie Wong way.

NicksFlickPicks said...

I'm with Boyd. Nothing is selling me on this movie. I'd perk up a little if they called it Crouching Lust, Hidden Caution.

Boyd said...

I'd perk up a little if they called it Crouching Lust, Hidden Caution.


Eat Drink, Man Woman = Good title that gets an association of ideas going.

Lust, Caution sounds like two studio executives fought over one word titles and finally came up with this terrible compromise.

Anonymous said...

'Lust, Caution' sounds like a line from a Mandarin poem or a four-character phrase (sizi chengyu) translated. For that reason, it's never bothered me.

- The Mandarin-speaking Luhrman-hating Australian