Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Posterized: Rabbit Hole & The King's Speech. What Are They Telling Us?

If you've been wondering what happened to the Posterized series, it comes down to this: A month or so back, I had been reading the book The Art of Drew Struzan -- he's the artist who used to do all those painted posters for Spielberg films and the first Harry Potter and so on -- and while reading it is I was preparing a "posterized: ben affleck" article. Ben Affleck movies, as it turns out, have hatefully ugly posters (no offense Ben, you're a handsome fella). So I didn't finish it. Too disheartening. Have to rethink that series. We still like the idea of movie posters, just not the reality so often, so they shan't go without comment.

Let's look at a few relative newbies.

The more we think about The King's Speech, the more we worry for The Social Network. (Seriously.. We'll see what happens with the precursor awards. Will critics rally like they have lately for one film, or will the votes be divvied up between a few darlings?). Speech was the easiest Oscar call to make back in the first round of predictions (April 1st) since it's one of those movies: The kind that wouldn't exist at all if there weren't such things as gold statues to be won.

But what to make of the poster? One supposes it's adequately conveyed what it needed to. If it were a personal ad it would be like so:
Weinsteinian 3some Seeks AMPAS Swingers to Cuddle. We're serious-minded but totally not stuffy; We could be elitist (the royal We!) but we're populist at heart, like you!  If you enjoy endearing peculiarities and good-hearted companions, have a sherry and join us for exuberant conversation (some stammering) and light role-play (WW II reenactments!).
Will you date that movie or is that the most boring poster you've ever seen? And why do their faces all have differently light sources? Couldn't Colin, Helena and Geoffrey at least pose for the poster together? I mean, you had them all in the same room several times for weeks. Damn you, Photoshop!

The Rabbit Hole marketing team has a trickier sell. They've got a bigger star to work with (Nic') but they can't really sell it as a star vehicle since it's prestige drama and public reaction to her tends to be so divisive. I like what they've done, though. Though I write about the theater far more than any other movie blog, I'm not well versed with this particular play, so I only know that it's about a couple who've lost a toddler. But that tire is pretty haunting and easy to project feeling onto, even if you know nothing about the material. The rope is unsettling too in its noose-like way. But before you get too depressed, there's that pastel blue sky and transparent type suggesting spirituality rather than emotionally pornographic gloom. Smart move, yes?

Or is it too calming like those anti-depressant ads on TV. Abilify!

I'm including these two posters to illustrate the marked difference between posters that have actual creative joy/heft [only allowed in "teaser" form] and posters that someone created at their desk only because they are given paychecks to do so. Now, it may well be that, as movies, Tyler Perry's For Colored Girls is terrible whilst Peter Weir's The Way Back is great (This is surely the first time in the history of the world that anyone has ever compared Tyler Perry to Peter Weir: enjoy.) but if that's the case, their movie's one-sheets tell the exact opposite story.

Floating movie star heads may well be the bane of movie posters for the past three decades, but stripes have been torturing us for nearly as long, now. It's weird that Hollywood loves them; horizontal stripes make you look fat!


The Pretentious Know it All said...

The King's Speech poster is pretty boring, as is the tagline. I don't want to come down too hard on a movie that I have yet to see, but I'm annoyed that the Weinteins are going to get my ten dollars. Morbid curiosity in the Oscar race that TKS is destined to be a part of prohibits me from skipping it altogether (though I've still yet to see Frost/Nixon and the world did not end). It just seems so average and so besides-the-point. If you're going to do period and costume, fine. But don't do it just for awards posturing. Take a cue from the best of the Merchant-Ivory area and have it MEAN something, ya know?

Tangent: I really hope The King's Speech doesn't squeak by as a middle of the road best picture winner. Just please, please Academy...give this one to Fincher. Ironically, some good came out of the 2008 BP race because had it not been for Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button would have won and tainted Fincher (at least in my mind) forever. That film proved that there's a good chance Fincher will never be simultaneously great AND in the Oscar zone. Take the opportunity with The Social Network and call it a day.

James T said...

Why are you worried about The Social Network? Do you want it to win? You haven't seen everything yet (For example: The King's Speech. Though I doubt you'll like it that much).

I'm not a big fan of any of these posters though I appreciate the effort in the "For Colored Girls" one and you made me like the "Rabbit Hole" one a bit more. Which is kinda like admitting that the advertisers fooled me ;)

Speaking of Nicole and theater, do you think you'll go see her in Sweet Bird of Youth? How weird is it that I get excited over news like this when I live light years away from New York? I'm so jealous of you even if I know Broadway is expensive. But, really, Kidman. live. Tennessee Williams?? Wow!

Sorry for the tone in the first paragraph. I just didn't love Social Network and can't help being bitter and then apologise. #igotissues

James T said...

Oh, and, The King's Speech now has one more poster. I like it much better than the first one and NOT because HBC is absent.

Caroline said...

The King's Speech's poster is worse than boring, it is a legitimate disaster. The goofy grins. The awkward poses. The awful, catastrophic tagline. This is probably the worst poster I've seen all year.


james t -- i almost never get to see the shows that have super short runs (because it's hard to get discounts)

Jenn said...

slightly OT and don't know if you knew this, but The Hollywood Reporter did an Award Watch roundtable interview with six of our favorite actresses, here: Pretty interesting.

adelutza said...

I don't know why the people are so against The King's Speech. It's a quite entertaining movie with all the obvious Oscar baits in it. But it is well done, well acted. What, The Social Network? Fine. There are 10 spots. I don't think that in ten years time people are going to remember either. Talk about Blue Valentine. Or I Am Love. Or The Tillman Story. Or The Kids Are All Right even if it's more mainstream than people think just because it deals with a gay family.
I think that The King's Speech deals with a real issue that existed in history, regardless if we think today that is Oscar bait or not.These people really existed , you know?

Glenn said...

Adelutza, I imagine a lot of it has to do with the thought of Harvey Weinstein winning for a British royalty prestige piece. It's like the most cliched winner of all time, and yet all reports say it's an amazing movie.

As for the poster, it is bland and everything looks so old and boring. At least the names are in accordance to their faces!

However, as bad as that one is, nothing can compare to the poster for The Way Back! Or should that be The WAY Back since "Way" is over-enforced to a wild degree. My curse of stripey movie posters doesn't appear to have worked.

MRRIPLEY said...

re posterizd how about JULIA ROBERTS!!!

Andrew R. said...

King's Speech-The boringness of this poster is just amazing. I like Firth's facial expression, though. He looks paralyzed.

But for the doubters of this won the Audience Award at Telluride. They normally have good taste.

And to those who think Social Network is too current, I disagree. The Internet is here to stay, and if FaceBook fails in a few years, Fincher can just remove those titles from the end and it will be even more poignant because he lost it all. And if it stays forever, then it'll stay relevant!

Rabbit Hole's poster, IMO, is just as bland as the trailer, although the tire is pretty nice.

For Colored Girls has a very attractive marketing campaign going on, despite the film looking really bad.

The Way Back is the opposite. Stripes! Ooooooh!

Angel said...

I have to agree that The King's Speech was utterly boring. Sorry to say but it has bad direction.

Movie lists and reviews

Bryan said...

Even if Nicole does struggle with the public, I still think it was gutsy for them to (mostly) not use Kidman's face.

Thomas said...

Didn't Cynthia Nixon win a Tony for Rabbit Hole?

Jorge Rodrigues said...

Lazy work for THE KING'S SPEECH (the film in itself is already difficult to sell to younger audiences - nevertheless, this is not its audience at all as well) and a terrible, awful poster. But let's not forget that THE SOCIAL NETWORK also has a horrible poster.

FOR COLORED GIRLS is at least inspired; not beautiful, but since they obviously tried hard, I'll let them slide.

And RABBIT HOLE... I can't say I love it, nor can I say I hate it. It's in the inbetween. Love Kidman's projection on the movie title, hate the tire.

THE WAY BACK has so much going against it that I don't even need to discuss: 4 floating heads; horizontal stripes; "inspired by real events" slogan; "their escape was just the beginning" - typical tagline for a true story/inspirational/envolving war and escaping prisoners. GAH.

And today came the teaser poster for THE TREE OF LIFE (, guess what, it's AWFUL as well. Gah. Why can't Terrence Malick have a beautiful poster in his filmography? Pff.

Dimitra said...

Maybe with all that bashing, they'll release a new poster for The King's Speech.

I really like Rabbit Hole and For Colored Girls.

The Way Back is ok, nothing special.

Jorge, come on, it's not that bad. It's actually pretty good IMO.


Dimitra & Jorge -- at least it's not a huge floating Brad Pitt head.

George P. said...

I've always LOVED the "teaser" posters for Tyler Perry's films, because they really are so creative/pretty. But alas, they are always pushed aside for the typical so-so theatrical poster.