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eXistenZ / B2 / Japan

01.03.12

Poster Poster

David Cronenberg‘s 1999 sci-fi thriller eXistenZ is not one of the director’s best, in my opinion, but it does contain typically excellent future-thinking concepts and his trademark body horror. The film is set in the near future and is focused on the idea of virtual reality gaming, far in advance of the ridiculous headgear and black plastic stands that briefly appeared in gaming arcades towards the end of the 1980s.

Jennifer Jason Leigh plays a revered game designer called Allegra Geller who is forced to flee an exhibition of her latest product when an assassin attempts to kill her using a bizarre organic gun that fires human teeth. Ted Pikul (Jude Law) works for the games company and is instructed to accompany Allegra as she escapes with her damaged product. The software is stored on a living organic pod and a connection between players is made by plugging into the system via a ‘bioport’ at the bottom of the spine (hello creepy body invasion!). Allegra and Ted must start a new game in order to determine how badly damaged the pod is and it’s not long before the line between reality and the game world blurs completely. Who is responsible for the failed assassination attempt and who can Allegra trust to save the game, and ultimately her life?

The ideas that Cronenberg explores are unquestionably interesting but the low budget nature of the film doesn’t always support them very well, particularly when it comes to the sets and environments, which are mostly all drab and uninteresting. Jude Law and Christopher Eccleston both have painfully bad American accents and some of the actors playing minor parts are terrible. You could argue that this is intentional and part of the ‘game world’ but I’m not sure they can be forgiven. The ending is also pretty cliched and frustrating. Some hail the film as a masterpiece but I’m hard-pressed to understand why.

This Japanese poster features a unique image and is significantly more interesting than the drab and misleading US one sheet (lick the light!) or the ugly UK quad. The flesh coloured shapes around the edge are organic and include human hands and other body parts. The little pink lizard in the credit area is featured in the film as a stop-motion creature.

The original trailer is on YouTube.

The Hudsucker Proxy / quad / UK

03.01.17

Poster Poster

This is the UK quad for the release of the Coen Brothers’ 1994 film The Hudsucker Proxy. The script for the film was over a decade in gestation and Joel Coen began writing it with Sam Raimi during the editing of the latter’s Evil Dead (1981). The trio began sharing a house during the filming of Raimi’s Crimewave (1985) and the brothers’ Blood Simple so the script continued to evolve. It wasn’t until the completion of Barton Fink in 1991 that the brothers decided to fully focus on it.

They decided that they wanted to work on more of a more mainstream film and felt the script needed a decent budget behind it. Legendary Hollywood producer Joel Silver, who was a fan of the brothers’ previous films, agreed to help them and pitched it to Warner Bros. Further financial backing came from the now defunct PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, a British-American production company responsible for some of the biggest box-office hits of the 1980s and 1990s, including Batman (1989) and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). Note their logo in a prominent position on the left side of the credit block.

The film marked the first time the Coens had worked with big name stars, with most of their previous casts made up of relative unknowns (many of whom would go on to find fame afterwards). Set in 1958 in the world of big business, the story sees idealistic business school graduate Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) arrive in New York City looking for a job. Without the necessary experience he ends up working as a mailroom clerk in a manufacturing company called Hudsucker Industries. When the founder and president Waring Hudsucker commits suicide during a business meeting (a classic scene involving an open window) the nefarious chairman of the board, Sidney J. Mussburger (Paul Newman) realises that all of Hudsucker’s shares are to be sold to the public. 

Mussburger hatches a plan to buy the stock at what will be a knockdown price by installing what he sees as an incompetent in the top role, the titular proxy, hoping to depress the share price. Whilst delivering mail one day, Norville makes a pitch to Mussburger that involves a simple drawing of a ring (“Y’know for kids!”) and the latter thinks he has found the perfect person. Things don’t go exactly to plan when the board agree to produce Norville’s idea, which turns out to be the phenomenally successful hula hoop (invented for real in 1958). Meanwhile, an undercover reporter called Amy Archer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) has joined the firm as Norville’s secretary hoping to write a juicy article on the man who replaced Hudsucker. She soon discovers the details of the plot but has a hard time convincing her superiors. Norville allows success to go to his head and begins acting like any other uncaring tycoon. However, Mussburger discovers Amy’s real identity and uses this against him. The finale takes place at the top of the firm’s tower, as depicted on this poster, and sees the Coens at their most surreal.

This UK quad features a design that has clearly borrowed from the US one sheet (see here) with an enterprising British designer reusing the image of Tim Robbins holding the hula hoop and replacing the hoop with wads of dollar bills. The same images of Paul Newman and Jennifer Jason Leigh are reused and the cogs seen on the one sheet are also present. If anyone has any ideas who designed it please get in touch.

Flesh and Blood / quad / UK

29.07.15

Poster Poster
Title
Flesh and Blood
AKA
Flesh+Blood (alt. spelling)
Year of Film
1985
Director
Paul Verhoeven
Starring
Rutger Hauer, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Burlinson, Jack Thompson, Fernando Hilbeck, Susan Tyrrell, Ronald Lacey, Brion James
Origin of Film
Spain | USA | Netherlands
Genre(s) of Film
Rutger Hauer, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Burlinson, Jack Thompson, Fernando Hilbeck, Susan Tyrrell, Ronald Lacey, Brion James,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1985
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown artist - based on artwork by Renato Casaro
Size (inches)
30 3/16" x 39 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
A timeless adventure, a passion for wealth and power. Only the strongest will survive.

This is the British quad for the release of Dutch director Paul Verhoeven‘s first English language film, Flesh and Blood (sometimes referred to as Flesh+Blood). Verhoeven had been making films with subsidies from the Dutch government but things had been proving difficult due to the controversial subject matter of his stories so he decided to seek financial backing from a Hollywood studio. The now defunct Orion Pictures stumped up most of the budget for Flesh and Blood and had asked the director for a war film after seeing the celebrated Soldier of Orange. Verhoeven had nothing prepared in that genre so he worked hastily with a regular collaborator, the screenwriter Gerard Soeteman, to adapt some unused material from their TV series Floris, which was set during the Middle-Ages. Verhoeven would later rue the decision to allow Orion to insist on script changes that added a romantic interest to the story.

Set in Italy in 1501, the film features the Dutch actor Rutger Hauer, who had worked with Verhoeven several times before (including on Floris), as Martin, the leader of a band of mercenaries who are asked to help Lord Arnolfini (Fernando Hilbeck) retake his city that was captured whilst he was away. After successfully storming and recapturing it the mercenaries are initially told they can ransack the houses of the richest inhabitants of the city, but Arnolfini then changes his mind and orders his army to march the mercenaries from the city without the bounty that was agreed. The group vow to take their revenge and when Arnolfini’s son Steven (Tom Burlinson) leaves the castle to meet Agnes (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a noblewoman who has been betrothed to him, the mercenaries strike. After attacking the caravan and badly wounding Arnolfini, they kidnap Agnes and ride away with her. Eventually they end up at a castle where they hole-up and attempt to see off any attempts to rescue Agnes, who is seemingly falling in love with Martin.

Although it features moments of humour, Verhoeven’s intention was to show that the Middle-Ages weren’t as glamorous and pleasant as had been depicted in previous films, so he doesn’t shy away from casual violence, filth and degradation. Agnes in particular is subjected to a humiliating ordeal at the hands of the mercenaries, effectively ending up as their plaything later in the film. There’s plenty of blood-letting too with some battle scenes that are not for the faint hearted. Apparently the production was beset with problems, including an uncooperative international crew who were often drunk or under the influence of drugs, as well as a giant rift that opened up between Verhoeven and Hauer because the actor wanted to build a career as a heroic leading man, but the director wanted his character to be more ambiguous and at times unpleasant. The resulting film is definitely uneven and at times confusing, but is nevertheless engaging. Hauer in particular injects his scenes with plenty of wild energy and Jennifer Jason Leigh is memorable as the sensuous Agnes. Unfortunately Orion botched the American release and the film apparently flopped quickly. Verhoeven would later say he felt that he’d probably made the film too cynical and downbeat for audiences to take.

This artwork was adapted by an unknown British artist from an original piece of art by the Italian artist Renato Casaro, which was originally painted for the German poster. Notable changes include the position of the characters, which widened for this quad, plus the smaller figure of Hauer is also markedly different. One of my favourite artists, Renato Casaro had a prolific movie poster output that lasted over 35 years. He began his career in 1953, aged 19, at the famous Studio Favalli in Rome and would go on to design and paint posters for many of the biggest directors in the world. His skill at accurately portraying actors and his brilliant use of colour and composition saw him much in demand from studios and actors alike. His artwork has featured on posters used in multiple countries, including Japan, Germany, USA as well as in his native Italy.

Check out the incredible amount of work on his official website here, which also features a biography of the artist. In March 2014 I published an exclusive interview with Renato and it can be read by clicking here. The other posters I’ve collected by Renato Casaro are here.

Fast Times / quad / UK

18.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Fast Times
AKA
Fast Times At Ridgemont High (USA) | Viver Depressa [Live fast] (Portugal)
Year of Film
1982
Director
Amy Heckerling
Starring
Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Brian Backer, Robert Romanus, Lana Clarkson, Ray Walston, Forest Whitaker, Nicolas Cage
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Brian Backer, Robert Romanus, Lana Clarkson, Ray Walston, Forest Whitaker, Nicolas Cage,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1983
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
30" x 39 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
Fast girls, Fast cars, Fast carrots.... Fast carrots?

Fast Times At Ridgemont High / one sheet / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Fast Times
AKA
Fast Times (UK) | Viver Depressa [Live fast] (Portugal)
Year of Film
1982
Director
Amy Heckerling
Starring
Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Brian Backer, Robert Romanus, Lana Clarkson, Ray Walston, Forest Whitaker, Nicolas Cage
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Brian Backer, Robert Romanus, Lana Clarkson, Ray Walston, Forest Whitaker, Nicolas Cage,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1982
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27" x 40 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
820109
Tagline
It's Awesome! Totally Awesome! | At Ridgemont High Only the Rules get Busted!

Road To Perdition / one sheet / style A / international

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Road To Perdition
AKA
Era mio padre [He was my father] (Italy)
Year of Film
2002
Director
Sam Mendes
Starring
Tom Hanks, Tyler Hoechlin, Rob Maxey, Paul Newman, Liam Aiken, Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Daniel Craig, Ciarán Hinds
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Tom Hanks, Tyler Hoechlin, Rob Maxey, Paul Newman, Liam Aiken, Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Daniel Craig, Ciarán Hinds,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Style A
Origin of Poster
International
Year of Poster
2002
Designer
Pulse Advertising
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27" x 40"
SS or DS
DS
NSS #
--
Tagline
Pray for Michael Sullivan

The Hitcher / quad / UK

18.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
The Hitcher
AKA
--
Year of Film
1986
Director
Robert Harmon
Starring
Rutger Hauer, C. Thomas Howell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jeffrey DeMunn, John M. Jackson, Billy Green Bush, Jack Thibeau, Armin Shimerman, Gene Davis
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Rutger Hauer, C. Thomas Howell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jeffrey DeMunn, John M. Jackson, Billy Green Bush, Jack Thibeau, Armin Shimerman, Gene Davis,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1986
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
29 15/16" x 39 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
He came from hell. Don't ask him where he wants to go!

The Hitcher / B2 / Japan

17.05.11

Poster Poster

The Hudsucker Proxy / one sheet / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
The Hudsucker Proxy
AKA
Mister Hula Hoop (Italy)
Year of Film
1994
Director
Joel Coen
Starring
Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Newman, Charles Durning, John Mahoney, Jim True-Frost, Bill Cobbs, Bruce Campbell, Harry Bugin, John Seitz, Joe Grifasi
Origin of Film
UK | Germany | USA
Genre(s) of Film
Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Newman, Charles Durning, John Mahoney, Jim True-Frost, Bill Cobbs, Bruce Campbell, Harry Bugin, John Seitz, Joe Grifasi,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1994
Designer
Concept Arts
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27" x 40 3/16"
SS or DS
DS
NSS #
--
Tagline
They took him for a fall guy... but he threw them for a hoop. | A Comedy of Invention.