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Behind the scenes of Return of the Jedi






The best movie & TV posters of 2017



The best posters of 2017 were for the TV series Stranger Things.

Stranger Things

Not too many posters these days are illustrated. There was a time when all posters were, but that time ended with the advent of Photoshop where photos of the actors could be used in lieu of having an artist draw/paint them. But recently that’s changed a bit, especially with the company Mondo creating old-school illustrated posters. And to a certain extent Hollywood’s followed their lead and has produced a number of illustrated posters for big-budget movies. So it’s no surprise an outlet like Netflix would have one of their shows feature an illustrated poster too. What is surprising is how well the illustrated poster for Stranger Things turned out. Illustrator Kyle Lambert created this poster and the attention to detail on it is astounding. This poster manages to be both modern and have a classic 1980s movie poster touch at the same time.

I also like the non-illustrated posters for Stranger Things too. They all work together well as a set and evoke the theme of the series in just a few images.

Thor: Ragnarok

The posters for Thor: Ragnarok shouldn’t work, but they really do. The colors of them are hyper acidic and I get a sugar high just looking at them. I think what makes these posters work is that they still look like the standard Marvel movie posters, but because of the choice to use these colors make them unlike any Marvel movie poster that’s come before. I know I’ve always said I judge the best posters of the year based on whether or not I’d like to have them hanging on the walls of my office. But the posters for Thor: Ragnarok might be the exception to the rule. I adore these posters, but having to stare at them every day on the wall my be too much for my weak psyche to take.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Much like with the posters for Thor: Ragnarok, the posters for Star Wars: The Last Jedi don’t look like any other Star Wars poster I can think of yet still feel like posters for a Star Wars movie. To me the standard Star Wars poster has a bunch of characters on either black or white, and if the movie came out pre–2015 was probably illustrated by Drew Struzan. Except the posters for Star Wars: The Last Jedi look nothing like this. From the teaser poster to character to final, they have characters colored red on a while background. Which makes these posters totally different in the pantheon of Star Wars yet none-the-less still amazing.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

I’ve been in love with the playful designs of the Spider-Man: Homecoming posters since they started dropping earlier this year. These posters look like they’re capturing discrete moments in Peter Parker’s life balancing things as your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man like hiding clothes in a backpack or getting ready to leap off a tall building along with being a regular New York teenager. I especially like one of the posters where Spider-Man is framed perfectly in the center of the image but the background is askew. The first time I saw it and noticed that, and realized the angle that Spider-Man’s really at and it literally made me a bit dizzy.

Star Trek: Discovery

I don’t know if it’s the colors, the blocky typography or the design of the USS Discovery on the poster, but I’ve been a big fan of the teaser poster for Star Trek: Discovery every since it debuted last summer.

Wonder Woman

I really wanted to include the teaser poster for Wonder Woman last year, but I like to include posters for movies in my best of review that premier in the same year as the review. So I sat on this poster for a long time. It’s so simple, with just a near-silhouette of Wonder Woman over an orange and blue sky with the words “Power Grace Wisdom Wonder” below. It’s practically the perfect poster for this movie.

Ghost in the Shell

The Ghost in the Shell movie might have been a disappointment at the box office, but this poster is anything but. It features star Scarlett Johansson becoming invisible via a suit utilizing futuristic technology over the garish neon-infested city the movie takes place in.

Legion

The poster for the FX series Legion, which features the mind of the main character of the series exploding into a nebulous pink/blue mass is the perfect summation for the awesome-weirdness that is this show.

Blade Runner: 2049

It’s interesting to see how the designers for the posters to Blade Runner: 2049 handled things since Ghost in the Shell deals with many of the same themes this film does. Here, they chose to focus on the main characters of the movie like Ghost in the Shell, but to present them in such a way that their photos are totally colored either an intense orange or blue with just the actor’s name and movie title below.

The Dark Tower

The minute I realized I was looking at a city upside down with the negative space of the sky actually forming another city outline from below with the characters of the movie standing in the sky as it were made this poster go from “oh well” to “oh WOW!” for me.




Direct Beam Comms #97



TV

Mindhunter

If David Fincher wasn’t such an all-around great director, one of the best working in the business, I’d be a bit worried that the guy would be type… err – …cast as only a director of movies featuring serial killers. His first film of note Seven featured a serial killer who murdered people based on the “seven deadly sins,” Zodiac was all about the Zodiac killer who terrorized California in the 1960s and 1970s and even the underrated The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was about a Swedish serial killer alternating between the 1960s and present day.

But Fincher has done more than just serial killer fare, he’s also directed things like Alien 3, Panic Room, Fight Club and The Social Network too all featuring characters who might be somewhat mildly psychotic, but not a single serial killer in the bunch!

Still, I had to wonder a bit about Fincher when his latest Netflix project was announced last year — a series about FBI agents who in the 1970s began interviewing serial killers in jail to try and see what made them do what they did in the series Mindhunter.

In Mindhunter, Jonathan Groff plays Holden Ford. An FBI hostage negotiator who’s trying to work within the confines of an agency built and setup to run in the 1930s but operating in a very different America of 1977. Ford wants to understand why criminals are the way they are, like why do people like Charles Manson do the things they’ve done? Whereas the average agent knows why criminals are the way they are — they were born that way. Period. End of argument. Ford and veteran agent Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) set out on a training tour of small towns across the country where they can bring a little light of more modern police work to them and these cops can teach these FBI agents about some of the realities of life on the street as it were.

In many ways, Mindhunter acts as a sort of prequel Thomas Harris novels like Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs of which were built around the work of people like John E. Douglas of whom the book Mindhunter was based on. In the works of Harris, the FBI agents are actively using the techniques that would have been developed in the time of Ford and Trench. But for those two living in 1977 anything that’s not related to kicking down doors and shooting the bad guys are looked down on. Even if the world was changing and murders like those committed by the Son of Sam were happening that didn’t have any logical reason behind them that could only be solved by psychological means.

Mindhunter is slow moving, but deliberately so. It’s not like the pace is slow just that the first episode isn’t so much an “episode” as the first part of a much longer story. I suppose that’s the ideal model for binge viewers where one episode leads directly to the next with only a smattering of credits before the start of the next show. But it does make it a bit harder for someone like me to watch and keep track of the story who might not watch all ten episode of the series in one sitting.

Stranger Things season 2 TV spot

Comics

Werewolf By Night: The Complete Collection Vol. 1

Another of the Marvel horror comics out in a collected edition this month is Werewolf By Night: The Complete Collection Vol. 1.

From Marvel:

Jack Russell stars in tales to make you howl, as Marvel’s very own Werewolf! Learn how Jack became one of the grooviest ghoulies of the seventies in this classic collection of his earliest adventures! Afflicted with his family’s curse, Jack’s sets out in search for answers. Could they lie in the terrible tome known as the Darkhold? But Jack’s quest is fraught with danger – from mad monks to big-game hunters to a traveling freak show! Then there’s the terror of Tatterdemalion, the horror of Hangman and the torment of Taboo! But few encounters can compare with Krogg, the lurker from beyond – except, maybe, a Marvel Team-Up with Spider-Man – and a supernatural showdown with Dracula himself!

Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer

The New Mutants trailer

The Reading List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1948: Margot Kidder, Lois Lane of Superman is born
  • 1977: Damnation Alley premiers
  • 1986: The Quiet Earth opens
  • 2004: The TV series Battlestar Galactica premiers



Bill Sienkiewicz Star Wars Return of the Jedi #2 cover






Star Wars (1977) unused Death Star matte painting



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