24x36: A Movie About Movie Posters Movie Review
Written by R.J. MacReady
Directed by Kevin Burke
Played at the Blood in the Snow Film Festival on November 24th, 2016, 82 minutes, Not Rated
If you're a movie fan – a true movie fan – then you're probably a fan of movie posters too. For many of us pre-internet people, it was the first sight we'd get of a film, and many of them are amazing works of art to boot.
We buy the posters from our favorite movies and hang them on our wall, not just in remembrance of the great films, but because of the skill and imagination that these artists demonstrated.
24x36: A Movie About Movie Posters is a film about movie posters and the people who love them. It's brief on the history of movie posters, as is probably best for entertainment's sake, but really takes some time to look at some of the less-known artists. For instance, name three movie poster artists. Before watching the flick I could have only named Drew Struzan and Roger Kastel, and I'm a pretty huge fan.
But 24x36 goes into more unknown artists like Bob Peak. He's only unknown by name, because I guarantee you've seen his work – Superman (1978), Apocalypse Now, Excalibur, Rollerball, Star Trek I - III, and many more.
John Alvin is another – he did E.T., Blade Runner, Golden Child, and Blazing Saddles.
There are even little-known tidbits about an artist I knew about, Roger Kastel, who did the famous Jaws poster. He also did the "Gone with the Wind" version of the original Empire Strikes Back poster. I'd always sort of assumed that Drew Struzan did all of those, even though if you look closely it's obvious that it's not him.
Another lesser-known artist featured is Richard Amsel, who did the poster for Hello Dolly while still a senior in art school, and went on to do big movies like The Sting in his twenties. More recognizable to my age range would be Flash Gordon, Dark Crystal, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
The documentary segues to look at how movie posters have changed over the years, their perilous pitstop in the '90s, and the Floating Heads phenomenon that we all hate, but heading into the brighter future where things have been changing, especially with the explosion in popularity that original Mondo posters have become. This is where the movie goes a bit off the rails. While the Mondo phenomenon is certainly interesting (and I own a Mondo poster), going in-depth into essentially the fan-art aspect of movie posters brings a lack of focus to the film.
From Mondo it moves to something called "Poster Posse", and then into details about screen printing movie posters. Both of these segments feel like padding, and don't add much.
The next section features "Artists", and as long as you realize it's going to feature unknown artists who mostly do Mondo-style art, then you may find it interesting. I found a new artist whose work I'm going to seek out in Chris Garofalo, whose horror posters are very cool.
"The Collectors" section showcases some incredible pieces and the people who collect them, many of whom are artists themselves. There are standout artists throughout the film from Phantom City Creative to Tom Hodge and more.
24x36: A Movie About Movie Posters is an interesting if unfocused look at movie posters and everything tangential to them, from the history to the artists to the collectors, and more. Those who love movie poster art will find much of it engrossing, while those with a passing interest may be bored at parts like the focus group debating which of two versions of a poster they like better, and why.
It's an important film if for no other reason than it brings the question to the forefront of what makes a movie poster important, and how there could be a return to the glory days of the past, when they weren't so much floating heads in a sea of orange and blue, but works of art.