Saturday, June 27, 2009

Good movies and bad advertising.

This is the poster from the Stephen Frears movie Dirty Pretty Things. Is Audrey Tatou a dirty thing or a pretty thing, or possibly both?

That's the thing. This is a poster of Audrey Tatou, but this isn't her character from the movie. She plays a very shy and timid hotel maid from Turkey working without a visa in London.

The letters of different fonts on different colored swatches of paper make it look like the movie might be about blackmail. Not really. It's about the army of foreign born people who do all the dirty jobs that make it possible for a city like London to exist.

The star of the movie, the protagonist who moves the action forward and who gets most of the screen is my adopted actor Chiwetel Ejiofor. He plays a man without a visa working multiple jobs to survive, trying to hide a secret from his past in his home country.

Also featured in the movie is Sophie Okonedo, who plays the hooker with a heart of gold part. Oddly, she is the only character who sounds like she has a British accent. Ms. Okonedo got an Oscar nomination for Hotel Rwanda opposite Don Cheadle. She's very good in both parts, and the roles are very different. She's the only character with lines who seems to be from the United Kingdom, though maybe they meant her to be West Indian. We know she can do an accent other than her true British accent, but not in this movie. That was a strange choice.

She's also damned adorable, not that I would notice.

Who am I kidding? I notice that all the time.

Still, I liked the film though the ad campaign was completely clueless.

Here's another movie I liked with an odd ad campaign. This poster for the 1996 Czech movie Kolya does a good job of show what it's about, especially the tag line about "the ultimate bachelor has finally met his match". It's the story of a man in his fifties who has to take care of a little boy through a strange set of circumstances.

The bad advertising is the girl in the dress. If you go to the movie waiting for the important scene with the girl in the dress, you will be disappointed. We see her in one scene for a few seconds. The main characters are driving somewhere, and we see her from the window of the car. She has no lines.

Do you remember Cool Hand Luke? Do you remember the girl who washed the car? If you saw it, of course you do. The car wash girl got about ten times as much screen time as the girl in the dress did in Kolya. I looked online and none of the posters for Cool Hand Luke include a picture of the girl, who was played by the starlet Joy Harmon.

I bring this up because when Kolya had small print ads in the newspapers, the picture was cropped so all you saw was the girl. Not the man and the boy, the true stars of the movie, the pretty girl you see for a few seconds.

Good movies, but bad advertising. With all the money they spend on this stuff, you'd think they could do a better job.


Margaret Benbow said...

You're right, of course. The bad advertising is on purpose--they despise their audience so much they think some flash of backside in the ads will bring folks running,no matter how false.
Did love that movie Kolya, though! And in Dirty Pretty Things, one of the most satisfying moments in cinema (for me) happened at the end when the vicious exploiter of the immigrants woke up to find his kidney missing!

dguzman said...

I agree with Margaret--this crappy sex-sells thing is just what advertisers do, thinking the LCD appeal is always golden. Ridiculous.

Based on your review, I really would like to see that Pretty Dirty Dirties or whatever, but I HATE H-A-T-E hate Audrey Tatou. It was all I could do to sit through her little simpy-faced performance in Da Vinci Code. I know it's an irrational hatred; she's obviously talented. But there's just something about that face of hers that bugs me.

Matty Boy said...

Thanks for the comments.

As for Audrey Tatou hatred, I have always had this problem when trying to find a movie for friends to see. Dealing with the rational (and sometimes not so rational) dislikes for certain actors among my movie going friends is always a challenge. For example, one of my buddies hates Danny DeVito, and we had to go to L.A. Confidential only over his objections. He actually liked the film when he saw it, but still I know if DeVito is in something, my friend Dave will probably not want to see it.