Posts by Andrew:
So, the 7th annual AACTA Awards ceremony came and went. The ceremony was spread out over two days, with a delayed screening running on Channel 7, followed by a repeat screening to be run on Foxtel at a later date. For those following the game, they would have been well aware of the fact that Australian cinemas night of nights was occurring. However, for the general public, this particular awards ceremony may be low down on their radar.
‘The Aussie Oscars’ went through a change seven years ago. In 2011, the Australian Film Institute (AFI) changed its name to the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA). The AFI Awards were established in 1969 and it took a few years before it morphed into the traditional awards format that we’re used to. Naturally, there has been a great celebration of Australian cinema throughout the years, with everything from the war classic Breaker Morant to the fantasy flick The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey winning the big prize, so one has to ask… why the change to AACTA?
The official line was that there was a desire to ‘create awareness for Australian film in local and international markets’. Alongside a membership restructure, ‘reboot mode’ was taking place. Geoffrey Rush was installed as Academy President. To be eligible, a film needs to have screened for seven consecutive days in at least two Australian states. On top of that, production companies need to pay an entry fee to simply be considered – up to $AU1680 for a feature film, $AU400 for documentaries, $AU330 for short and animated films, and $AU1125 for all television categories.
It’s no secret that Australian audiences view Australian cinema like it’s the plague. Australians simply rarely go to see outwardly Australian films, no matter how great they are. Let me clarify that for you, in the 2000’s, Aussies were rarely going to see films that were fuelled by a eminently strine sound. And, on top of that, purely Australian films were failing to make an impact internationally. Sure, films like Happy Feet and Australia garnered Oscar attention, but if you asked anybody on the street, they’d swear black and blue that they were not Australian films. I’ve had endless amounts of conversations with folks about the Australian-ess of films, explaining that films like Hacksaw Ridge or The Great Gatsby were indeed Australian films, only to be met with ‘no way’ or ‘they can’t be’.
Two questions are raised when it comes to Australian cinema. What makes a film Australian? And, in turn, what is the role of the AACTA Awards in rewarding Australian cinema?
2017’s major winner, Garth Davis’ Lion, swept the ceremony – winning every category it was nominated in. Producer Angie Fielder had this to say upon winning the Best Picture award:
As a film that was partly financed by the Weinstein Company, it would be remiss of us not to acknowledge the incredible bravery of the women and men who have come forward to break the silence about sexual harassment and assault in our industry.
Sexual assaults aside, and financiers names excluded, the part I want to circle out was that a non-Australian company helped finance the film. A fair amount of Lion was filmed in Australia, with a predominantly Australian cast and crew, but that alone doesn’t qualify it as an Australian film. Dev Patel does a killer Australian accent – I challenge you to find a better non-Australian actor throwing down the Aussie twang – and Nicole Kidman and David Wenham provide a caring, supportive backbone to a beautiful tale. It’s a powerful film that reinforces the text book idea of ‘what it means to be Australian’ – meaning, looking out for other people, caring for others, and all round being supportive, nice guys. But, if a film were just to portray Australian values or contain Australian actors, just to be considered Australian, then we’d be claiming a heck of a lot of films. After all, we’ll gladly claim anybody who buys a house here as our own.
Almost immediately on the strength of Lion, Garth Davis had secured his next film – a retelling of the story of Mary Magdalene with his Lion co-star Rooney Mara in the titular role. So, one has to ask, have the AACTA Awards simply become a further calling card for actors and directors to make their way to the great holy land of cinema – the United States of America?
Jackie Weaver and Ben Mendelsohn famously garnered late career boosting attention via the superb Animal Kingdom. Weaver got an Oscar nomination for her work, and went on to work with directors like David O. Russell. Mendelsohn eventually went on to star as the villain in a Star Wars film. In turn, well established directors like Baz Luhrmann and Mel Gibson both were greatly rewarded for the definitely non-Australian tales, The Great Gatsby and Hacksaw Ridge, respectively.
It’s great to see Australian actors and directors succeeding internationally, but should the AACTA Awards be a field where we reward stories that are, for all intents and purposes, are purely American stories? Mel Gibson famously brought the production of Hacksaw Ridge to Australia because nobody would fund his war epic, and by making it in Australia he was able to gain support from the Australian government through Screen Australia. Hacksaw Ridge managed to get Gibson an Oscar nomination – essentially Hollywood’s way of saying ‘we accept you, and you’re fine to work here again’ after his abusive outburst in the 2000’s.
Then, of course, the ‘Great American Novel’ – The Great Gatsby – was adapted in Australia (of all places!) and walked away with the Best Film prize that year. It featured only a handful of Australian actors, but the crew behind the scenes were wholly Australian. Baz Luhrmann’s ability to create a commercially successful film that employs Australians surely needs to be rewarded.
But, if Luhrmann is to be rewarded for employing Australian crew members, then surely Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok or Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant should be considered for the top prize too? They too feature a wide amount of Australian talent behind the scenes, and were filmed in Australia, and were assisted by a welcome financial boost from the Australian government. And, just like Hacksaw Ridge and The Great Gatsby, they are hardly Australian tales. (I mean, yes, all Australian men and women are just like Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, that’s a given, but we don’t use electric hammers is all.)
If there’s one thing that’s for certain, ever since the AFI Awards changed their name to the AACTA Awards, and the behind the scenes makeup of the academy did their job, Australian films have certainly been garnering greater attention internationally. Even if the films themselves don’t make an impact, the people in them definitely are.
Mad Max: Fury Road and The Babadook would have been successful regardless of whether they won AACTA awards or not – they are simply that great. So, the AACTA Awards can’t take credit for their international success. The same year of The Babadook, the Spierig Brothers brought the talent of Sarah Snook to the attention of the world with Predestination. Arguably, the success of that film at the AACTA Awards (as it failed at the Australian box office) helped push Snook into international attention, with her subsequent casting in films like The Glass Castle and Steve Jobs.
If we look back at the AFI-era winning films, there’s nary an non-Australian focused film in sight. Before 2010, true blue, Aussie yarns came out on top at the ceremony. They were unmistakably Australian stories that reflected an Australian society.
But, let’s go back to the fact that Australian audiences simply don’t attend Australian films in the same levels that they would international films. Crocodile Dundee is still safely the highest grossing Australian film of all time, and it doesn’t look like there will ever be a true challenger to that title for a long while.
With the Academy Awards, the Best Picture winner becomes a house hold name. People seek it out because it won ‘The Oscar’. But, with the AACTA Awards, it’s questionable whether non-film focused folks in Australia would actually remember what won Best Picture last year. Within Australia, we regularly get hot under the collar about the Logies or the Aria awards, and it’s all fun and laughter on the night, but a week or two later, nobody would remember who walked away with the big prizes. Arguably, many more would be able to name who won the Brownlow medal five years ago compared to who walked away with Best Album, the Gold Logie or Best Picture at the respective ceremonies. Go on, test yourself if you can remember any of those winners*.
Internationally, the winners of the AACTA Awards make few waves. Sure, Variety may run an article or two, but nobody is talking about the AACTA Awards in the same way that they may talk about the BAFTA Awards, or the Berlin Film Festival. Mostly because the AACTA Awards feel like an afterthought compared to all the other awards ceremonies out there. After all, Hacksaw Ridge competed with Lion at the 89th Academy Awards. So, the hype train for Lion has already long passed.
If the key aim of the AACTA Awards is to highlight and promote Australian cinema in local and international markets, then what can they do to help expose more eyes to Australian cinema?
This feels like a trick question, mostly because there are layers of complexity within it. One of the key ways of getting people interested in Australian cinema is to… create great Australian cinema. Ok, great. We’re already doing that in droves. Next step is for folks to have hype built around Australian films, or rather, a great box office receipt.
A pet peeve of mine is the fact that many Australian films will launch internationally long before Australian audiences have a chance to see them. But, I’m selfish. I love Australian cinema, and heck, I want to be able to see Australian cinema first. Films like Hounds of Love, Lion and Killing Ground all had international releases before launching in Australia. Arguably, the word of mouth from Hounds of Love helped boost the box office for the film here in Australia. Ben Young made a great film, but one has to look at the damp box office reception that Snowtown received to realise that Australian audiences aren’t exactly champing at the bit to watch a serial killer story.
Australia does have a piracy problem – it’s undeniable. And so, when an Australian film launches internationally on streaming services first – as in the case of Killing Ground – many turn to their local torrent service to unashamedly steal the latest Aussie flick. The Mule tackled this issue wonderfully years ago by releasing the film in an affordable, timely format. Smashing the piracy problem is difficult, and one that needs a huge industry overhaul that will take a while. It’ll happen, but it’ll happen slowly.
So, releasing internationally helps international and Australian audiences realise that hey, this country down under, they do some ok stuff. Word of mouth and gradual hype helps build awareness for film, allowing anticipation to bubble away in the background. Yeah, I’ll whinge about Canada getting to see Breath before Australia does, but if it helps international audiences become aware that the film exists, then so be it.
But what about the smaller films that fail to even get a cinema run? If you looked at the potential nominees for this years AACTA Awards, odds are you may have scratched your head at some of the titles – you’d be forgiven for wondering what Event Zero or Blue World Order is, given the reduced exposure these (and many other) films managed to get in 2016/2017 outside of their qualifying seven day, two state run. Filmmaking is becoming increasingly easier and more accessible to those who have the itch to tell tales, and Australian filmmakers are making more films than ever before. With that in mind, it’s understandable then that the AACTA Awards can’t consider every single film for the top prize.
As mentioned above, films need to pay a small fee to get their foot in the door to even be considered for a nomination. This is the reason why one of the best reviewed, and well received, documentaries of the year – Hotel Coolgardie – failed to get a nomination. The cost may appear minimal, but for films where the budget may barely hit the hundreds of thousands, $AU1680 is quite a lot of money. After all, the BAFTA Awards and the Academy Awards don’t require filmmakers to pay an entrance fee. Arguably, the AACTA Awards should follow the same format as the various guild awards in America – you can only be nominated if you are part of the guild itself. The AACTA awards have a guild membership, of which most people working in Australian film could afford. So, why not have that be the ‘fee’ that allows them to have their film considered? Simply being short listed for an award can help build awareness for a film. Removing the gatekeeper aspect for the awards could help.
Again, if the one of the key aspects of the AACTA Awards is to bring awareness to Australian film both domestically and internationally, then how do those smaller films break through into that seemingly illustrious field? OzFlix is a superb service that helps provide a platform for both new and old Australian films digitally. Dendy has a premium service for films, but that premium is, well, quite a premium – it sits at about $20-$25 for a new release film. Some festival only films pop up on other online platforms like RevOnDemand and iTunes. But, arguably, they shouldn’t have to battle for viewing space.
I’ll circle out one of the more inventive Australian films of the year, Watch the Sunset, alongside one of the more raucous, entertaining documentaries of the year, Meal Tickets, and argue that hey, these films deserved their moment in the spotlight outside of festival appearances. Their quality is undeniable, and the stories they tell are fascinating and entertaining. So why aren’t they able to play in the same field as other Australian films, simply because they didn’t pay a fee to participate or get a short run in exclusive Sydney and Melbourne arthouse theatres?
The Screen Australia fund helps support new filmmakers and provides an opportunity for filmmakers to secure financing to get their films made, but surely there’s more that can be done. In France, the film industry is partially supported by ticket sales. Every ticket sold helps provide a funding pool for French films to be made. While that alone hasn’t entirely made French films successful in France (after all, Europe is certainly a more ‘art focused’ region of the world than Australia is), it has helped provide an avenue of financing for French cinema.
Now, the Australian box office is nowhere near as productive as Frances is, it is still nothing to sniff at, with Beauty and the Beast taking in $36.3 million in 2017. What should be proposed is that a percentage of the box office for non-Australian films should go towards funding Australian cinema. If fifty cents from every ticket went towards a pool for Australian films, then from Beauty and the Beasts taking alone, there would be approximately $900,000 alone for an Australian film fund. For every non-Australian film that rakes in millions within Australia, an opportunity for an Australian film to be made could exist.
If that idea doesn’t work, then how does free or reduced advertising for Australian films sound? Encourage cinema chains like Village, Hoyts and Event to screen Australian films by requiring that a percentage of films shown need to have an Australian film trailer screened before it. Or, alternatively, enforce that a percentage of posters shown in theatres need to be for Australian films. Alternatively, for those premium on demand services, make them affordable. It’s great that Australian films are being made more readily available sooner, but it’s useless if it costs more than an adult ticket at the multiplex to watch.
Then we look to the production of international films in Australia and the opportunities that they’re afforded that Australian films may not be. It’s great that films like Thor: Ragnarok and Alien: Covenant are made in Australia, but they are done so with ample financial assistance from the Australian government (a combined total of $47.25 million in fact). With a bid to get more international productions moving to Australia, the Australian government regularly steps in to ensure that Australian crews are utilised. Arguably, Australia could become the Toronto of the southern hemisphere by instead providing tax breaks for those productions that decide to set up base here, rather than simply buying their business here. Of that $47.25 million that was spent to ‘buy’ the productions of Thor: Ragnarok and Alien: Covenant, how much of the studios own money was spent here? It’s not like these films are Hollywood adverts for Australia in the same way that Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings series was for New Zealand. So, what benefit is Australia actually getting from these productions?
Why can’t that $47.25 million have been put behind Australian films to help further the Australian film industry, and in turn, help the AACTA Awards in their pseudo mission statement ‘create awareness for Australian film in local and international markets’? The film industry is a complex, bizarre beast that, in Australia at least, is even more complicated than that of non-Australian countries.
If you took an Australian filmmaker or film lover aside, and asked them how to fix the Australian film industry, then no doubt you’d get fifty different ideas. And certainly, my suggestions above are pie in the sky concepts that would never gain ground in Australia. The path to getting Australia to love Australian cinema again is a long, hard one.
It’s superb that Garth Davis’ brilliant Lion won the awards that it won. It’s definitely one of the best films of 2017, regardless of country of origin. It’s also great to see films like Ali’s Wedding, Jasper Jones, Berlin Syndrome and Hounds of Love get consideration. Personally, I wish that films like Jungle, Three Summers, and Killing Ground had more of a showing in the nominations, but I guess that’s where personal end of year lists come into effect?
The AACTA Awards are one of my favourite events of the year. They cap off a long year by rewarding great Australian cinema. But, for all the fanfare that the event has, I don’t actually watch the ceremony itself. It’s spread over two days, with only the major awards given at the televised ceremony. And yet, for 2017, the winners at that ceremony mostly accepted their awards via pre-recorded videos. What an exciting event for the viewers themselves. I understand that film stars like Nicole Kidman and Dev Patel can’t attend every single ceremony around the world, but it does take the buzz out of the event when the winners aren’t there to accept their award.
If the event itself isn’t ‘save the date’ worthy for Australian audiences, then how can the awards themselves be held to that regard? Yes, again, for Australian film lovers, we’re in love with the AACTA Awards for celebrating Australian cinema. But, just like anything great, we want to share it with others – namely, our fellow Australians.
It does seem that Australian awards ceremonies exist to simply provide fodder for the multitude of ‘best dressed’ articles on various fashion blogs and news websites (does who wore what still count as news, and if so, why is it more headline grabbing than the winners themselves?). Take a quick Google search for AACTA Awards 2017 and you’ll find that most of the articles are related to who wore what. If that’s the level of discussion that surrounds the AACTA Awards, then… yikes.
I know that this long, rambling post is a mishmash of ideas and incomplete sentences. It’s incoherent, and sometimes illogical, a bit like the Australian film industry at times. But, it comes from a place of wanting the Australian industry to succeed and to be part of the same conversations as American, British or European cinema – held up high and revered. There’s no reason why names like Rolf de Heer, Warwick Thornton, Cate Shortland, Greg McLean and many, many more, shouldn’t be uttered in the same breath as filmmakers from those lands. Australian cinema is like no other in the world. It contains some of the most varied, fascinating, entertaining stories that cinema has to offer.
Today, when I came in to work, I mentioned off the cuff to my colleagues about Lion winning big at the AACTA Awards last night. These are average filmgoers. They’re aware of the fact that Moonlight and Spotlight are the most recent Best Picture winners. However, I had to explain what AACTA was. I ran through what won recently, and the importance of the awards. Given the AACTA Awards have been ‘refreshed, rebooted, and reimagined’ for a good seven years now, surely it’s time that Australians held it to a higher regard? And in turn, held Australian cinema to a higher regard?
*(Brownlow: Jobe Watson, Best Album Aria Awards: Gotye – Making Mirrors, Gold Logie: Hamish Blake, Best Picture AACTA Awards: The Sapphires.)
And here we are, launching into my top ten favourite Mondo prints of all time. Now, as we head into this list, remember that these are my selections, and no doubt your selections would be widely different than what is here. With that said, here we go…
10. If there were one property that I have been waiting for a perfect representation of in print form from Mondo, it would be Disney’s classic Pinocchio. I grew up watching Pinocchio, and feel that out of all the animated Disney films it was the one that shaped me the most. There is a purity and innocence to the character of Pinocchio that helps reinforce his naivety within the desperate and dark moments that he finds himself in.
After he manages to find himself in the darkest, dankest amusement park to exist, Pleasure Island (where’s the ride for this one Disney?), Pinocchio manages to escape. It’s a profound moment within the film where his journey to becoming a real boy takes a precarious path, Pinocchio finds himself with a tail and a pair of donkey ears. Things could not get worse.
That is, until he heads into the ocean and encounters the terrifying Monstro – a giant whale that consumes ships and destroys the ocean (Moby Dick, eat your heart out). It’s the one image that I have been itching to see – the culmination of events that have pushed this creation into the world: Pinocchio on a journey to find his father, instead encountering a sneering, giant whale. Jessica Seamans (one half of the great team Landland) did exactly that – Pinocchio stands in fear as Monstro hangs above him.
As a child, there was nothing more terrifying that the endless fury that drives Monstro, and here it is in print form, a salient reminder that even though we are born into this world as innocents, we are in turn moulded, and shaped by the world, and it is up to us to understand the paths we should take to be better people. Sometimes we embark on paths that we feel are the right ones, but turn out to be ones that bring about doom. Pinocchio’s conquering of Monstro with his father Geppetto by his side shows that he has finally learned to be a real, understanding, compassionate and empathetic real boy. It never fails to move me, and Seamans print accentuates that even more.
9. I remember the exact moment that I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. It was in summertime in 1994. I was ten years old and it was early on Christmas Eve at my grandparents house, and for some reason the TV was on and was about to play this Alfred Hitchcock film. My grandmother asked if I’d seen a Hitchcock film before, to which I said that I had not. We sat down and watched it, and from that point onwards I understood what a horror film truly was. I was terrified.
What struck me about Hitchcock’s The Birds, was the fact that danger lingers all around you. What may seem like an innocent entity within your day to day life, could quite easily become a spectre of doom and terror. The birds within The Birds appear to somehow work together, possessed by the desire to conquer mankind and take over the town of Bodega Bay. They first appear as innocent, harmless caged lovebirds that Tippi Hedren purchases in San Francisco, and eventually become harbingers of doom, swarming over a childrens playground, in turn painting it black.
Laurent Durieux presents Tippi Hedren heading off on a pier to leave the town she has come from. The lovebirds hang in her hand as a shadow of a hovering bird covers her. Importantly, she is alone, and if there one element from Hitchcock’s films to take away, it’s that terrible things happen to women when they are alone. As anyone who lives in Australia during the springtime when the magpies are out in force, you will know that it’s when you’re not looking at them that the terrible things may happen. Here, an unseen terror awaits Hedren.
Durieux’s choice of pastel colours works in some ways to mute the threats that potentially await for us all in plain sight. No matter how much we may run, no matter how much we may hide, the birds are all around us – from the skies above, to the cage in our hands. As ten year old me thought when I saw this for the first time, the birds will conquer us all.
8. One of the quirks about the licensing agreements that Mondo has to deal with is that sometimes they can do a print for a film, but are in turn not allowed to include the credits of who actually made the film. So, while there is a print of Anthony Hopkins as his most terrifying creation, it oddly cannot be attributed to Hopkins himself, or director Johnathon Demme or Jodie Foster. All of which makes WeBuyYourKids print all the more better.
We so rarely get prints related to books – there are countless music related posters, endless movie posters, and a smattering of video game prints – so by happenstance, a print that is meant to be for Demme’s film in turn becomes a print for the great Thomas Harris book. This is not a point of contention – Demme’s film is a masterpiece of cinema. While this print does feel like it’s straddling the line of being a print for the film versus being a print for the book, it manages to stand on its own feet with the line ‘From the Terrifying Best Seller’.
Semantics aside, what works so perfectly about this print is that it’s a representation of Clarice Starling from the perspective of cognisent madman Hannibal Lecter. His drawing within the tale of Clarice shows her as the Virgin Mary, and in place of where Jesus would be, she is holding a lamb. Clarice is presented here as a skull like spectre, yet she is still caring for something other than her.
Lecter adores Starling, he doesn’t want to hurt her at all – ‘he would consider that rude’ – and in many ways, this representation of his minds eye is reminder of how sacred Clarice is to him. Behind her a hand hovers, a mother floating in flight above it. As much as he adores Starling, he equally admires the work of Buffalo Bill – he who owns the hand that hovers.
There is a unity between killer, and those who investigate the deaths that result from the killers actions. Clarice Starling’s tale about waking early in the morning, terrified after the death of her father, she runs into the darkness of a farm. She stumbles upon a barn where the spring lambs are being slaughtered, their screams break the morning silence. Clarice tries to save just one lamb, but the weight of the lamb is simply too much – she is eventually exhausted by the weight of it, and cannot run any further. The lamb is taken back to the farm and killed and Clarice is sent off to an orphanage. Naturally, as Lecter states, there is a relationship between Clarice trying to save the lambs and Clarice trying to stave off any future victims. It’s a weight of which she will never be free from. The hidden faces within the print remind us of the endless souls that have been lost and that Clarice will never stop trying to avenge.
7. As I’ve mentioned throughout this series, Jay Shaw sits alongside Martin Ansin and Kevin Tong on the Mount Rushmore of Mondo artists. While he creates an endless supply of stunning prints – everything from Repo Man to High-Rise, from The Act of Killing to Ed Gein – he continually challenges and surprises with his output. Making his sixth and final entry on this list is Jay Shaw’s Paths of Glory.
We each have our own favourite Stanley Kubrick films for our own specific reasons, and while Dr Strangelove is up there for me, I keep coming back to Kubrick’s damnation of the act of war with Paths of Glory. This is a devastating portrayal of the ludicrous nature of war – the use of men like pawns with pure disregard for their emotions. Shown in black and white, this is Kubrick creating his most emotional work. It’s hard not to be broken by the journey that Kirk Douglas’ Colonel Dax schleps down in his path to defend his soldiers.
Shaw’s typography is a scrawl of fury, as if he’s spitting out the title of the film. At once, this appears to be a comical portrayal of a hand plucking a man out of a trench, as if this were a Monty Python take on war. However, thanks to the genius artistry of Jay Shaw, the apparent element of comedy simply does not exist here. This is a print drenched in dread.
In the midst of this madness, a man, a fellow soldier, is plucked out of the trench. His face is clouded in darkness, yet his body suggests shock and confusion. These are the apparent ‘paths of glory’ that the soldiers fight on. Elsewhere, the distracted glances of men search all over for some kind of guidance to direct them where they need to go. Meanwhile, men breach the trenches, running into certain death.
It’s powerful, it’s impressive. It’s what I want from a film print – something that doesn’t exactly feel like a promotion for the film it’s presenting, but rather a furthering of the conversation that the film instigates.
6. Again with the hands. This time, instead of holding onto something, they’re bursting out of an array of frogs. It’s bizarre imagery that is surrounded by a sea of black. A golden flowers blooms behind these disturbing amphibians. It raises so many questions, while providing so little answers.
How does one contain Paul Thomas Anderson’s sweeping epic into one image? It would be easy to have a floating head piece of every character within the film, but that alone isn’t even scraping the surface of what the film is about. For me, this is my favourite film, and while the original one sheets are truly sublime, it’s João Ruas’ work that has managed to evoke the feeling of Magnolia in the best way possible. Everybody is connected, and through darkness and devastation, hope will arise.
Unlike the other entries in the top 10, I don’t have an endless amount of words to say about this print other than ‘just look at these close up shots’.
5. Is there anything more stunning and beautiful in the Mondo catalogue than Kevin Tong’s Mulholland Drive print? I really don’t think so. Both the regular and the variant editions are sumptuous and stunning. The likeness of Naomi Watts and Laura Harring are spot on. The wide eyed wonder of Watts is one that’s full of hope and desires, and Harring’s sly, knowing smile hints at the darkness in the world of glitz and glamour.
The criss-crossing floodlights at the bottom hint at a world of lights and excitement. They hint at Hollywood. The simplicity of the imagery is key – by allowing a central motif to sit by itself is smart, yet, lesser artists would see the emptiness and feel the desire to fill it with something. This feels like the pinnacle of a career as an artist – where every piece that Kevin Tong has worked on has been in a bid to make this one print.
The next text is something I wish I had written in regards to the relationship of artist MC Escher and David Lynch and the nature of surrealism, but I didn’t. Instead, I’ll let a user from the print forum Expresso Beans take the stage:
David Lynch is a surrealist, Escher is a surrealist. Mulholland Drive’s main theme is identity. The film is labyrinthine, constantly folding upon itself like a mobius strip. Tong is paying homage to one surrealist by invoking another while nailing the film’s core concepts.
4. Roy Lichtenstein’s work is sublime. It presents the comic strip as a parody, taking the often over dramatic serials and flipping it on its head. It’s stunning stuff and well worth trawling through, and then, in turn, trawling through the many artists who have been inspired by his work. While parodies of a parodies can be cringe worthy, there’s something truly brilliant about one that just works.
Wes Craven’s era defining Scream is a parody of the films that Craven helped establish. It takes the slasher genre and flips it on its head. That genre had grown stale and tired by the time Scream rolled around and shook things up. One of the key aspects of Scream’s success was taking the casting of Drew Barrymore, and subverting the above the marquee status that her name would have dictated at the time by having her being killed dramatically in the opening scene. It’s stunning.
The confusion as to who is the killer is one of the key tenants of the Scream series – the unknown terror and the fear of a masked thug is powerful. What’s even more terrifying is a voice on the other end of the phone who is taunting a potential victim. Visualised terror is frightening, but an unseen, unknown terror is even more terrifying. The quote helps reinforce the frantic fear from Drew Barrymore’s Casey Becker. She’s trying to regain the upper hand in a situation that has wildly fallen out of her favour. ‘Listen!’ ‘I am two seconds away from calling the police!’ The insanity of the situation hasn’t properly hit Casey, her adrenaline is causing her to not think straight.
Gary Pullin’s work is regularly in the realm of horror, and he consistently hits it out of the park. This print has him working on a whole different level. While most Scream prints would feel the need to include Ghostface (the mask itself a parody of the iconic Edvard Munch painting The Scream), it takes restraint to hold back from showing the iconic mask. There’s not even a sly hint or easter egg of the mask – I believe at one point there was the possibility of the mask being hinted as the ‘shock’ effect at the phones antenna. To take an idea like Lichtenstein’s parody work and in turn apply it to the work of one of the greatest horror parody’s around is genius. To actually bring that concept to life and execute it perfectly is another thing. This is an all-timer.
3. Besides the iconic John Carpenter score, what’s the first image that comes to mind when you think of Halloween? For me, it’s the mysteriously ubiquitous aspect of Michael Myers appearing out of nowhere. Myers appears behind unknowing teens, ready to dispatch them in the night. Carpenter’s film mainly takes place on a quiet night, with the darkness enveloping most of the characters. It’s in this darkness that fear resides – fear of the unknown and fear of the unseen.
Ken Taylor’s print presents Myers in the middle of a street with his fear inducing knife in his hand. His face, as we have grown to dread, is blank and emotionless. Whatever this man wants, it cannot be good.
Yet, even though he stands alone in this empty street, he is surrounded by a chaotic array of leaves. A tree stretches out over him, having exhausted itself of many of its leaves. The lone moon in the sky hovers like an omnipresent eye, tucked behind suburbia – almost like an unwelcome being. The mass of leaves suggests an inevitable change on the horizon – and one that Halloween helped wreak on the film industry, with the ‘slasher’ film essentially established with Carpenter’s classic.
Red leaves pepper the vista, like a smattering of blood on a bedsheet. As you may have noticed throughout this list, there is a greater representation of horror films than you may expect. If there’s one element of Mondo’s output that is their bread and butter, it’s the horror genre. Heavily represented in this genre group is Halloween. Ken Taylor’s work is regularly stunning – so much so that it’s no surprise that he has a legion of imitators (but nobody better than the original) – and it’s with this Halloween print that represents the best of his work.
It’s here that Ken Taylor takes the mantle alongside Jay Shaw, Kevin Tong and Martin Ansin on that hallowed ground that would be the Mondo Mount Rushmore of artists. Artists who have displayed a profound versatility within their work, while also presenting some of the greatest screenprints around.
2. In 2011, the legitimacy of Mondo’s output was made official when the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences decided to archive Mondo’s output in their Margaret Herrick Library collection. One of the first entries into that collection was Drew Struzan’s powerful work for the classic Universal Monsters film Frankenstein. Paired with artist Ken Taylor (who did the typography) and with the assistance of Kevin Tong (who did the separations), Drew Struzan’s painting comes to life in print form.
Where to begin with such a work of beauty? Whether it’s the suggestions of lightning strikes that frame both Dr Frankenstein and his monster, or the lifelike presentation of a raging fire, with its embers floating in the wind, there is nothing but pure brilliance and respect for a film within this piece of work.
Boris Karloff’s tortured monster is shrouded in sadness, his visible eye covered by a shadow that suggests he’s wondering exactly what he is. Colin Clive’s scowl suggests he is well aware of the devastation that he hath wrought, and is almost just waiting the inevitable fury that will be brought to his doorstop.
And that typography! Oh my. The title alone is stunning and evokes an era in the best way possible. You can’t help but feel transported to the 1930’s and that you’re in a different world. I can only imagine this exact poster hanging as a promotional tool way back when. It’s timeless. A powerful, important print.
1. If/when my midlife crisis hits, I’ll be seeking down a copy of this print to buy and frame and just sit and stare at til the rest of my days are worn to nothing.
The desire to be a creator and, in turn, a creator of mankind, is one that has been explored throughout cinematic history. What does it mean to play God? But, most importantly, what does it mean to be the creation of a man who thinks he’s playing in God’s wheelhouse? Both Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein are as much about humanity, as they are about what makes us human.
Where the first film showed Boris Karloff being perplexed by the beauty of life – as seen in a devastating moment where he drowns a young child -, the sequel presents us with the monster struggling to understand the humanity that is forced upon him. Life, it seems, is painful. People fear him, and people struggle to accept his presence. So, when the monster is finally presented with an equal – a manufactured bride who is designed to be his love -, and she rejects him, he resorts to destroying the world he lives in. It’s traumatic and depressing. Just because she is his equal, does not mean that the Bride herself will not fear what he is, and in turn, what she is.
Martin Ansin is at the top of his game here. The anatomical work displays the makings of a monster, while also showing the layers in what makes us human. Just because one has the same physical makeup as others, does not in turn make them equal to everybody else. The position of the Bride’s head suggests that she is well aware of her manufactured beauty. Her iconic white streak loops in curves.
Below her face lingers the images of the many figures who helped bring her into existence. There is no sign of happiness here, these are weathered, tortured figures. Some of which hang their heads in shame at their actions. Their inclusion is essential in providing an understanding of who the Bride is.
In the realm of screenprints, or really, in film related artwork in general, there is no better that Martin Ansin’s The Bride of Frakenstein. I’m certain this is the benchmark of talent that many artists strive for. And what a high benchmark it is.
And that folks is my Top 100 Best Mondo Prints. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading through this list and seeing what art I enjoy. Please share what your favourite prints are!
As we head into the home stretch for this top 100 Mondo prints list, it’s worthwhile reminding that this is a fully subjective list of prints that I consider to be the best that Mondo has produced. Part of what’s entertaining about making these lists is that one can decide what print means more to them than another. Art is a subjective form, so for some the lack of Tyler Stout classics will rankle feathers, while others may say there’s too much webuyyourkids – and they’re not wrong, but they’re also not right. These next twenty prints are the ones that work the most out of the hundreds of prints that Mondo have created for me. However, let me know what you feel should have been in the list.
20. Jay Shaw has six entries on this list, and if you were to look back at the four already presented you’d question if they came from the same artist. Like Martin Ansin, Mike Mitchell and Ken Taylor, Jay Shaw is an artist whose palette spans many styles. Here, he tackles one of the most unique new forms of art around – x-rays. Like many of the prints on this list, Jay’s Alien print has a ‘shit, why didn’t I think of that?’ aspect to it. After all – John Hurt’s Kane does get an x-ray in the film.
The facehugger sits tight on Kane’s face, the distended heart suggesting what doom is to come. The typography of the patients name and details helps place this x-ray in a futuristic realm. While some may cringe at the idea of having an x-ray hanging on their walls, the artistic level of this print (which was printed on a backlit polyester film) is top level work.
19. Even though the machine that is Mondo is one that was founded on trying to create new, unique, interesting prints for existing properties, there is a need to also create prints for films that are yet to be released (and in some circumstances, films that will never be released). The access to IP’s may be bundled alongside certain new properties. If Mondo wants to do X property, then they will have to create prints for this lesser desired property. Because of this, an artist is sometimes unable to actually see the film that they are creating a print for – often they may only have a trailer to go on, or set photos. Daniel Danger experienced this when all he had to go on when making his Cowboys & Aliens was the trailer.
So, when director Guillermo del Toro and Legendary Pictures approached Mondo to do a Crimson Peak print, they went all out. del Toro is no stranger to Mondo, having worked with the company on many different prints for his films (such as this Mimic print), and therefore understands the need of an artist to understand the text they’re creating a print for. Seven months prior to the films release, Daniel Danger was allowed to sit in a cinema all by himself and draw from the gothic elements to create this masterpiece (that is, until he does his Corrina, Corrina print). When you think of gothic, haunted, fractured houses, you think of Daniel Danger. This is a perfect companion of artist and film. I could go on about its brilliance, but really, just read this interview with Danger and get a sense of his pure excitement for the task that laid ahead of him.
18. As you may have gathered from the previous Ken Taylor entries in this list, he absolutely nails the films of classic cinema. Nosferatu, Metropolis and now 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Ken’s attention to detail with the giant squid versus the Nautilus is next level work.
The dark black, and deep blues present a feeling of doom and peril. The inhabitants of the Nautilus are in for a rough time, and you can’t help but imagine the destruction that will eventuate from this tussle. But, the typography and inclusion of a ‘For General Exhibition’ rating label, help push a sense of fun and safety that early Disney kids films provided. You know that bad stuff is going to happen, but it’s adventure level bad stuff – it won’t be that bad.
17. Rockin Jelly Bean’s work is all boobs, butts and bright colours. Women are often exaggerated, with their oversized appendages draped in small, tight clothing. It’s pure objectification, and sure, it’s not for everybody, but the artistry is through the roof. One could argue that Rockin Jelly Bean is the Russ Meyer of the art print world.
With that in mind, there’s no better fit for Paul Thomas Anderson’s film about the porn industry than Rockin Jelly Bean. Aaron Horkey helped curate a series of prints that focus on the work of Paul Thomas Anderson, and his decision to put Rockin Jelly Bean with Boogie Nights is inspired. It’s bright, it’s garish, it’s erotic, it’s everything you’d expect a print for a film about porn to be.
16. Spike Jonze’s Her is a film about how integrally interweaved technology has become in our lives. It’s become as essential as water, air, and food. The concept that our lives are driven, and changed, by technology is a daunting one. The concept that we can possibly fall in love with a being, or rather a computer program, that has no physical form is a fascinating idea.
Matthew Woodson’s Her could have gone the easy route of showing Theodore with his phone, or try and create a physical representation of Samantha. Instead, we see Theodore walking alone, dwarfed by a monument of a plane standing on its nose. It’s daunting and helps reinforce how small and alone Theodore feels in the world. The absence of people here helps reinforce this manufactured isolation that has come from the existence of technology. Yet, the muted colours provide a warm, calming feeling. This is not a future to fear or be concerned about. It’s one to embrace and cooperate with.
15. The third Jurassic franchise entry on this list, and the last dinosaur related print, is Rich Kelly’s stunning Jurassic Park print. Like Jaws, it’s hard to top the original poster, but Mondo have certainly tried. Almost every artist on their roster has had a shot at this IP, and no doubt many will feel that their favourite is the best of the bunch (for what it’s worth, coming a close third is Todd Slater’s kaleidoscopic print). Yet, for me, none top Rich Kelly’s work.
The title Jurassic Park is part of nature here – it lingers behind Muldoon, waiting to pounce just like the circling raptors. What works so well about this print is that it simply oozes a feeling of being in the thick of a jungle, and out of your element. The sunlight seeps through the cracks in the foliage, and the shadows harbour the waiting mouths and claws of the velociraptor pack. Muldoon’s shotgun is dipped down, his eyes having locked on his impending doom. He has resigned to his fate. Man will never be able to ever truly conquer nature.
14. What you’re looking at below is the work of over 100 hours of artistry. The level of intricate filigree and flourishes that are applied to surround a plumage of smoke from a bursting, flaming oil well is mesmerising. To quote a Simpsons episode, it’s like a lava lamp.
Look, where I’ve written a bunch of words discussing the intricacies of a print before, I am simply at a loss for words for this print. It’s the print that hangs beside my bed, and is often the first thing I see in the morning. It’s powerful, impressive work. Aaron Horkey’s choice of green colouring for the variant gives a hint of American currency. I’m sure many are asking why this isn’t in the top ten, and I have to say the only reason is due to the titling being a little tough to read.
13. While David Cronenberg’s The Fly is not an exceptionally sexual film, it does still focus on the creation of a unique being. The organic, moist and sticky aspect of Brundle’s accidental creation is disturbing, and webuyyourkids print portrays the beginning of the union between Seth and the insect that seals his fate.
This close up of Seth’s hand hints at the image of naked Seth squatting, awaiting the outcome of his experiment. It’s a resigned, limp hand that hints at someone who has willingly put his life into the cradle of science. Mondo has, oddly, released a lot of prints that focus on hands, and there is no better display of the appendage that got us into the dilemmas we have gotten into than this print. Lest we forget the fact that without opposable thumbs we would not have the ability to create devices such as teleportation pods. One can’t help but ask, maybe we would be better off without them?
12. Back in the renegade days of Mondo, the notion of getting actor likeness approval or license approval was something that simply wasn’t entirely there. Likeness rights are when an actor has given approval for an artists representation of them in a print. The same goes for studio approval, where a studio or director has signed off on an artists concept that will be commercially sold as an item that represents their film. Way back when, those things were less of an issue and that’s how we end up with Todd Slater’s masterpiece – Goldfinger.
I would like to hope that Sean Connery would sign off on an image of his face being turned into gold bouillons. I won’t lie, I’m not a huge Bond fan, but I can certainly appreciate the creativity and genius here. Yes, it’s quite literal, but it’s so simply perfect that you can’t help wish it were the actual poster for the film. So mesmerising is this print, that it took me until a few months ago to realise that this print had images of the film in the background. And this is ten years old.
(Heck, this print is so darn great that even Christie’s wants a piece of it.
11. Robert Eggers The Witch is a modern horror classic. It’s a film that’s about the allure of ‘the other’, and all the chaos and confusion that that emotion brings with it. Religion, death, the supernatural, heaven, hell and the devil all are explored within the film, culminating in the climactic scenes with a pure black goat named Black Phillip. The children taunt the goat, jeering and dancing around the creature. The ominous woods hang close to the farm stead, its shadows reach far in a sunless sky.
Where Black Phillip is the pure representation of the Devil, he is also a figure of desire and represents the lurid, enticing aspects of witchcraft and evil. Aaron Horkey’s work represents an orgy of hands grooming and caressing a smiling Black Phillip. Horkey’s use of a wide array of oranges and blacks shows the death that fuels the autumnal season, and also that fuels the Ineson’s families downfall. Horkey’s work is equally as enticing as the film itself. A pure, perfect representation of a superb work of art.
Alright, that’s the 20 through to 11. Come back tomorrow for the Top Ten Mondo Prints.
Welcome to the sixth entry in this ten part Top 100 Mondo Prints. Make sure to check out the posts covering entries 100-91 and 90-81 and 80-71 and 70-61 and 60-51 and 50-41 and 40-31 and 30-21 and 20-11 and 10-1.
50. The climactic scenes of Steven Spielberg’s best film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, play out like a grand opera in the sky with the lights of the many UFO’s dancing to the John Williams score. This all takes place next to the backdrop of Devil’s Tower – a place that has somehow managed to be the calling ground for many around America. It’s a visually stunning sequence in a film that’s littered with many of them.
Todd Slater imbues his trademark style into this print superbly. The metallic sheen from the paper helps reinforce the bright variety of lights on the UFO, while also helping differentiate the UFO from the stars that surround it. Even with all the light from the ships, Devils Tower still sits in darkness – an homage to the original poster for the film. The use of glow in the dark ink helps make this print shine like a beacon in the night – so much so that I’ve had to move my framed version out of the bedroom into a place that won’t keep me up at night.
49. Mondo has created a fair amount of Hellboy related art, so it’s only fair that the creator of Hellboy gets to play in the wheelhouse of varied IP’s that Mondo has. It’s then apt that one of the films that Mike Mignola went with was for the gothic classic The Bride of Frankenstein.
The darkness of death and its closeness to love is explored in this superb print. Colour palettes that are familiar to those who read Hellboy appear here, dark crimson, pitch black, and white – all combined for a version of The Bride of Frankenstein that respects the film while recognising the legacy of Whale’s work and the impact that it has had on artists like Mignola and Guillermo del Toro is all captured here.
48. Dario Argento’s Deep Red is a giallo classic that drips with gore and blood in every way that you’d expect an Argento film to do. WeBuyYourKids appear once again, this time with work from their Tina’s Mom’s Boyfriend show in 2012. That show was one of many WeBuyYourKids/Sonny Day shows, and it helped establish the off kilter work that this Australian couple create.
The shades of red on display here is, apologies, deep and varied. David Hemmings scared face stares down an oncoming gloved hand that may or may not be coming to claim his life. The jpg of this print is nice, but the printed version elevates the image to a grander level. If only WBYK could do a whole series of giallo prints.
47. Tula Lotay returns with another print that showcases her skills at drawing the female figure. Here, Kristen Stewart wears a risque set of clothing that barely covers her. It is not hers to wear. It’s the celebrity whom she works for.
Personal Shopper is a film that deals with death and grieving, while also dealing with ones identity. The varied colours show Stewart in a sea of thoughts, both admiring herself in this forbidden costume, while also trying to figure out where she is in life as she grapples with grief. This is a powerful print without having seen the film, but after watching the film it takes on a new level.
46. Ken Taylor’s Poltergeist was one of the first Mondo prints that I tried to buy. Well, by ‘tried to buy’, I mean I saw it pop up on the site and, given this was back in 2010, I figured the print was going to still be available by morning. I was wrong of course.
It sold out quickly and this creepy tree and light out of a bedroom window has eluded me ever since. Ken’s work has had a repeated motif of trees and impending doom – his horror prints have been some of the finest out there. Poltergeist has a wealth of imagery to pull from, so for Ken to use a tree and a house is impressively audacious, but no less haunting. Eerie, unsettling and one that maybe I’m lucky isn’t hanging in my house as no doubt it’d scare me witless in the middle of the night.
45. Where João Ruas explored the fractured nature of war within The Thin Red Line, Toner Hanuka presents the exhaustive, tiring aspects of war. Within Malick’s film, war is something that happens while bureaucracy and boredom take a break. The tiring chains of command just to take one hill become exhaustive.
As a war that’s been raging for years and claimed millions of lives, World War II can only have felt tiring and have left soldiers questioning the depth of depravity that the human soul could reach down to. This contemplative moment of a man cleansing himself, washing himself of his sins while also refreshing him, making him anew, is powerful.
44. Tyler Stout’s style, as mentioned before, is often perceived as organised chaos. Well placed figures tell a story and suggest what narrative the film may follow. When Ken Taylor and Tyler Stout paired together to do a joint show, there was bound to be unique, different takes on their signature styles displayed.
So when Stout unveiled a print for Jacques Audiard’s prison film Un Prophete, it was jaw droppingly different from his regular ‘floating faces’ output. Tahar Rahim’s face looms large over the prison where he remains and his story plays out. Stout utilises the sparse ground of the yard to embody the emptiness of Rahim’s Malik’s life. It you haven’t seen Audiard’s film, then seek it out.
43. Outside of Mondo, the name Shepard Fairey is one of the largest in the art world. Fairey is the mind behind some of the most iconic modern street art – namely, the Obama campaign’s ‘Hope’ posters. One of the logos most closely associated with his name as an artist is the OBEY slogan. For fans of John Carpenter’s sci-fi eighties classic, They Live, this word alone will conjure a bunch of memories of aliens hiding in plain sight – pushing their capitalist agenda onto society.
Of all the licenses that Mondo could get, John Carpenter’s is one of the finest. So, naturally it’s a logical pairing of Fairey and They Live. And it doesn’t disappoint. As time has gone by – and with Trump as President – this frightening portrayal of a disfigured leader demanding their constituents ‘obey your dictator’ has become even more terrifying. As a print for the film, it’s apt and worthy. As a print for a society in peril, it’s even more applicable.
42. In the realm of Mondo prints, there is no more prolific artist than Mike Mitchell. His releases are seemingly endless, and his variety is through the roof. From his personal releases of fighting foods and fat animals, to his Mondo efforts of side profile characters to his Just Like Us series, and much more, it wouldn’t surprise me if Mike Mitchell turned out to be ten small men working day and night within the body of one regular man.
While the artistry of his other work is undeniable, it was fairly easy to be able to select this exceptionally cute Just Like Us entry with best friends 4 lyf Groot and Rocket hugging. With a title that’ll make you squee – Tree Hugger – and the exceptionally cute smiles that Mitchell gives Groot and Rocket, you can’t help but feel a warmth in your heart. Everything about this is designed to make you smile – as much of Mitchell’s work does. Mondo eventually moved into the world of toys, and in 2017 decided to release a full size version of this lovely print. Cuteness in a print is always welcome, but tangible cuteness is even better.
41. Jeff Proctor’s back with his impressive level of detail to gore and terror with this chilling Texas Chainsaw Massacre print. Leatherface looming over his victim, a blank face made up of previous victims. A raging chainsaw in his hands, prepped to reign doom. The victims hand hangs in the air, pleading for their life. The blood dripping down their fingers outlines their waning energy. The sun hangs in the sky, emanating a powerful heat so focused with the perfect choice of colours that you’d be forgiven for thinking it was real. This is the epitome of fear.
Tobe Hooper’s classic film is my third favourite film of all time – and it’s one that after a big screen viewing in 2014, I will not be watching it ever again. It’s simply that terrifying. Proctor works are creations that turn into eternal odes to fear and terror. He’s worked tirelessly to create homages to horror classics, and is a master at conveying the fear that the films he works on evoke. There’s no better piece in his oeuvre than this one.
Come back tomorrow for Part Seven… Entries 40-31…
Welcome to the fifth entry in this ten part Top 100 Mondo Prints. Make sure to check out the posts covering entries 100-91 and 90-81 and 80-71 and 70-61 and 60-51 and 50-41 and 40-31 and 30-21 and 20-11 and 10-1.
60. The third entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street series is one of the more creative entries. It places the lead character Kristen in a psychiatric hospital after fears that she’s suicidal – but really, it’s Freddy tinkering with her mind as she sleeps. Freddy arrives in the hospital with her where he wreaks havoc on the mentally ill. One such character – Taryn – is a drug addict seeking help. Her fate is sealed when Freddy transforms his blade covered glove into a hand of syringes, subsequently injecting her with amphetamines.
Jason Edmiston’s print is terrifying. Freddy stares at the viewer of the print with pure menace in his eyes. Yet, behind that menace you can still see the glee that Robert Englund brought to the character as he took another young soul. The character of Freddy is one to fear, and here he is a figure of terror rather than being a comical villain that many may remember him to be.
59. Just like Jay Shaw’s Don’t Go Out Tonight series, Olly Moss delivered a powerful series of prints that utilised a minimised colour palette. The series was the 2010 Rolling Roadshow series where films like Rocky, Dirty Harry, Jackie Brown, There Will Be Blood and Robocop all received iconic prints. Another entry from this series will appear later on, but for now we’ll look at his Robocop print.
Like the other entries in this series, Moss presents an idea that runs through the themes of the film in a unique fashion. Here, the creation of RoboCop from the body and mind of once dead cop Alex Murphy is presented in as literal a manner as possible – he is a weapon created for a specific purpose, (serve the public trust, protect the innocent and uphold the law) so it is only apt that the world he sees is through a weapons eyes. The darkness of the law has consumed Murphy, just like the corruption that has consumed the OCP who have created RoboCop.
58. When I was a kid, the work of Ray Harryhausen wowed me beyond words. Men fighting dinosaurs, skeletons and all manner of mythical beasts. It was impossible, but sure enough, Harryhausen managed to make it real through his ground breaking and era defining stop motion animation. One of the iconic films was the 1969 action-western classic, The Valley of Gwangi. Cowboys versus dinosaurs. It’s like a kids toybox overflowed into a movie studio and suddenly became a film.
Mike Saputo’s work here evokes an era that The Valley of Gwangi wasn’t released in. Namely, 1920’s – 1930’s action adventure films. The exaggerated Tyrannosaurus looms over the valley, caught in a trap as a fire rages behind him. Saputo shows the excitement that the film promises (and delivers) in all its raging glory. Chaos reigns, and boy is it something to behold.
57. JC Richard’s work on this Jurassic Park print was, for the longest time, the must have Mondo Jurassic Park print. After the gallery show dedicated to this classic film, that is no longer the case. However, Richard’s work is one of the few to showcase the dinosaurs of John Hammond’s doomed park in a positive light. The Brachiosaurus are docile, gentle creatures who make their way throughout regions of the park with ease.
Vegetarian Lex finds refuge in the chaos with a beast that doesn’t want to kill her, and Richard displays this touchingly with her silhouette reaching out to feed one of the gentle giants. But under this quiet calm, there is chaos that rages, with the bottom of the print showcasing a moment that very well may be occurring at the same time as Lex is feeding the Brachiosaurus – the T-Rex chasing Ellie Sattler, Robert Muldoon and injured Ian Malcolm in the jeep. Richard’s print captures the wonder of Jurassic Park perfectly.
56. Alex Pardee’s gore is much like Jeff Proctor’s viscera – they both feel like they were drawn by bored school kids just whiling away the hours in class, doodling on their text books all manner of mad things. Of course, these have a lot more artistic quality than that of a school kid, but the core idea of coming up with inventive ways to showcase the blood and guts of their favourite horror films is there.
Pardee’s Scream is so crazy that you can’t help wonder why someone hadn’t done it sooner. One of the most batshit crazy deaths of Scream takes place right at the opening of the film. After Drew Barrymore has been tormented over the phone, she eventually meets a gruesome fate. As her mother discovers her hanging body, the camera crash zooms on her corpse – briefly catching a glimpse of the pile of guts on the ground. For Pardee to take that blink and you’ll miss it shot and turn it into the iconic Scream mask is genius.
55. The War of the Worlds as directed by Byron Haskin is many viewers first foray into H.G. Wells’ great story. What makes Haskin’s film such a memorable one is the way he displays the tripods – which, due to limitations at the time, they were reduced to being floating saucers. The ships laser zapping eye that peers from the top of the chrome and neon green unit is a terrifying thing, and artists Stan & Vince (Stan Manoukian and Vincent Roucher) portray that perfectly. You can almost hear the ear piercing sound as the laser destroys all in its path.
Stan & Vince are relatively new to the Mondo fold, and with their first release they have hit it out of the park. The colours are bright, popping off the print like a freshly cut technicolour print. The little details are what makes this print though, namely the reflection on the underside of the ship, the sly nod to the original radio show with a billboard on the side of the building (‘Radio Fake Scares Nation’), and even the individual strands of the main characters hair. Like Mike Saputo’s Pet Sematary print, this War of the Worlds print is one to lose yourself in.
54. Laurent Durieux’s The Master is overwhelmingly orange. So much so that the print becomes hypnotic. Stare too long in to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s eyes and you’ll feel yourself becoming weak at the knees, your world spins, you start to lose the concept of what is real and what is unreal. You suddenly find yourself answering a series of questions without blinking. Later, you wake, finding yourself riding a motorbike into the middle of nowhere.
Ok, maybe none of that happens, but it certainly is very hypnotic and very orange. Amy Adams hand just resting on Hoffman’s shoulder is most certainly creepy, raising imagery of the silent wife standing by the monumental wannabe religious figure. Durieux’s choice to use the concentric circles reminds us of sideshow hypnotists, using basic techniques to dive into the subjects mind. A perfect companion print to Jay Shaw’s 2017 Get Out work.
53. The last of the Phantom City Creative prints that are on this list is also one of the most exciting ones that they’ve ever done. Just like Alex Pardee’s Scream print, PCC’s The Burning print takes a basic idea within the film and turns it into something much more nefarious. The river of dread runs far and wide within Tony Maylam’s eighties video nasty, and PCC’s imagery leaves the necessary lump in your throat.
Blood and guts are a recurring motif in eighties horror films (and, of course, Mondo prints), and the concept of a faceless man tormenting a group of kids at a camp is nothing new – but with this print, The Burning is elevated above being basic genre fair. The film is great and one that’s worth seeing on the basis of this film alone – the gore promised here is delivered in spades.
52. Daniel Danger’s staple imagery is that of houses or rooms in disarray. Whether it be a house that’s collapsing, or a room full of books, there’s a key eye for detail that impresses the most. What better way to pair a room full of conflict that for the film The Royal Tenenbaums – a film that is all about a family overrun by regular familial issues.
Danger’s choice to not showcase the key figure of Royal is a notable one as instead he opts to showcase a scene that embodies who the characters within the family Tenenbaum really are – real people in hiding. By contrasting a family member tucked underneath a table with images of animals, we can’t help but think of the notion that maybe all our families are (well, at least the Tenenbaum’s) are overrun zoos.
51. Kim Ki-Duk’s Pieta is a film that disturbs and contorts your mind. Jay Shaw is, naturally as you’ve already seen, the appropriate artist to present such a film in an artistic format. The weeping Pieta is a statue that shows Mary mourning over the dead body of Jesus, and in Kim Ki-Duk’s film, that relationship between mother and son is wrought with trauma and issues.
The blood red tears paired with the swan diving figure give off an alluring ‘what if’ feeling that drives you to want to watch the film. The navy blue paper helps accentuate the difficult and complex emotions that Ki-Duk’s film explores. The fact that Mondo released a print for a Kim Ki-Duk film once again shows their desire to create works for even the smallest films.
Ok, that’s it for this week! Come back Monday for the second half of this Top 100 Mondo Prints list.
Welcome to the fourth entry in this ten part Top 100 Mondo Prints. Make sure to check out the posts covering entries 100-91 and 90-81 and 80-71 and 70-61 and 60-51 and 50-41 and 40-31 and 30-21 and 20-11 and 10-1.
70. The HBO TV Series Westworld has brought a haunting world of science fiction to life in all its multi-million dollar glory, but for many, Michael Crichton’s original film remains the holy grail of robot western theme parks gone awry stories. Yul Brynner’s somewhat emotionless expression helps evoke that feeling of hopelessness as the theme park spirals out of control.
Methane Studios captures Brynner’s memorable gaze, replete with a red eyed, piercing glare. His face falls away like computer code over an almost unnecessary silhouette. Methane Studios work has often been seen as the ‘filler’ work of Mondo’s outputs, but it’s prints like their Westworld one that reminds that they are most than that.
69. How do you even begin with topping the greatest movie poster of all time? (Vertigo by Saul Bass). Well, the easiest answer is, you don’t even try. There have been endless amounts of grand Vertigo prints – Gary Pullin’s eyeball and bright orange print being a particularly notable entry – but out of Mondo’s output, it’s WeBuyYourKids output that feels wholly unique and explorative of the themes within Hitchcock’s classic.
The repeating motifs within Vertigo have been consistently explored in different prints – yet none have really touched on the imagery of the flowers in the way that WBYK do. Kim Novak’s silhouette carries an exhausted appearance in her lips. Her iconic hairstyle has been replaced by a bouquet of bright, glorious flowers. It’s mesmerising and hypnotic.
68. Alejandro Jodorowsky’s mind is like no other on this planet. To encapsulate the bizarre realms of his work, there is no better artist to lean on than Florian Bertmer. Everything on this print has a purpose and is executed perfectly.
The typeset of the title. The intricate and kaleidoscopic circular background. The two goats. And of course, the mysterious figure in the centre. The art directors of Mondo are often the hidden masters behind the art – understanding how to pair an artist with an intellectual property is almost a fine art in itself. So, to pair Florian Bertmer with The Holy Mountain is a stroke of genius. Bertmer’s work is often great, but no better than right here.
67. While the key output of Mondo’s print work is for film properties, they have started branching out to other intellectual properties like comics, TV shows and video games. Oddly, in the world of screenprints, there haven’t been as many prints for video games as you’d expect. Gradually Mondo have eked out a place for these prints to flourish, and one of their early examples is the collaboration between Olly Moss and Jay Shaw for Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us.
For those unfamiliar, The Last of Us takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has been overrun by a mutated strain of the cordyceps fungus. Oh, of course, that fungus, I hear you say. Well, this particular fungus weaves its way in to the mind of the creature it’s taken over. Moss and Shaw present this fearsome spore in a skin-itchingly beautiful manner – it’s unsettling, but it’s a sight to behold.
66. The first of two entries for Terence Malick’s war epic, The Thin Red Line, is João Ruas’ disturbing take on the desperate nature of war. A man appears to claw his way out from the shirt of a soldier. The face of that soldier is torn in various directions by a tree like element. The soldiers gun is held in a fashion that suggests he’s not prepared for war.
The sole red dot gives a hint of the battles on Guadalcanal between the US army and Japanese soldiers. A white dot where the sun should be hovers in the top right corner – suggesting that just like the soldiers face, these men are out of place and almost out of time. Malick’s film explores the hopelessness of the wars we fight in. A poster is often a tool to help sell or promote a film. Here, Ruas’ work is an extension of the film, adding to the conversation rather than trying to promote it.
65. The Thing is one of those properties that Mondo has explored through the eyes of many artists. For some, Tyler Stout’s early print is the pinnacle for the film, for others it’s Jason Edmiston’s wide open landscape. For clarity, I’ve opted to not include Drew Struzan’s iconic poster in this list as it was created long before Mondo was an established company.
Jock’s print feels like the first that truly grips onto the disparate and desperate mood that drives the alien creature within John Carpenter’s classic film. Survival is tough and painful. Survival is organic, something that runs through your veins. While for us mere humans the concept of an alien creature taking down people on a remote Antarctic station immediately conjures up the notion that the creature is driven by malice. Jock’s print suggests that while the creature at times takes on a human form, it never stops being a creature that is driven by the need to survive. The tortured face that stretches up into the darkness here displays the pain associated with that survival, whether it be the alien or the men whose numbers are limited.
64. Mondo’s television print output has been widely varied and interesting – they’ve had gallery shows dedicated to Game of Thrones, Adventure Time and Regular Show and of course a huge Nickelodeon showcase. While Bryan Fuller’s take on Thomas Harris’s greatest murderer – Hannibal Lecter – never got a dedicated gallery show, Mondo did still release some truly fantastic prints for it. Daniel Danger’s bookshelf is suitably ominous. Kevin Tong’s stag in the snow is daunting. But, none have topped the duplicity of Hannibal in the way that Phantom City Creative’s two Hannibal prints have done.
Here, Mads Mikkelsen’s killer is presented in both forms – a dapper, blood drenched pin stripe suit, and from Will Graham’s visions as a tar drenched antler-adorned soulless being. Phantom City Creative’s likeness for Mikkelsen is exact, with the head tilt they apply to his regular form showcasing the alluring, attractive quality that Mikkelsen brought to the role of the serial killer.
63. William Stout’s status as an art legend was cemented in history long before he started working with Mondo. His work on films as a production/creature/art designer is stunning, but his work with paleontological art is where I find the most joy in his work. It’s expressive and exhaustive in ways that much paleontological art isn’t – his creatures feel alive, and almost as if they are about to leap off the page.
By pairing Stout with one of the greatest cinematic creatures – King Kong -, Mondo hit a goldmine. Like Franceso Francavilla’s work earlier, Stout’s thick lines help accentuate the creatures on display here. Kong looms over both his conquered foe and the title, beating his chest in celebration of who he is and what he has done. The muted colours suggest the doom that lays in wait in Kong’s future. Impressively chaotic, this is Kong, the king of the jungle, the king of his domain, before mankind comes along to ruin everything. You can just feel the awe that Stout has for this creation dripping from the print.
62. The first time I saw WeBuyYourKids Alien print, I just knew that I had to have it. Its unique, bizarre, microscopic cell like take on Ridley Scott’s classic film is unlike any other Alien print out there. It’s insane and green and curious and fascinating and did I mention it’s green? It’s so very green. I’ve stared at this print for longer than I probably should, mostly because it’s just so very darn expressive. Alien is not really an expressive film – it’s a quiet alien slasher film in space that relies on the darkness and unseen to help fuel its fear factor.
But, what works so well for me with this great Alien print is (just like Jock’s The Thing, and in fact, WeBuyYourKids The Thing print) that the alien lays dormant inside the skull and mind of the human body. Of course, the memorable death of John Hurt’s Kane first comes to mind with the alien bursting out of his chest, but what else comes to mind is the translucent membrane that is Giger’s aliens head, with a human-like skull peering from within the black viscera. At once, mankind is the alien, and the alien is us.
Plus, the print is really fucking green.
61. Way back in 2012, Jay Shaw ran a solo show titled Don’t Go Out Tonight. It was a stark series of prints based on the films released by Blue Underground. It’s a bonkers set of film prints, with memorable pieces done for films like Salon Kitty, Q: The Winged Serpent, The New York Ripper and Torso. It’s evocative and creepy stuff with black, white, red and yellow making up the distinct palate.
While all the prints in the series are impressive, it’s Shaw’s take on Sergio Corbucci’s Django that hits the right marks. The cowboys boot spur being transformed into a wheel of guns spitting bullets all around the place is genius and as fantastic a representation of the Western genre as could be. The fun and thrill from the genre is palpable here, and out of all the prints in the Don’t Go Out Tonight series, this one leaves you with the need to seek out this film.
Tune back tomorrow for the end of week one’s output and entries 60-51…
Welcome to the third entry in this ten part Top 100 Mondo Prints. Make sure to check out the posts covering entries 100-91 and 90-81 and 80-71 and 70-61 and 60-51 and 50-41 and 40-31 and 30-21 and 20-11 and 10-1.
80. Francesco Francavilla’s thick, black lines and retro inspired work is often applied to comic book stories or prints. His work with Marvel, Dark Horse Comics and DC Comics is truly a sight to see, and when he pairs that aesthetic with his Mondo prints, it creates a winning combination. His Mondo prints have carried this pulp aesthetic across perfectly, and in many ways it’s hard to pick exactly what Francavilla print to shine a light on.
However, as I sifted through his many great prints, I kept coming back to his brilliant representation of the Desmond Davis directed, Ray Harryhausen driven, Clash of the Titans. The iconic Medusa sits large with her terrifying gaze staring directly at you – Francavilla captures her soul staring eyes perfectly, pairing it with other great iconic creatures. While Clash of the Titans is a 1980’s classic, this print makes it feel like it should have come out in the 50’s. A timeless print for a timeless film.
79. The first of many Jay Shaw prints on this list – six in total – is this almost laugh out loud, but no less bad ass print of Rocky III. Jay Shaw’s work here feels like the response to the hardest challenge of all – how to make a Rocky print without Rocky on it. The Oscar nominated Survivor song Eye of the Tiger is as iconic as Rocky Balboa himself, and Shaw’s print is a direct homage to that song.
Shaw’s Rocky III crosses the line of absurdity, heading into the realm of pure genius, and then traipses right back across that absurdity line again. Shaw’s work has consistently strayed from black and white through to bright colours, and it’s his clear understanding of how to manage a colour palette that elevates him into that ‘Mount Rushmore’ of Mondo artists, right alongside Martin Ansin. The black and white of this print is truly brilliant.
78. Vania Zouravliov’s work is like nothing else in the Mondo oeuvre. Almost dream-like, it eschews the traditional screenprint aesthetic completely. While some of Vania’s work is more miss than hit, there are some that are truly home runs. His collaboration with Aaron Horkey – a mystical, transformative, ethereal and haunting print for Tod Browning’s Dracula – is one of them. Even with its all timer status, it doesn’t hit the same spot for me in the same way that many of Aaron’s other work has, and in this circumstance, as much as Vania’s 13 Assassin’s does.
Takashi Miike’s film is on brand with the directors traditional violence and gore. But, there’s a contemplative slant to it that helps fuel its Seven Samurai-esque visage. It’s quite possibly Miike’s best film, full of grand, larger than life characters, and glorious cinematography. Zouravliov’s print somehow manages to embody all of this into one sweeping action. Yes, there’s decidedly a lot less than 13 assassins on the print, but the sweeping motion that the sole figure is in suggest a raging battle beyond the borders of the frame.
77. For many, the first time that Mondo became a company to keep an eye on as a purveyor of pop culture art, was with Olly Moss’s Star Wars trilogy set. Yes, I’m well aware that it’s almost blasphemous to suggest that out of all of Mondo’s output, this is the 77th ‘best’ print that they’ve released, after all, shouldn’t this be in the top 10? There’s a strong possibility that the ubiquitousness of this grand trilogy of iconic prints has caused me to slightly tire of them – even though the intelligence in their design is undeniable.
Often imitated (by other artists, and Moss himself), but never bettered, this trilogy is the ultimate challenge to the great Tom Jung and Drew Struzan originals. This is possibly the pinnacle of Moss’s work – the silhouettes of iconic characters making up the events within the films – but for me, my affection for Star Wars is simply not as high as many others, and there is a couple more Moss prints to come.
76. Aaron Horkey’s Dead Man is the sort of print that you’d expect to be hung in an art museum. It’s comparatively small against other Mondo releases (traditionally, they’re a 24×36 inch size), coming in at 7×16.5 inches, yet it squeezes an infinite amount of artistry into a small space. The ornate, almost illegible title is simply beautiful, and paired with an eerie and otherworldly deer that has a flower as a head, well, this is an unforgettable print.
However, with that said, even though this is a stunning print, it sits at number 76 mostly because as a representation of the film Dead Man, it’s sadly misses the mark. This is not to take away the beauty within it, it’s just a worthwhile note that for the film it’s representing, it doesn’t ‘sell’ the film all too well. With that all said – if you ever get the chance to see this beautiful print in person, do it.
75. Jeff Proctor’s ability to display gore and horror is unmatched. The viscera on display on many of his prints will have many questioning the person who decides to frame it on their walls. Take one glimpse at his gut churning Maniac print and you’ll know what I mean.
Here, Proctor manages to transform the signature gore in Lucio Fulci’s madhouse film Zombie (aka Zombi 2 aka Zombie Flesh Eaters) into a fun, yet no less ominous print. One of the iconic scenes of Fulci’s film is the underwater tussle between a zombie and a shark – it has to be seen to be believed. Proctor presents the two beasts here in a fight to the death, beckoning the viewer to seek out Fulci’s film.
74. If there were one name that many people immediately associate with Mondo and all things screenprints, it’s Tyler Stout. A true master of the art, Stout has managed to turn the floating head format into something to behold – it’s a far cry from what lines the multiplexes we all attend religiously. For one of the signature Mondo Mystery Movies, Stout created an atomic bomb of a print for the anime classic, Akira.
A master artist is able to imitate other artists style, yet all the while retaining their own style. Here, Stout manages to display the aesthetic of Akira wondrously, with each key character presented in a thematically appropriate pose. This is organised chaos, with the extensive explosion helping to centre your eye, eventually directing your gaze to its peripheral fallout.
73. William Friedken’s pseudo-remake of Wages of Fear, Sorcerer, focuses on a truck carrying volatile cargo as it travels across precarious terrain. It’s tense. It’s taut. It’s knuckle biting stuff.
Jay Shaw appears again on this list with his portrayal of that fateful tale. The truck sits on a slanted terrain as a cloud of death-smoke hangs ominously over it. Shaw once again embodies the mood of a film with ease in this print. The dark crimson provides a stark backing for a treacherous story.
72. Ferris Bueller is a bit of a dick. He manages to ruin his friend Cameron’s life in more ways than one as their day out in Chicago goes from outlandish event to outlandish event. This culminates in Cameron’s fathers prized possession – a grand red 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder – being destroyed as they foolishly attempt to ‘rewind’ the speedometer. It’s an ignorant and destructive action that cements what a fool Ferris is.
Jay Ryan is a genuine master of screenprints, and while his output for Mondo has been less prolific than many other artists, one look at his work on The Bird Machine will show that his output of art prints puts many to shame. Here, he turns his exceptional talent towards capturing that iconic scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in all its necessary glory. By displaying this moment, Ryan recognises that Bueller is not the hero many think he is, and appears to ask, is all this destruction and family devastation worth it just for one ‘day off’?
71. In the first of many entries for Ken Taylor on this list, we take a look at his creepy print for the F.W. Murnau classic Nosferatu. Max Schreck’s tendril like fingers loom over the tableau like the mysterious and nefarious being that he inhabits.
Created to be paired with his iconic Metropolis print (more on that later), this Nosferatu print feels as era appropriate for a thematically dark black and white film. Nosferatu creeps and leers with eyes that feel like they follow you in the room you have it hanging. For extra horror effect, hang this behind a door.
Swing back tomorrow for part four…
90. Rich Kelly’s early work presented characters in skewed, zany poses. Take a look at the warped Chewbacca in his early Star Wars print, or the sketched Bottle Rocket characters. As he’s progressed as an artist, that particular aesthetic has slipped away. What remains is the same artistic quality right behind some impressively powerful imagery. His recent Shaun of the Dead print is one of the finest for the film, capturing the mania and chaos within Edgar Wright’s cult classic.
On the flipside, his 2014 work for the Coen Brothers best film (fight me, go on), Inside Llewyn Davis, is subdued and draped in melancholy. There’s a sadness that is draped across this print, one that evokes the feeling of Llewyn Davis – a man who always tries to be the best self he can be, but happenstance and fate has him doomed to never succeed. The sun is always behind him, with everyone walking in a different direction – heading away from the narrative that he is trying to write.
89. In terms of iconic Mondo prints, you really don’t get more iconic than Martin Ansin’s early Universal Monsters prints. His versions of Dracula, The Bride of Frankenstein and The Phantom of the Opera alone would all be career best prints from anybody. The fact Ansin did all three, and Metropolis within a short period of time truly cements him on the Mount Rushmore of Mondo artists. (Subnote: years later, Ansin created another iconic career best print with his Ghost in the Shell print.)
Dracula was released in three variants – a red backed regular, a grey backed variant, and most importantly, a coffin shaped print. Fancy, unique sized variants are usually eye rolling-ly bad, but this is as apt a variant as possible. What appears to be a simple picture of Dracula, this is as multilayered as the character himself. (Take a look at his shadow.)
88. A short spoiler alert – Olly Moss’s Evil Dead print will appear further up the list. It’s the perfect companion print to Todd Slater’s early work. One is a print that evokes the terror of the first Raimi film, the other (Slater’s) evokes the manic glee of the sequel.
The iconic house is as memorable as Bruce Campbell’s Ash, and Slater puts it front and centre here with it making up the eyes of a definitely laughing face. The house itself is a site of terror in Raimi’s film, one that bathes in gore in endless glee.
87. Martin Ansin appears again, this time showcasing a print that’s miles apart from his 89 entry Dracula. Here, the camp factor of the 1966 Batman series is on display in all its vibrant glory. While I personally wouldn’t hang a Batman print, it’s undeniable the pure joy and affection within this print for this ground-breaking series.
Adam West’s simple Batman costume is front and centre, with the gallery of loveable rogues behind him. This is pure fun. Echoing myself, but this is another career best effort from Ansin.
86. Lars von Trier is a director who you’d almost expect to be low on the list of directors whose work would get a screenprint of. But, one of the great aspects of Mondo is that they don’t just deliver prints for blockbuster films, they also cater for the small, independent, arthouse fare.
While it was a tough choice between Tomer Hanuka’s great Melancholia print, or David V. D’Andrea’s Antichrist print, it was the doom forseeing fox that won out. The aged parchment feel of this print helps reinforce the fractured relationship that von Trier’s horror covers. This feels like the front cover of an age old tome that tells a Shakespearean (or maybe it’s the Marquis de Sade?) that has been dug out of a dark, long dormant tomb.
85. As I compiled entries for this list, I kept getting this niggling feeling that there was a print I was missing. Surely there was something Ryan Gosling related that was missing. I kicked myself when I realised that Rory Kurtz’s Drive print was missing.
Drive, like many other IP’s that Mondo have, has had many, many ‘best’ versions – Ken Taylor’s adorns my walls, but Matthew Woodson’s is just as great, and Tyler Stout’s versions are intriguing – but none capture LA, Gosling and the mood of Nicolas Winding Refn’s cult film as well as Kurtz’s work.
84. Again with Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining! But Andrew, you said that Kleinsmith’s print was the best version of a print for that film. Yep, well, um… anyhow.
Full disclosure, this is the first of seven WeBuyYourKids prints on this list. I won’t lie – I love their work. This 2008 The Shining print works equally well as Kleinsmith’s print. Here, the many roles of Torrance are displayed in all their grotesque glory – husband, father, writer, caretaker, madman, murderer – and as they consume Jack, he no longer becomes recognisable as himself. He has become a demon.
83. Tula Lotay is a fairly recent entry into the Mondo artist pantheon. Her painterly images make you wonder how the heck it’s a screenprint (Jason Edmiston’s work is possibly to thank for this). When Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman came out, it became evident very quickly that Lotay would be the ideal artist to bring Diana to life.
Standing in an almost ethereal manner, Lotay’s portrayal of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is obviously godlike. Hovering like a deity, you can imagine easily the devastation that Diana can bring onto her foes, but equally, you can see the caring figure that she is. Lotay draws the female figure like nobody else in the Mondo library.
82. Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room is an anxiety attack of a film. It’s punk driven narrative is an ode to bands like Black Flag – take no prisoners music that is balls to the wall and letting you know exactly what the fuck it’s there for.
The gore in Green Room is immediate and gut wrenching. Your stomach twists as Anton Yelchin pulls his arm back from the crack of a door after being attacked by an unseen man, the skin and viscera in tethers. Oliver Barrett pairs that scene with Black Flag’s iconic punk album. It’s so genius, it hurts.
81. If you were a horror fan when Drew Goddard’s The Cabin in the Woods came out, you knew that you couldn’t tell anybody about what went on in it. Heck, if you haven’t seen it by now – do, but go in as blind as you can.
Phantom City Creative’s print works as a great calling card for what the film is – an Escher painting of fear. It’s even more impressive that it doesn’t spoil a thing for those who haven’t seen it, but for fans, it’s a perfect representation of the horror intricacies within the film. (The honeycomb overlay being a super nice touch.)
That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for entries 80-71…
First things first, I know launching a top 100 Mondo screenprints list right as the CEO of the Alamo Drafthouse is in the midst of an industry wide sexual harassment scandal, is problematic. I’ll point you in the direction of my piece about the problems with Tim League and Devin Faraci right here for further information.
With that in mind, let’s take this down a notch and get personal. Film posters are a huge part of my hobby – I’ve been a lover and admirer of film screenprints for years now. When we travelled to America for the first time in 2011, we made a journey down to Austin – in part to visit the Mondo store. My first proper screenprint was Phantom City Creative’s Werewolves on Wheels poster – a print that was released on a Tuesday evening after the screening.
As you’ll read throughout these ten lists, I’ve made friends through this hobby and travelled to places I didn’t think I would just to be with folks associated with this hobby. For a bit of background on the hobby and my experience with it, give my review of 24×36 A Movie About Movie Posters a read here.
I could go on and on, but let’s let the art talk for itself. Come back each day over the next two weeks to see what prints have made it into my top 100 – and at the end, let me know what you would have put into the list.
100. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is a pinnacle of horror cinema. In an era when slasher reigned the horror genre, The Shining cycled along through the long hallways that make up the maze that is horror and announced itself as a force to be reckoned with. For many, this is Kubrick’s best film. For me, it’s not high on my ‘Best of’ Kubrick list, but I can appreciate its fantastic intricacies.
Mondo has created multiple Shining related prints – in fact, even going so far as to create an Easter egg laden print for the ‘documentary’ Room 237 – and it’s Kliensmith’s effort that showcases the mania that runs through Jack Torrance’s mind the best. Another Shining print will feature on this list, but it’s Kliensmith’s early Mondo work that helped cement Mondo as being a company to keep an eye on. Jack standing trapped in the maze of his mind is as apt a representation of the torturous events within Kubrick’s horror classic.
99. Within the world of film screenprints, there may often be a desire to showcase an iconic scene. After all, our memories of the films we love are driven by iconic moments, so it’s only natural that we want to have those moments captured in print form to frame and look at daily. While Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World may not be the worlds most adored film about man eating dinosaurs, it does at least have some truly spectacular CGI mayhem on display.
Shan Jiang’s Jurassic World print portrays the outcome of the jaw dropping dino fight that makes up the climax of the film. The films ‘Chekovs gun’ (the aquatic mosasaurus) makes its presence known as the battle between the T-Rex and the Indominus Rex rages on. Leaping out of the water, it drags the Indominus Rex into the water, and we as the viewer are left to wonder what the heck is going on down below. Jiang’s print shows the brutal death of the Indominus Rex in superb orange and blue glory. This may not be for everybody, but for me, the way Jiang captures death of two gargantuan beasts and the downfall of the once operational Jurassic World is exactly what ten year old me dreamed I would see one day on film.
98. Mondo have become well known as creating some of the finest series of prints for different pop culture properties. Whether it’s the never ending Star Wars related material, or the deep dive into the Universal Monsters series, Mondo always delivers. An almost never ending well of material was tapped with the Batman license.
In one of the almost endless Phantom City Creative Batman prints, the fan favourite villain Harley Quinn is shown in pin-up fashion straddling a falling bomb. It’s Dr Strangelove by way of Batman – and it’s glorious. There’s a certain glee in Harley Quinn’s smile that says she knows fully well the destruction that’s on its way – and she cannot wait.
97. A fair amount of the early Mondo prints either had a very Xerox-esque feel to them or appeared to be simply a photo transferred on to paper. They all have a great, independent, off the record, on the QT, very hush-hush feel to them – the sort of poster you’d expect to find stuck up at the back of your local record shop. Honestly, if this list were another 100 entries long, you’d most likely have seen more than a fair few of those entries on that list.
However, this is only 100 entries long and because of that I’ve opted to go with the best Terminator print that Mondo has released. While regular artists Ken Taylor, Kilian Eng, Jason Edmiston and Tom Whalen have all created stunning Terminator prints, it’s Yann Legendre’s doom laden print that captures the mood and fear that seeps into the seams of James Cameron’s iconic sci-fi flick. We don’t see who is pointing a gun at this woman’s face – we just know that it’s not good. If you haven’t seen Terminator, then you could think this would be just a regular story of death; but when you have seen Terminator, you know that this could possibly be any of the Sarah Connor’s in the phone book, and you know what’s coming for them. And it aint good.
96. Just like the Terminator series, there have been many prints made for Sylvester Stallone’s iconic Rocky series. There’s another entry into that series coming up later on this list, but for now, the best print released by Mondo that helps evoke the feelings of the Oscar winning film is Cesar Moreno’s Rocky print. Here, Stallone’s Rocky is a deity – an ethereal figure who lines a print that wouldn’t be out of place on the walls of a boxing arena. The filigree and colours evoke a very Italian feel that is the natural undercurrent of Stallone’s film.
Honestly, it’s hard to pick just one great Rocky print, and if he didn’t already appear a few times later on, Olly Moss’s great print could have been in this place. However, Moreno’s likeness of Stallone is spot on and one look at this print immediately tells you the drive that’s within Balboa and the iconic Rocky theme will start ringing in your mind.
95. As with Yann Lagendre’s Terminator print, Delicious Design’s Rashomon feels like it could just be a photo with some fancy stuff placed on it and put on paper. But good art design can often appear simple and make you say ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ (Anybody who has looked at a Olly Moss’s work will no doubt have said, damn, why didn’t I think of that?)
Delicious Design’s work on this great Rashomon print shows the multi-tiered levels within the story that Kurosawa weaves in one of his many masterpieces. Each ring on Takashi Shimura’s face shows different shades of the same story – with a red dot right in the middle that is the truth. These ‘alternative film prints’ were designed to honour the film they’re representing, and to entice people into seeking them out. Delicious Design’s work here does exactly that.
94. The nature of Mondo prints has the artists providing their own artistic spin on a film. Part of the drive of screenprints is to provide a genuine alternative to the often hum-drum and bland floating heads posters that litter cinemas around the world. Jock’s work since he joined the illustrious list of Mondo artists in 2011 has gone from strength to strength. Each new release is as great as the last one. Each release feels as if it is the official poster for the film it’s based on.
This is no more evident than his work for the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. Literally oozing with neon green colours, this print had me having my own ‘Sinbad was in Shazaam’ moment when I first saw it. I was convinced that it was the official poster – that’s how good it is. The nostalgia that Jock’s work evokes is undeniable. Pair that with the pure excitement that the leaping and fighting turtles conjures, and you’ve got a winning print.
93. James Rheem Davis’ work has often had a dirty, gritty feel to it. It feels like someone has photocopied a bunch of different pictures together, compiling them in to one torturous picture. His Nightmare on Elm Street provides a take on Freddy’s iconic glove that leaves a mark on your mind – seriously, take a look at that print, then close your eyes and tell me what you see.
Two white, terrified eyes. Those two eyes peering through the blades of Freddy’s glove stare directly into your soul as if they’re pleading for help. White faux-tears on the paper are paired with dark black and vibrant red colours. Close your eyes again and what do you see? Freddy’s iconic striped shirt. Davis’ work lingers in your mind like all great art should. A perfect pairing for a nearly perfect film.
92. Tom Whalen’s work regularly pairs two contrasting colours together to provide depth in the image he creates. I’m certain that there are many of you who will be asking ‘why isn’t Frozen on the list? Why isn’t Toy Story on the list?’ and I hear your cries. I apologise. While those works are good, there is none that tops Whalen’s great portrayal of High Noon.
Here, the town has literally become a ticking clock, with Gary Cooper’s Marshall standing in the middle. If you haven’t seen High Noon, then Whalen’s print provides with you a stunning sense of unease and impending doom. The clock almost consumes Cooper, and paired with the tagline ‘the story of a man who was too proud to run’, you’re already provided with the foundations of the dilemma that drives High Noon.
91. Jonathan Burton’s work has gotten grander and grander as he’s progressed. There is an ethereal quality to his work that makes his prints for Rosemary’s Baby and Vertigo feel truly otherworldly. With House on Haunted Hill, Burton has presented the mythic antics of William Castle in all its spooky glory.
Vincent Price sits sleekly smiling, draped in shadows. A skeleton grins in the window frame, holding up a hanging woman. Lightning cracks in the distance. All of these elements evoke the spine tingling feelings that no doubt would have occurred if you managed to see a William Castle film in its original gimmick driven format. A great poster will sell you on the film on what it promises, and Burton’s work does exactly that.
So that’s the first ten in this top 100 Mondo prints. Come back tomorrow to see what’s next on the list…
Accountability at the Alamo Drafthouse: Devin Faraci, Tim League and the Issue with Problematic IconsSeptember 20th, 2017
In the lead up to The Art of Mondo book being released, I had written up a list covering my top 100 Mondo screen prints. Ranging all the way back to 2006 through to just a few months ago, the list covered the deep and varied array of works that the many, many artists under the Mondo banner had created. I’ve been a screen print collector for more than a few years now (even though it still feels like I’ve only just begun) and have somehow managed to amass drawers full of coloured paper in my house that will simply sit there doing little more than provide welcome nostalgia trips. They show off films and bands and games that I love, and are created by artists whose work I’ve grown to appreciate as they’ve matured over the years. It’s a long list full of thousands of words that I think is worthwhile.
But then Tim League went and quietly announced that controversial film critic Devin Faraci had been working under the Alamo Drafthouse banner ever since he stood down as editor in chief of Birth.Movies.Death. Faraci resigned from that position late in 2016 after allegations of sexual assault emerged. Faraci didn’t deny that these assaults occurred, instead appearing to step out of the public life to ‘get help’. The help, it turns out, was instead continuing his employment under the Alamo Drafthouse banner by doing copywriting work for the cinema. This news came forth just as Fantastic Fest – another off shoot of the umbrella that is Alamo – ramped up promotion for their 2017 festival.
Immediately, the backlash hit. Tim League, being the CEO of the Drafthouse chain and its ancillary companies, threw out a long, yet trite, explanation for Faraci’s rehiring on Facebook. It didn’t go down well with the film loving community, and pretty quickly there were casualties – namely, Fantastic Fest programmer Todd Brown, who announced his resignation, saying:
I would like to be very clear, that despite over a decade of work as the director of international programming at Fantastic Fest, I had no advance knowledge of this decision nor knowledge that Devin was contributing to the program guide. I am still processing my feelings both about this decision and the fact that I—among others—was not consulted in the making of it.
Faraci eventually stepped down from the position after public pressure (and yes, if you’re saying, ‘but didn’t he do that last year?’, uhuh, and more on that in a moment) and his work on the Fantastic Fest program was removed with a new writer stepping in. Meanwhile, the Oscar hopeful film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri decided to remove itself from screening at the festival (the film deals with Frances McDormand’s character taking on a town regarding the unsolved rape and murder of her daughter, so naturally, the promoters decision to distance itself from the festival is understandable). League threw out another response on Facebook, this one clearly written by a crisis management team, stating that Faraci had stood down (again) and feeling slightly critical of the response from the public and media regarding Faraci’s public reappearance.
Apparently Faraci’s involvement in the Alamo Drafthouse family had been one of the worst kept secrets in media over the last year. However, for those not paying attention, and definitely for those not based near Austin, Texas, it wasn’t so obvious. With League seemingly spinning on the spot, unsure what to do with this Faraci eff-up, one has to ask… will Faraci actually be gone for good from the Drafthouse banner this time? After all, Faraci has been a great friend and colleague for League and co., having written some great criticism throughout the years (more on that in a moment), while at the same time being an abrasive, abusive and all round caustic presence online. Faraci had already stood down once, and no doubt League had figured that the old adage of ‘time healing all wounds’ would have been applicable to this situation, with about a year having passed, surely the wound would have healed by now, paving the way for a Faraci-revival?
(Meanwhile, across the other side of the country, sexual assault claims and talks of rape culture at one of LA’s greatest cinema Cinefamily had sprung up. Temporarily closed, the Cinefamily cinema has been faced with a lawsuit. While I won’t go in to it with as much detail as the Alamo Drafthouse discussion above, I will point you in the direction of a great LA Weekly article about it right here.)
So, time can heal all wounds if the atmosphere allows it. The question is though, how long do they actually mean? After all, a few major events have occurred domestically and internationally since Faraci stood down in 2016. Renowned misogynist and all round threat to women everywhere, Donald Trump, became the most powerful man in the world. Millions turned out to Women’s marches around America, protesting for the rights of women all around the world. Oscar winner Casey Affleck spent an awards season being regularly reminded of the sexual assault allegations brought against him after his time directing I’m Still Here. This is not exactly the finest environment to bring back a generally disliked figure in the film criticism industry. Especially in relation to a festival that has regarded as an open, caring and accepting festival.
Yes, Fantastic Fest has shown some intense, grotesque films, but it’s always felt safe. The same goes with the Alamo Drafthouse cinemas, and of course, Cinefamily. Alamo cinemas have long been a mecca for film lovers throughout the world – their staunch rules about what you can and cannot do in their cinemas have spawned some great PSA ads. No mobile phones, no talking, great food, great cinema, and most importantly, a warm, friendly environment. On the surface, this is a positive, desirable business model, one that helps create an image that any company would want to exude. We travelled to Austin, Texas in 2011, and for every night that we were in Austin we attended a film presentation of some kind in the cinemas there. It was truly heavenly.
Yet, the action of Tim League in bringing Devin Faraci back into the fold shows he fully misunderstands his varied audiences. For someone who has their fingers in many pop culture pies (Drafthouse, Drafthouse Films, Mondo, Fantastic Fest, and more), you’d assume that they’d also be hyper aware of the atmosphere regarding pop culture and sexual assaults. Meaning – they’d know that audiences will simply not stand for the promotion and ascension of someone accused of sexual assault.
We live in a time where audiences are more hyper aware of the actions of the creators of their entertainment. Stories of old Hollywood have only become louder in the wider public consciousness – from Roman Polanski’s rape of a 13 year old girl, or the allegations against Woody Allen, or Marlon Brando raping Maria Schneider in Last Tango in Paris, to Casey Affleck and I’m Still Here, to Victor Salva’s continued employment, and self-designated feminist Joss Whedon’s extra marital affairs, they do not disappear. Society does not forget.
Added to this is the necessary demand from audiences to see accurate representation of characters on the screen. Ghost in the Shell may have been a visual feast, but the casting of widely known not-Asian-at-all actress Scarlett Johansson in the traditionally Japanese role caused it to be a dud at the box office. As with many stories, the casting of Johansson runs much deeper than just being your age old white washing. This great article from The Verge covers the history of Ghost in the Shell well. And of course, the recent casting, then resignation of Ed Skrein in Hellboy in the role of a character who is of Japanese-American origin shows how the narrative should play out in this situation.
I want to be clear – I’m not equating sexual assault with white washing; they both have their layered issues that won’t be explored in this post, and both have caused expected, necessary outrage from the public. What I am saying is that these problems are avoidable. If Tim League had simply let Faraci go in 2016, we wouldn’t be in this mess. If a Japanese actor was cast in Ghost in the Shell or Hellboy to begin with, then we wouldn’t be in this mess. Skrein should be applauded for stepping down (he was unaware of the characters origins before signing on), but he also shouldn’t have been put in that situation to begin with.
And nor should the fans of these various ventures. The events of Roman Polanski’s assault occurred almost 40 years ago, have we not learned from that event? Obviously not, as not only are sexual assaults still occurring, and white washing is a regular occurrence, but literal Nazi’s are protesting in the streets for equal rights. As fans of entertainment, and the consumers of pop culture in its various forms, we expect the creators and leaders of this content and venues to lead by example.
Alamo Drafthouse was doing so well as well earlier in 2017 when it held women only screenings of Wonder Woman. Which is why it makes the wilful ignorance of Tim League all the more difficult to stomach. He was one of us, and he appeared to be once a champion for people of all walks of life. To see a place that many consider a church be turned into a place associated with disgusting figures is distressing and upsetting. I can only imagine what the employees may feel like, let alone the supporters who have dedicated their fandom to these various ventures.
So, that leads to my personal, initial problem – this list of the 100 best Mondo prints is an ode to the work of the many great artists who have worked at Mondo. I’ve met a bunch of great people through the hobby, and even travelled interstate to support some of the artists that Mondo has housed. Even though Tim League is the owner of Mondo, he’s definitely not the leading mind behind the day to day working of Mondo. That falls on the likes of Mitch Putnam, Rob Jones, Justin Brookhart, Mo Shafeek, Jay Shaw and many many more. They’re as equal fans of pop culture as the many folks in the poster collecting community are. And through no fault of their own, they’re now associated with someone who has helped out an alleged perpetrator of sexual assault.
Once again – Tim League. CEO of the Alamo Drafthouse. Alamo also houses Birth.Movies.Death. and Mondo and Fantastic Fest. He’d been housing Devin Faraci as a secret employee for the past year. So, if you are against supporting perpetrators of sexual assault, then you’d understandably be upset about not knowing that anything you’ve bought under those banners in the past year has gone towards paying the salary of Devin Faraci.
While I will eventually post my list – because the artists throughout their time working at Mondo were not complicit in the employment of Faraci – it won’t stop the uncomfortable feeling associated with it. Many may say, it’s no big deal, you’re not directly supporting League by posting the list, but others will disagree and ask ‘how can you support a rape sympathiser?’
Which then presents the final major issue that the socially conscious pop culture consumers face – how do you deal with the knowledge that the company/person that you like/support/enjoy/care for has done something bad?
When Chick-fil-A came out against marriage equality in America, there was a backlash and boycott of the service. Months went past, and sure enough, people who once said they’d never eat it again were posting about how they just couldn’t resist that tasty chicken. Even though Roman Polanski was ostracized from America, he still garners supporters within the film community and even won an Oscar. Scarlett Johansson’s continual cribbing of the Asian aesthetic and white washing roles has done little to sway supporters of the Marvel films she’s been involved with.
Criterion – the purveyors of great film cultivation – recently announced a mammoth film box set that covers the history of the Olympics. It’s a staggering beast of a release that encompasses everything from the 2016 Olympics, through to the highly controversial Munich Olympics. That event was documented by Leni Riefenstahl and showed Hitler talking to the masses, wearing a swastika. The inclusion of this film in a release of this magnitude is essential in the way that Olympics history is covered, but for many this is an uncomfortable inclusion. By buying such a release, are they in turn supporting the exposure of Nazi material? Technically, not really as this is not a Nazi propaganda box set, but instead an Olympics propaganda box set.
So, there are other chicken food stores, you don’t always have to eat there. Polanski films are few and far between and arguably his best films occurred pre-assault. And Johansson is such a small part of the Marvel films that it’s NBD. Is that right?
Yes, and no. As the various bubbles of society become larger and more varied, it makes choosing what group you wish to support easier. Woody Allen films still win awards, yet it’s now easier and more understandable to skip each yearly release. But, each banner/bubble inherently supports other ventures. So while you may want to avoid supporting Mars for still using palm oil in their chocolates, you’re then also required to cut out Whiskas from your cats diet as they’re one and the same under the Mars banner. Your $4 box of cat biscuits may not appear to directly support the palm oil industry, but you’ll always wonder exactly what percentage of that cat chow goes to that harmful industry.
Unfortunately, in many indirect ways, we’re all complicit with supporting problematic people – whether they be heroes or not. It’s what battles we fight on the path to conquering and help eradicate these issues that matters. By voicing support for those who challenge and question the employment of alleged sex offenders, or racists, or alt-right sympathising folks, we ideally help break illuminate what artists to support and what to not support.
But what happens when someone like Joss Whedon becomes a problematic hero? He’s created some of the most iconic pop culture characters of the past decade and a bit, and also twice helped bring the united Avengers team to the big screen, so what about him and his extramarital affairs? Is it ok to give him a pass and yet throw Devin Faraci and all involved with his reappearance under the bus?
That’s a decision we all have to make for ourselves. I do think that Devin Faraci has written some great articles; but he’s also written some truly heinous ones as well. Personally, I find his review of Edgar Wright’s great The World’s End brilliant, covering the themes that the film explores wonderfully. Ironically, the review discusses the films depiction of the self involved, permanently single, white, middle aged dudebro that is Simon Pegg’s character. The film ends with Pegg’s character, Gary, sitting in the middle of the apocalypse – one that he helped bring on – alone with android versions of his friends by his side as he starts another fight. He has not learned. He has not progressed as a human being. He is, after all, a self absorbed man. I’d like to think that Devin Faraci saw himself in that film – and if he did, that he also saw it as an opportunity to improve himself as a person and say to himself that he did not want to turn out like Gary; alone at the end of the world, abandoned by everyone he knows.
It’s also ironic that Faraci’s review talks about Gary’s lionisation of a night in his past when things were all great. The coloration between ‘old Hollywood’ and Faraci’s macho chest beating is undeniable – both of which have no place in modern society. The ‘boys club’ mentality that has driven both film criticism and the films themselves is something that should not exist anymore, but it does. It becomes even more problematic when these problematic figures start bandying themselves around as being ‘feminist’ figures – when their actions clearly show that they are far from that. (Hint: men, you don’t get to decide if you are a feminist, you have to let your actions show that you are a feminist and allow legitimate feminists [read: women] to tell you if you are a feminist or not.)
But less than a year later, Faraci showed that he didn’t learn from that review. In 2014, in response to renewed heat surrounding Woody Allen, Faraci wrote a scathing rebuttal against Dylan Farrow, voicing a level of defense for Woody Allen that is rarely seen. Farrow had written an article about the abuse that she had allegedly received from the Oscar winning writer/director/actor. Faraci’s response showed that he was once again the angry man child the internet expected to see. Stamping his feet and raging in the corner, managing to overshadow the legitimately great work that his colleagues on Birth.Movies.Death. were busy creating (seriously, Meredith Borders work will make you envious, as will the many varied voices that that site has fostered throughout the years). Combine the allegations of sexual assault with Faraci’s defense of alleged perpetrators of sexual assault, and then Tim League’s request to silence the voices of women who were speaking out against Faraci’s actions – it doesn’t paint a very pretty picture at all for the Alamo Drafthouse banner. It’s sad that the work of the Birth.Movies.Death. staff was overshadowed by Faraci for so long – and now that they are free of that association, they’ve continued to do great ground-breaking, enviable work within the realm of film criticism.
Where Faraci differs from someone like Roman Polanski is that film criticism and reviewing is inherently about ones self. It’s easier to distance the director, writer, creator, or chicken manufacturer, from the product because you can clearly see that the final product is not a representation of who that person or company is. With film criticism, it’s the way words are used to convey one persons opinions that distinguishes it as its own entity. It literally is that persons point of view.
As the world becomes more socially conscious, we have to ask ourselves, what’s the tipping point for dealing with problematic figures? Roald Dahl famously had some terrible things to say about Jewish people, but in 2016 Steven Spielberg turned one of his books into a film. Do we then boycott Spielberg for in turn promoting Dahl’s voice? Or, let’s go one step further, am I to be blacklisted because I mentioned that I liked an article written by Devin Faraci? Dare I say it, at what point do we reach absurdity in the way we ostracise those who share the voices of those that are deemed wrong?
When Birth of a Nation came out, there were many who criticised those who reviewed the film, asking how they could cover a film that promoted the work of a rapist – especially when the film depicts a sexual assault, and the real world sexual assault resulted in a death. Will the same be asked of those who review the next Woody Allen film? Or the next Victor Salva film? Or Francis Ford Coppola for producing Salva’s Jeepers Creepers films? Is just talking about films or pop culture associated with problematic figures a problem in itself? The answer is pretty simple in regards to that – as long as the issues associated with the film are addressed in the review or article, then it appears to be ok.
In this world of Donald Trump politics, we as consumers and citizens need to be hyper vigilant for what we support and consume. Admittedly, as a straight white male, I’ve got things a heck of a lot better and easier than many others in the world. I can easily stand here and say, yeah, in a few weeks time once this has all blown over I’ll post a my list. But, I’m also aware that due to the association with Tim League, I can fully understand people swearing off the company for life.
With companies needing to employ crisis managers on a regular basis when these issues occur, is this just going to be an expected, regular occurrence in our future? Scratch just beneath the surface of any group or public figure and you’ll most likely find that most of our heroes are assholes. The old adage that once a film or an article is made public, the author no longer owns it, is being regularly tested in today’s society.
The final question remains, should the artists of Mondo distance themselves from, or be punished for the actions of, their CEO? Prolific artist Mike Mitchell has been the sole voice from the artists group to say what he feels in this situation. For many smaller artists, (ones that don’t have extensive timed edition Star Wars prints), they may not feel that they have the same opportunity as Mike Mitchell. But, arguably, if Mondo actually reprimanded anybody for speaking out against League’s actions, then they would be going against the family-like atmosphere they’ve spent years to foster.
I think that’s a fair way to feel. I have too many thoughts, I’ll try to keep it focused… https://t.co/BWnuQUa7pX
— Mike Mitchell (@sirmitchell) September 14, 2017
First off, Tim made a colossal mistake in rehiring Devin, he made an even bigger mistake trying to hide it…
— Mike Mitchell (@sirmitchell) September 14, 2017
and suddenly they are in the crosshairs because the man who owns the company made a category 5 bad decision.
— Mike Mitchell (@sirmitchell) September 14, 2017
Tim owns Mondo, so if you feel morally obliged to boycott, I understand that. I think everyone who works at Mondo understands that.
— Mike Mitchell (@sirmitchell) September 14, 2017
However, I’d consider the people at Mondo, whose livelihood is on the line, over an awful decision they had nothing to do with.
— Mike Mitchell (@sirmitchell) September 14, 2017
I don’t know what needs to happen to right this situation. I, like everyone else, am flabbergasted by the decisions that were made.
— Mike Mitchell (@sirmitchell) September 14, 2017
As long as the people who helped build Mondo are still employed there, I’ll continue working with them. They are like family to me.
— Mike Mitchell (@sirmitchell) September 14, 2017
One final discussion point to consider as this long digression comes to a conclusion is the question about what is happening with places that many once considered ‘safe’ – namely, our cinemas. Two landmark, ground-breaking cinemas in America are now in question as to how safe they actually are, and many will have been turned into lifelong anti-Alamo/Cinefamily folks because of these actions. After all, if Tim League managed to harbour an alleged sexual offender in quiet for a year, then how many other sexual offenders are possibly working behind the scenes? It’s hard to regain trust when it’s been abused and tarnished in such a manner. People will be wanting blood, and Faraci’s alone will not be enough.
It goes without saying – sexual assault has no place in the film industry, or any industry. People have the right to feel safe in their workplace, and when that safety is taken away, then the foundation of trust is permanently scarred. I hope that my comments about Faraci having written some ‘great articles’ is not misconstrued to be outward support of the man and his actions – he is a terrible figure, and as each day passes, more reports of the systemic cruelty and abuse that runs within him arise. But, if they are construed as being in support of the man, then I am sorry and I hope that through my own actions and amplification of voices that I care about, I can show that I do not support who he is as a person.
So, when I eventually put up my Mondo print list, know that I do it in support of the artists, but with the understanding of what the umbrella company of Alamo Drafthouse and its CEO Tim League has done. While I don’t have the capacity to go in to discussing the underlining toxic masculinity that has been behind a lot of this, I will direct you to the following articles that cover it in a much better way than I ever could, as well as a bunch of other links about various issues raised in this piece.
The Mary Sue and toxic masculinity.
Angry Asian Man and why does Hollywood keep whitewashing Asian characters?
Texas Monthly‘s expose on the future of Fantastic Fest.
And as a reminder, always question your heroes.
(As one final dig of irony, Faraci once lamented that ‘fandom is broken’ – of course, part of said ‘fandom’ helped with his demise.)
Well, the Revelation Film Festival‘s 20th edition line-up has been announced. It’s a real stunner, that’s for sure – what with *deep breath*…
15 World Premieres
41 Australian Premieres
86 Australian Films
200 Film Screenings
Over 20 Special Events
Yeah, no big deal right? Well, before heading over the to very useful PDF version on the Revelation website, let’s take a quick gander at what I think are some of the hits of the festival.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service with Q&A with star George Lazenby
When Revelation celebrate their 20th Anniversary, they do it in style. So, to go alongside opening night film Becoming Bond, they’ve gone and organised a heck of a Q&A screening with star George Lazenby and Perth’s own Travis Johnson. Personally, I’m more excited to be able to see the star of the great The Man From Hong Kong in person – but regardless whether it’s Australian or British spies that you prefer, there’s no denying this will be a killer unmissable event.
If there’s one aspect of the Revelation Film Festival that I’ve always appreciated, it’s the extremely rare, untouched, unseen films from all corners of the world. In the past, Iranian cinema has been given a fair amount of exposure, and in some circumstances (Tehran Taxi) has turned out to be the best film I saw that year. So, it’s with great excitement to see these two films be part of this years line-up, especially given the Iranian New Wave is a slice of cinema that I personally (and I would hazard a guess, many Australian film goers) are not familiar with.
I’ve heard nothing but great news about this sci-fi, horror, futuristic young adult thriller. Now, I’m most likely wrong with categorising this film under those labels, but with all the hype around The Girl With All the Gifts, I’ve avoided pretty much everything that details what this film is about. So, with that in mind, jump on this screening quick as there’s only one session screening at this years Revelation Film Festival.
Patti Cake$ is – hands down – the film I’m most excited for at this years festival. The trailer is infectious. A smash hit at the Sundance Film Festival, Patti Cake$ follows the titular character as she works through her life to reach her goal of becoming a rapper. Thankfully there are two sessions to this, because odds are I’ll be needing a second watch straight away.
Top Knot Detective was insanely enjoyable when it hit SBS last year. An over the top, but deeply respectful, look at the samurai films that used to pepper late night TV in the nineties, Top Knot Detective is one of the many Australian films showing at the festival. Fun on the small screen, this is definitely going to be a cracker night on the big screen. A must see.
Usually one shot films can feel gimmicky (sorry fans of Victoria), but Australia’s take on this style of cinema looks to defy that statement. Directors Tristan Barr and Michael Gosden have crafted a sub-90 minute drama about crime in Australia – one which will have its Worldwide debut at Revelation Film Festival. Get onto this film quick smart so you can talk about it with all your cinema loving friends before they can.
That image right there no doubt conjures up a million different thoughts, all scored with that iconic Bernard Hermann score. 78/52 proposes to assess these iconic fifty two seconds of cinematic history. No doubt this will be essential viewing for fans of cinema.
Baxter and Me – another Aussie film – looks to fill the void that last years Heart of a Dog left in our hearts. As a documentary that looks at the relationships we have with the dogs in our lives, Baxter and Me will no doubt cause more than a few tears. Look, I’ll admit my dog loving bias here has caused me to put this film on my ‘must see’ list, but dammit… we all have our soft spots.
Director Kriv Stenders has turned his attention towards documentary filmmaking for this feature on Brisbane’s greatest band (go ahead, I’ll meet you in the parking lot), The Go-Betweens. Featuring interviews with surviving band members, The Go-Betweens: Right Here will no doubt be an essential look at one of Australia’s greatest bands.
Jonathan Messer directs this WA based documentary about four young Australians who are transitioning from being female to being male. It’s Not Just Me looks at human rights and talks about a topic which is increasingly being part of the public discussion.
Another Western Australian film, and a fucking bonkers one at that. Meal Tickets follows the ten year journey that director Mat de Koning went through essaying the lives of the band members of the Screwtop Detonators. It’s truly nuts what goes on on these tours – and as one of the few films that I’ve seen from this years festival – making this a must see film.
Finally, there is Spookers. No matter what city you go to, there will be a horror community; and it’s within this documentary that we look at a horror community in New Zealand. Bound to be full of gore and insane costumes, Spookers looks like exactly the sort of film that you go to Revelation Film Festival for.
So, I tried to keep my list to ten, but honestly it was impossible to do so. Honestly – I’d put the entire schedule for this years line-up as a suggested film to catch. With films occurring over two cinema sites (Leederville and Luna SX), there will be something for everyone to catch while the festival rages on from July 6th through 19th. If you happen to see a weary looking, bearded man wandering from cinema to cinema during the festival, make sure to say hello.
Keep an eye out as well as there’ll be a run down of the past 20 years of Revelation in the next week or two.
Our end of year episodes are long done and dusted, but if you haven’t listened to them, don’t fear! We’ve put our favourite performances and films in a handy list below.
Winner: Ivan Sen – Goldstone
Runners Up: Taika Waititi – Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Jennifer Peedom – Sherpa, Anna Biller – The Love Witch, Mira Nair – Queen of Katwe
Winner: Saorise Ronan – Brooklyn
Runners Up: Bethany Whitmore – Girl Asleep, Isabelle Huppert – Elle, Samantha Robinson – The Love Witch, Anya Taylor-Joy – The Witch, Sasha Lane – American Honey, Agnyss Deyn – Sunset Song
Winner: Julian Dennison – Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Runners Up: Damien Hill – Pawno, Aaron Pedersen – Goldstone, Chad McKinney – Beast, Dave Johns – I, Daniel Blake
Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Kate McKinnon – Ghostbusters
Runners Up: Hayley Squires – I, Daniel Blake, Lupita Ny’ongo – Queen of Katwe, Kirin Kiri – An / Sweet Bean, Rima Te Wiata – Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Best Supporting Actor
Winners: Mark Coles Smith & Malcolm Kennard – Pawno
Runners Up: Christian Bale – The Big Short, Sam Neill – Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Ralph Fiennes – A Bigger Splash, David Oyelowo – Queen of Katwe, Tom Bennett – Love & Friendship
Winner: Damien Hill – Pawno
Runners Up: Taiki Waititi – Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Robert Eggers – The Witch, Nick Hornby – Brooklyn, Ivan Sen – Goldstone
5. The Revenant and Keanu
3. Blair Witch
1. Sausage Party
Best Films of 2016
Honourable Mentions: An / Sweet Bean, A Bigger Splash, Dheepan, Down Under, Elle, The Hateful Eight, I, Daniel Blake, The Land of the Enlightened, The Mermaid, Paths of the Soul, Tanna
20. Everybody Wants Some!!
18. All Things Ablaze
16. The Handmaiden
15. Other People
14. The Witch
13. The Wailing
12. Sunset Song
11. American Honey
10. The Love Witch
7. Queen of Katwe
5. The Big Short
1. Hunt for the Wilderpeople