It’s always a pleasure to introduce a new poster by Sam Smith, whom I’ve been writing about ever since he first exploded on the movie poster scene ten years ago with a now-iconic poster for another Japanese film featuring a cat.
His brand new design is for Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Asako I & II, a lovely, enigmatic film about doubles and identity which premiered at Cannes last year (Daniel Kasman wrote about it here) and played at the New York Film Festival. Best known for his five-hour drama of female friendship, Happy Hour (2015), Hamaguchi channels Vertigo in a minor key in his new film, which Grasshopper is opening in New York on May 17.
Sam’s poster is as elegant and restrained and endearingly odd as the film itself. The doubling of both Asako herself and the title treatment is made to look like off-registered two-color printing which gives the poster—in tandem with all that white space—a deliberate ghostly quality. (In the Notebook’s interview with Hamaguchi from Cannes, the first question is “Do you see this film as a ghost story?”)
Sam has also been busy creating gorgeous key art for both the Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber (where, full disclosure, I am the design director, though his beautiful cover art for Kino’s upcoming Blu-ray and DVD release of Last Year at Marienbad was workshopped with my estimable colleague R. Emmet Sweeney). And his eye-popping cover for Criterion’s release of Japón continues his close association with Carlos Reygadas for whom he has created posters for Post Tenebras Lux and Our Time.
You can hear Sam every month on his movie poster podcast with Brandon Schaefer, The Poster Boys, in the most recent episode of which he answers listeners’ questions about his own work.