While starting to gather up the best movie posters of the year and looking for anything I might have missed I came across these two canny posters for a documentary I had never heard of (even though it played for a week at the IFC Center in New York in August). Directed by Bruce McDonald (Hard Core Logo, The Tracey Fragments), Music from the Big House follows singer Rita Chiarelli on a pilgrimage to the birthplace of the blues, which, according to this film, is the Louisiana State Maximum Security Penitentiary, better known as Angola Prison (a point of no return already memorably documented in Liz Garbus's devastating doc The Farm).
As little known as this film is (the film’s website has no information on upcoming screenings or DVD release) it is blessed with two superbly conceptual posters: one in which the strings of a guitar are transformed into the bars of a jail cell; and a second, which I like even more, in which a parade of inmates carrying hoes in front of a fence subtly evokes the notes and staves of sheet music. Well worth a closer look below. (My only caveat about that one is that I don’t like the two-font title treatment, but you can’t have everything).
Both posters were designed by bpg or Big Picture Group, an L.A. advertising firm that also designed one of my favorite posters of the last decade: Olivier Assayas’ Clean. I also really liked their similarly, um, clean designs for Before Tomorrow and Transsiberian, though their designers do seem to have an unfortunate weakness for Photoshopped skies (the curse and/or savior of the modern movie poster) as you can see in their posters for Countdown to Zero, Passchendaele and Paranoid Park, below.