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Movie Poster of the Week: “Les herbes folles”

When the line-up for the 2009 New York Film Festival was unveiled this week, one of the surprises was the announcement that Alain Resnais’ Les herbes folles, or Wild Grass, would open the festival (the second year in a row that a French film has been the opening night film, after last year's The Class.) Daniel Kasman has already written most appreciatively and eloquently about the film in these pages, but the overriding impression from reviewers in Cannes was one of baffled wonderment (and opening night NYFF audiences tend not to like to be too baffled before dinner). Scott Foundas, one of five members of the selection committee wrote in the L.A. Weekly back in May that Wild Grass is Resnais’ “most freely associative dada mindfuck since the 1968 time-travel opus Je t'aime, je t'aime.”

I've been wanting to feature the film’s superb (and wonderfully baffling) poster ever since Wild Grass premiered at Cannes, but until recently the only art available was the illustration not the full poster (the film doesn’t open in France theatrically until November 4). The illustration is by Blutch, the nom-de-plume of Christian Hincker a renowned French comic book artist. Blutch made his debut in the early ’90s in the magazine Fluide Glacial, but might be best known here as one of the six artists featured in the 2007 animated noir et blanc anthology film Fear(s) of the Dark. (One of the other five being Richard Maguire, bassist and founder of seminal New York post-punk band Liquid Liquid, who played Lincoln Center themselves just last weekend).

Blutch has said “J’ai tenté de traduire dans mon travail ce que je devinais d’Alain Resnais ; je veux dire le goût du mystère.” (“I have tried to translate in my work what I have guessed of Alain Resnais; I mean the taste of the mystery.”) Let's hope that Sony Pictures Classics, the film’s just-announced U.S. distributor, will use this poster for the US release. There has been a tendency with recent Resnais films—both in France and here—to emphasize nothing but their wacky ensemble nature in posters (see below). Let's hope Sony keep the taste of the mystery for once.

This was totally my favorite poster (and film) of Cannes ’09!
Great poster. I just recently watched Je t’aime, je t’aime again. Even more challenging was the fact that I watched it without subtitles which added to the mystery since I don’t speak French.
Gorgeous poster! I, for one, would pay far more attention to a clever riff on modern art than something that could be mistaken for an ad for dancing with the stars. Mr.Resnais — stick with Blutch. (Am certain it sounds better with a French accent).

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