24×36: A Movie About Movie Posters Review

Properly Framed

The most pertinent moment in 24×36 comes during a montage. Charting a visual path through decades of movie posters, from the elegance of the ‘30s through to the pop art of the ‘80s, there’s a distinct shift come the ‘90s. The art is lost. Suddenly, the screen widens. Movie posters spread across the screen, their identity lost. Floating heads copy positions like twins. Women stand with their butts forward, their heads over their shoulder. Individuality is now foreign. The fun is gone. The color drained.

24×36 loves those early posters, the ‘80s especially. This talking head documentary shares in the affinity for a decade that often defines geekdom. Pleasantly, to break from the deluge of interviews, those posters undergo motion graphics, breaking up the aspects before forming the final designs. It’s a pleasure to watch as artists and designers share their nostalgia and their work is given prominence.

What’s engaging in 24×36 are those moments of practical lust for painted movie ads. They remain a unique element in selling cinema. Collectors, dealers, and artists fawn for the classics, the glory of a Drew Struzan, or other gorgeous slices of memorabilia. They respect artists who, under the power of their corporate licensors, were refused the chance to sign their work. Learning about their styles gives 24×36 an informative edge.

Kudos to the plethora of artists celebrated in 24×36

Where the documentary begins to falter is in discussing the new. Fervor over the beautiful work by Mondo and others doesn’t quite carry that same fascination. No offense to the artists who crank out art that easily bests the official studio line, but Mondo appears caught in the explosiveness of pop fandom. Like Funko, only not hideous.

Seeing and discussing a poster for Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t as intriguing as viewing an original Frankenstein. Much of 24×36 dedicates time to this new collectors market and the second hand frenzy to snatch up limited editions. It’s great to see for the artists who finally have an outlet for their wares, not so much for the viewers outside of the die-hard community.

Why do studios ignore illustrated poster art? That’s missing – the studio side. Camera time isn’t given to executives or the marketers themselves in a hot seat. Rather, the artists speculate on the why and how. A focus group session near the end of 24×36 disproves many of those theories.

That errant choice aside, what’s in 24×36 is stunning, a flurry of color and inspiration. If 24×36 set out to explain where the illustrated movie poster went, it succeeds. If the goal was the why, then it fails. That’s a whiff, but not a fatal one. 24×36 engages in a generally unseen market, where people thirst to own a piece of Hollywood. Or rather, the images that represent Hollywood. Kudos to the plethora of artists celebrated in 24×36. Their immense talents earn proper screen time and adoration.

Thank the small time heroes who continue their fight to rejuvenate actual style. Maybe 24×36 can be the start of something.