The people close to me know that I have a soft spot for movies. And fonts. And a bunch of other things, but let’s narrow the scope down to the first two. I saw some pretty cool film titles recently and want to show some examples where the right typeface could help communicate a message or emphasize a feeling. I’m not mistaken that I’m known for my neverending love of Futura, but there are some cases when it just doesn’t fit the story. Even Woody Allen puts Windsor Light Condensed on the shelf sometimes.
The House That Jack Built
Let me tell you that the house that Jack built is not made from bricks because Lars von Trier is sick AF, but I guess that was expected. This film was 10/10 until for the first 2 hours, but I guess the last 35 minutes were purely Lars’s mental masturbation. But hey, he can do whatever he likes! This film was memorable for me on so many levels. First, I went to the movies the day after our office Christmas Party, and I had a mild but not unbearable hangover. I went on a date with a guy who had a 24h blood pressure monitor on, so it pumped up every half hours. I thought it was funny, but I’m not sure about all the others in the cinema-hall.
Now back to the film. The story follows Jack, a serial killer over the course of 12 years. He’s not just a plain murderer, he’s highly intelligent and as mad as one can be. Blood and sickness level: 100. Also, if you’re looking for DIY wallet ideas (4th incident), this is the movie for you. I’m sure the font on the poster is DIY as well. No spoilers, but if you saw the movie, you can tell how cramming and distorting the characters into this house shape is a parallel to how he built his house.
Look at these sick movie posters:
Malcolm & Marie
I was waiting for this movie to drop for such a long time that I could barely contain myself. It’s a black & white drama centered around the love life of two actors, where the entire scene takes place in the same house in the middle of nowhere. Don’t believe the people who undervalued this film on IMDB, I can give you a payback guarantee that it’s well-worth those 1.5 hours of your time. Zendaya has my heart since Euphoria, I don’t think I’d ever skip any of her movies in the future. I might be sided, but she’s one of the most talented actresses active today.
The font used on the poster grabbed my attention right away because it’s so special. What are the odds that it’s a variation of Futura? To be precise, it’s Futura ND Black that was designed by Paul Renner in the twenties. It’s so classy to use this font in the title, but I wouldn’t recommend using it elsewhere. It strengthens the power of the message and complements the simple set-up perfectly.
This typeface is most probably custom-made for the show, and I can only read what I think into it, but this choice resonates with the story quite well. Just looking at the shape of D makes my mind explode. The point can stand for the godlike figure of Forest (played by Nick Offerman), symbolizing that either your life continues to follow a straight line or takes a U-turn, you’ll end up at the same place. The other character I like the most is the “sharp-shaped” V. I like how it breaks the rhythm of the curvy lines, but if the V would be closer to look like U, that could emphasize the devs = Deus parallel even more. Maybe it’s just me, but does E look like a maze?
I would’ve loved this show if it weren’t for some miscasts if it weren’t for Lily’s figure (played by Sonoya Mizuno). She was so empty in this role as the range of Kristen Steward’s facial expressions. The story is not something we’ve never seen before, but it’s still a decent sci-fi, and I’d give 10 points to how it builds up and maintains tension. Any of Alex Garland’s work is definitely something to keep an eye on.
The Flight Attendant
I have mixed feelings about this show because it was not “good” good, but it was good enough to keep me waiting for the next episode. I don’t know how such a small woman like Kaley Cuoco can contain that much vodka, and she might be the only person in the world who had a bad tattoo and covered it up with an even worse one, but she was great in this series. Some of the motives and characters (not Zosia Mamet) are meh, but I liked the Crime and Punishment thread.
What I liked, even more, was the opening credits. Not just the font, but the colors, the graphics, the music… This is probably one of the best intro themes I’ve ever seen. I didn’t manage to find out the exact font they use here, but these are the ones it’s close to: Cervino Bold Neue Italic, Cadmium Compressed Bold Oblique. I’m not a big fan of Italic, but this gives back the instability of the main character quite nicely. If you only look at one youtube video today, make sure this is the one!
Here comes a bad example. I believe that whatever Greta Gerwig touches turns into pure gold, and Little Women is not an exception either. I’m happy to pick up a fight with anyone who disagrees. But what the actual F with this font? I just can’t get my head around it. The vowels are smaller than consonants, the position of T is lower than the L, the letters in LITTLE are more or less aligned to the bottom, while the characters of WOMEN are aligned to the top. Not to speak about the fact that the M and N look awkward with only one tail taller. And it’s such a beautiful classic story, that the usage of this abstract modern font seems like a disgrace (the 2nd picture even more than the 1st).
Based on stories and symbols from the Bible and The Giving Tree, this film is an allegory of climate change told by Mother Earth. Look at that 2nd picture where the typography gives life to something else from itself, what a beautiful resonance with the film. A journalist asked Darren Aronofsky about using an exclamation point in the title, and the director said:
…reflects the spirit of the film. The film kind of has an exclamation point; at the end of it, there’s a big exclamation point. So I think the title was just a bit better that way.
Mother! is the kind of film that is worth watching multiple times to understand every bit of it, but it’s so disturbing, that at the same time it’s hard to imagine you’ll ever muster the courage to sit down and watch it again.
Sorry to Bother You
I can barely remember this film as I watched it two years ago, but I do remember that this is a hot bowl of mess – in the best way possible. It’s a fantasy inside a sci-fi inside a comedy, where a black guy (Cassius, played by Lakeith Stanfield) climbs up on the promotion ladder in a call center to the “power callers” floor by using his “white voice”. How this film ends made my jaws drop and cut my eyes open, I guess it was one of the most unexpected closures of all times. The graphic lettering that keeps appearing everywhere during the film was designed by local children’s book illustrator J. Otto Seibold.
Cassius’s girlfriend called Detroit (played by Tessa Thompson) is an aspiring artist and a true fashion icon in this film. Look at the badass typography earrings she’s rocking:
Amy Adams is one of my favorite actresses, Leap Year is my top guilty pleasure, I must have watched that film like a 100 times. I was struck by how elegant and delicate is everything about Arrival. The subtle imagery of aliens, the fragile structure of communication between the main characters and the extraterrestrial life forms, the fonts and undertoned colors they used, and the beautiful ending scene. Also, it has a little Zen Master vibe if you know what I mean.
The font used in the title is a customized version of Gotham Light, but the main wow factor is in the spacing. I’m not sure there are many other examples where such a wide gap between the characters would have a dramatic effect like this.
I read a book called “the house that Jack Built” about a thousand times to my little son (Jett Black) when he was an infant. Needless to say, I had to watch the movie based on this article.
Twenty minutes into it, I’m forever torqued! My mind is blown with only a remote possibility of recovery. I owe you one.
The OCD crime scene cleanup sequence reminded me of overworking a Tableau dashboard too many times. I’m sure you’ve been there before.
Thanks for writing the article. It was enjoyable.
Would you know what font was used in the titles of the 1997 movie “Mrs. Dalloway”?