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TO OCT. 31

I say it’s good to judge a movie by its poster. Or even the movie industry by the posters it commissions to promote its fare. And, of late, because graphic artwork is disappearing in favor of the artificial “reality” of photography, both get a poor rating. Following a trend set by other advertisers—who’ve dropped such previous mainstays as original jingles for hijacked snippets of Led Zep or Nick Drake to lure undiscriminating shoppers—movie posters are increasingly becoming nothing more than assemblages of famous people’s photos. True, the pictures are heavily, uh, assisted—busts enhanced, jowls eliminated, etc.—but the results still fail to match the enchanting effects of an artist’s brush. John Alvin has been painting movie posters for 30 years, ever since a friend got him a job creating the promotional art for Blazing Saddles. He went on to illustrate many other Mel Brooks posters, as well as some work by Brooks protégé Gene Wilder and scores of other filmmakers. But the man is not limited to comedy: His poster for My Favorite Year nicely apes the sophisticated style of Saturday Evening Post artist J.C. Leyendecker. And his work for Empire of the Sun is both bold and elegantly simple. So maybe Alvin’s portrait of Harrison Ford on the Blade Runner poster is less than photographically accurate. A film poster should entice, and Alvin is a master. An exhibition of Alvin’s movie-themed work (Blade Runner’s Harrison Ford and Sean Young are pictured) is on view from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, to Sunday, Oct. 31, at ArtInsights Animation Gallery, 11921 Freedom Drive, Reston. Free. (703) 478-0778. (Dave Nuttycombe)