Welcome to FrockTalk, the web’s only costume-based movie review site. The goal of Frocktalk is to shed light on the magnificent artistry of costume design in motion pictures. Reviews on this site are written by working costume designers in the entertainment industry – people who know, better than anyone, what it takes to make it all happen. The focus of FrockTalk is not to comment on the big flashy costume dramas, but to call attention to the seemingly ordinary costume design work in film that silently and persuasively moves the audience toward understanding the characters. Costume design for motion pictures is an art form that deserves more recognition than it usually gets. Fancy, pretty costumes do not always equal effective, appropriate costumes. The art of the costume is in letting the audience know who the character is, before the actor even has a chance to open his mouth. Read on, and enjoy. ** CAUTION: ALL REVIEWS CONTAIN SPOILERS! **

Archive for the 'Reviews' Category

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Les Misérables

Review Date: 12-4-12

Release Date: 12-25-12 (USA)

Runtime: 157 minutes

Period: 1815 – 1832, France

Costume Designer: Paco Delgado

Most of us who work in the entertainment industry have seen at least one stage production of Les Misérables in our lives. To miss this musical theater opus would be like not seeing ET or Star Wars; it’s that big of a deal. Les Miz (as it is colloquially called) was first introduced to the stage in the form of a musical in the 1980s. It was a sensation. The music is haunting, the story is relatable, and it packs an emotional wallop. It is no surprise, then, that the current movie version of the musical does the same.

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Cloud Atlas

Review Date: 12-3-12

Release Date: 10-26-12, USA

Runtime: 172 minutes

Period: 1849, 1936, 1973, 2012, 2144, and 106 A. F. (2321)

Costume Designers: Kym Barrett, Pierre-Yves Gayraud

I don’t even know where to begin with this movie. It is breathtaking in its scope, and is such an impressive piece of work. The film explores six different time periods, six different (but linked) storylines, and it manages to utilize the same troupe of actors in all of the different scenarios. Shooting all storylines simultaneously, with two costume designers and a crew of over fifty in the costume department, it is an astounding accomplishment. You won’t believe your eyes.

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O Palhaço – The Clown

Review Date: 12-1-12

Release Date: undetermined

Runtime: 90 minutes

Period: Contemporary-ish

Costume Designer: Kika Lopes

Very seldom am I truly amazed by anything anymore. I’m getting older; I live in the big city; I’ve seen a lot of cool things in my life. Let’s face it; I’m getting cynical. But then one day, something comes along that just blows a hole in my reality, shooting me sky-high. Last night, that thing was the costume design of O Palhaço – The Clown – Brazil’s entry for the Foreign Film category at the Oscars.  Frocktalkers, you NEED to see this film!!!

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Silver Linings Playbook

Review Date: 11-20-12

Release Date: 11-21-12

Runtime: 122 minutes

Period: Contemporary

Costume Designer: Mark Bridges

There is an expression we occasionally use in our business, and that is “Fight the hot”. What that means is that as costume designers, we have to make an attractive person look less so, so that their beauty doesn’t distract from the film. Such is the case with Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook. Voted 2011’s Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine, you have to fight the battle of your life against the hot when you work with Bradley Cooper.

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The Impossible

Review Date: 11-14-12

Release Date: 12-21-12

Runtime: 114 minutes

Period: 2004, contemporary

Costume Designers: Anna Bingemann, Sparka Lee Hall, Maria Reyes

I am a pretty analytical filmgoer. I watch movies like I watch dailies. Very rarely does a film grab me and suck me in. Rarer still do I find myself with tears in my eyes, watching a movie. Well, about twelve minutes in to The Impossible, rivers of tears were rolling down my face, into my mouth, down my neck, and I ceased taking notes.

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Hyde Park on Hudson

Review Date: 11-8-12

Release Date: 12-7-12

Runtime: 94 minutes

Period: 1939

Costume Designer: Dinah Collin

Hyde Park on Hudson chronicles a time in American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt‘s life when he becomes intimately involved with his distant cousin Daisy. War looms in Europe, and the British Crown seeks his help. With King George VI and Queen Elizabeth coming for a visit, what to do about the mistress? FDR and Daisy’s relationship seems unlikely at best, however the costumes help to tell the story about class, privilege, status, and wealth.

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Lincoln

Review Date: 10-26-12

Release Date: 11-9-12 (limited); wide on 11-16-12

Runtime: 150 min (approx, unofficial)

Period: 1865

Costume Designer: Joanna Johnston

This film details the last four months of American President Abraham Lincoln’s life. Essentially, it covers Lincoln’s struggle to achieve passage of the thirteenth amendment to the US constitution, outlawing slavery. Along the way, it paints a loving picture of Lincoln as a doting, hands-on father, an involved, engaged husband, and a charismatic, determined leader.

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Tales from London: the Best Costume Exhibit of ALL TIME!

I’m finally back at home and settled in after a fabulous and unforgettable visit to Europe. I am so grateful to have been able to make this trip. I feel so lucky to have been able to be a part of the Hollywood Costume celebration at the Victoria and Albert museum; I don’t even know where to begin. London, V & A, Deborah Landis, David C. Copley – a million thank yous would never be enough. This exhibit at the V & A marks a new chapter in costume design. We are officially on the map, if you ever missed us before.

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Argo

Review Date: 10-14-12

Release Date: 10-12-12

Runtime: 120 minutes

Period: 1979 – 1980

Costume Designer: Jacqueline West

In 1979, Americans working at the US Embassy in Tehran were taken hostage.  Six of them escaped and sought refuge at the home of the Canadian Ambassador.  One man helped them out of Iran.  This is the premise of Argo.  Based on the true-life story of CIA agent Tony Mendez, the film is gripping, absorbing, and kind of a nail biter.  It’s one of the best films I’ve seen in some time, and the costumes and characterizations are top notch.

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The Master

Review Date: 9-16-12

Release Date: 9-21-12

Runtime: 137 minutes

Period: Post-WWII – 1950

Costume Designer: Mark Bridges

Paul Thomas Anderson is known for boundary-pushing films: Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood… and he doesn’t just push, but rather he shoves The Master into uncharted territory. This is a film so raw, it bleeds. The performances will make your heart skip a beat. The plot reveals itself in bursts, like a puzzle of sorts. In the press, cast and crew have denied that this film is about Scientology. However, after viewing the film, it appears to be a poem composed in elegiac vignettes related to L. Ron Hubbard, the religion he founded, and the people who were central to his purpose.

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