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! **

Awardsapalooza 2013: Recap!

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Hello, Frocktalkers, and happy new year!  We are finally done shooting season one of ‘Sleepy Hollow’, and I’ve been crazed with moving house and catching up.  I have seen a few movies (not all of them, sadly) and I have some recapping to do.  Here we go…

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Lone Survivor – this is the kind of film that I don’t often seek out, because it is too tense and you know, going in, that the outcome is going to be grim.  In the end, I’m glad I saw it, but the first 20 minutes were rough.  The costumes were really interesting – lots off different BDUs and uniforms used throughout.  I’d be curious to talk with designer Amy Stofsky about this.  Our heroes’ uniforms seemed to transition from sand colors to green colors by the end, and that was fascinating. Performaces were solid, with a special shout out to Taylor Kitsch for an understated and believable performance.  I almost wish that he and Mark Wahlberg had switched roles, because the physical resemblance of Kitsch to actual real-life Navy SEAL Marcus Lutrell is pretty amazing.

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American Hustle – You’ve seen the ads, and from those alone, you know that this is a costumepalooza of the highest order.  Designer Michael Wilkinson does amazing work here, and has been given excellent material to work with, in terms of the story and the characters.  This kind of opportunity comes around once in a lifetime, and he has maximized it, for sure.  Lots of low necklines, fur, drippy fabrics, and excess. I also loved that it was 1970s reinterpreted, choosing only the best, most appropriate, appealing looks of the time.  No one looked inappropriately wacky or ugly (which, for you young kids, was actually part of the zeitgeist of the time), and I think it made the whole movie more palatable and easy to digest.  Yes, there were some crazy looks, but they were in context.  You didn’t see background players looking like the Partridge family – which would have been plausible – because that would have marred the beautiful landscape and palette Wilkinson built into the film.

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The Butler – costume designer Ruth Carter, on fire here capturing many decades in the life of one man, Cecil Gaines.  This is an epic tale, and it starts in the 1920s when Cecil is a sharecropper’s son, picking cotton. We follow him as he becomes a house servant, then a waiter, and eventually a butler at the White House. The sheer scope of these costumes – so many characters and BG from so many time periods – deserves recognition and praise.  All the costumes feel real and lived-in, and nothing feels false.  A big portion of the movie takes place in the 1960s during the civil rights movement, and it felt so natural, I kind of forgot that it was a period piece. And I NEVER forget! So, good job, Ms. Carter.  I am sure it was a ton of work, and the movie looks fabulous.

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Saving Mr. Banks – Designer Daniel Orlandi has done a wonderful job of bringing the story of P.L. Travers and her family to life.  The film takes place in 1960s Hollywood and London, and has flashbacks to early 1910-teens Australia.  The flashbacks are beautiful, but the 1960s work is impeccable.  Orlandi has done a lot of notable work in this period, including ‘Down With Love’, and here the costumes feel as clean and pristine as the Disney lot itself. Wonderful work by the entire team – all of the BG looked amazing, and the continuity was (to me) flawless.  The movie is such a tearjerker, which I wasn’t (but probably should have been) exactly expecting.  It’s a Disney movie after all, and they are masters of pulling on heartstrings. It was delightful to see our world (meaning, the world of filmmaking and collaboration) played out here on screen.  The film offers a small, subjective peek into what it takes to get a film to screen.

There are so many other films that I didn’t get a chance to see, and that is sad.  It seems that if we aren’t sent a screener copy of a film on DVD, it takes a lot for us (especially those of us working in small communities) to actually see the film.  Here are some movies I would have loved to have seen by now (click titles to link to articles):

Nebraska: Designer WENDY CHUCK

Labor Day: Designer DANNY GLICKER

Don Jon: Designer LEAH KATZNELSON

Frances Ha: Curiously NO DESIGNER credited.  Must be the Uberfuhrer. (oddly, no mention of the designer in that interview, either!)

Blue Jasmine: Designer SUZY BENZINGER

August: Osage County: Designer CINDY EVANS

Wolf of Wall Street: Designer SANDY POWELL

None of these films (with the exception of Wolf of Wall Street) were playing in Wilmington while I was there; at least not at times I could ever see them.  It’s a real shame.  Access to these films is what’s important, and for awards consideration particularly, the voting bodies need access.  Not everyone is in LA and able to hop to Beverly Hills for a screening.  So, I am truly sad to say that I missed the above, and I look forward to seeing them at some point now that I am back in town.

Another note – there should be additional screenings of these films AFTER the nominations have been announced, don’t you think?  That way, we can all know what we’re actually voting on.  Just a thought.

Stay tuned for more info and have a great week, everyone!

– KMB

 

 

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