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! **

Tag Archive for 'period'

A Million Ways to Die in the West & Maleficent: Interpreting History & Lore

Maleficent-Million-Ways-to-Die-in-the-West

I saw two movies today – OMG, stop the presses.  I finally got some “KB Time” and took advantage of it.  Bolstering the box office numbers for this weekend’s biggest contenders, I saw them both.  There are some interesting parallels, in terms of the costumes, and here’s how I see it:

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Sandy Powell Dishes on Designing YOUNG VICTORIA at the Getty!

Photo: Charlie Fonville

Deborah Nadoolman Landis (L) and Sandy Powell.  Photo: Charlie Fonville

“Dress is a trifling matter…but it gives also the one outward sign from which people in general can and often do judge upon the inward state of mind and feeling of a person.”  — Queen Victoria, 1858

By Lauren Fonville

The indomitable Queen Victoria, England’s longest-reigning monarch was on everybody’s mind on Sunday as visitors flooded the Getty Center’s new exhibit, A Royal Passion: Queen Victoria and Photography in Los Angeles.

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Sleepy Hollow: Ask the Costume Department, Round 2

Crane

Hey there, Sleepyheads, Frocktalkers and friends!  I guess the timing of this column just proves that I am unable to keep a deadline when I am working.  What was supposed to be an “every Monday” feature is now destined to become a “once in a while when I have a moment” feature, so thank you for your patience while I find some quiet time to answer your questions.  Remember, you can post them any time on Twitter, using hashtag #shcostumes.  Here is the latest installment:

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Drunk History: Interview with Designer Christina Mongini

Drunk History

By Lauren Fonville

We’ve been fans of Drunk History’s slurred, comedic take on American history and it’s slightly-off period costumes since its early days at a web series on FunnyorDie.com. Now the show created by host Derek Waters and director Jeremy Konner is finally getting a run as a full series airing Tuesdays at 10 pm on Comedy Central.

Who better than costume designer Christina Mongini to bring the show’s inebriated versions of events like Watergate and the Battle of the Alamo to life? The comedy vet has earned her chops as the costume designer for HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and is about to go into production on season five of The League on FX.

We sat down with Christina to discuss Drunk History’s quirky aesthetic; its panoply of guest stars including Jack Black, Dave Grohl, Lisa Bonet, Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, and Kristen Wiig; and the particular challenges of costuming comedy.

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Awardsapalooza 2013: Nomination Rumination!

I apologize for the brief, succinct posting of the nominees for the CDG awards. I was in the middle of a production meeting when the news broke (!) so – don’t tell anyone – but I was busy typing away here at Frocktalk when I probably should have been listening to something important being explained by our first AD. So if we come up empty-handed on some big day on this movie and we don’t have what we need? Sorry, Albert! My bad!

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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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Angels, the Costumiers

Angels costume house, London

Angels costume house, London.

As part of my trip to London, I visited Angels costume house. Frocktalkers, it was amazing to see this place. I remember way back in 1992, I was interning on the Francis Ford Coppola film Dracula. Our associate costume designer Richard Shissler had made a trip to London to pull costumes for some of our massive crowd scenes. My job was to unpack the boxes that arrived from London. I remember gasping with delight and awe at the assortment of beautiful Victorian garments – many of them antiques, originals – that arrived. Where did these garments come from? Angels costume house.

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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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