Category Archive: Film

Jun 10 2014

Interview: Maleficent Costume Designer Anna B. Sheppard

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When you see Maleficent you will leave the cinema thinking about Angelina Jolie’s amazing cheekbones, the sweetness of Elle Fanning as Aurora, and the incredible costumes designed by  Anna B. Sheppard, who is known for her work on ‘Schindler’s List’ and ‘The Pianist,’ both of which earned her Oscar nominations.

I got the chance to chat with Anna about the costumes, working with Angelina, and the difficulties of designing for an action movie like Maleficent.

Maleficent is one of the most iconic villains in cinematic history – what was it like to take on this project?

Daunting!!! We started the prep for this film 10 weeks before the first day of shoot and I met Angelina like 8 weeks before and we started from scratch. Everyone expected one costume, because everyone remembers the animated character, and we created eight. It was blood, sweat and tears, and I had a lot of help from Team Maleficent – I had my assistant costume designer Jane Clive, and lots of young designers who experimented with our costumes – like with the millinery, the shoes, with our leather elements – they helped me a lot.

The original really stays in your memory, everyone as a child has seen Sleeping Beauty and everyone remembers Maleficent, so that was the challenge of this movie to bring this animated version to life and to keep the magic in the costumes.

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What was it like working with Angelina Jolie on the Maleficent costumes?

A bad person never looked so beautiful – she looks absolutely amazing. Angelina really did give herself to this character and think people don’t realise that she is more than just being beautiful, she is also incredibly intelligent. She was 150 percent involved in the creation of the designs.

Were there any challenges involved in Maleficent’s signature costume?

It is practically creating the identical silhouette from the animated movie but the technical details were more difficult because I wanted a more sculptured silhouette, but still very slim. It is like a dress with bat-wings attached with a long train, which needed to be weighted down to make the costume behave like it should. It was made from metres of pleated black fabric and it took weeks to make – day and night. But the results were worth it.

As well as Maleficent there are a host of fabulous costumes for Aurora and Diaval – how did you perfect their look?

With Elle and Aurora, they were very innocent costumes, Aurora is the girl who lives in the forest surrounded by funny fairies, and I thought about her lines with her long hair and it made me think of Ophelia. That was my inspiration to create something like light almost; it needed to be such a contrast to Maleficent’s costume.

For Diaval I wanted him to look like a rock star. Because Raven is black so his clothes should be black, in the first concept he was suppose to be covered in feathers, but of course that didn’t work, so we didn’t have much time to dress he so we went for a cross between a pirate and a rock star – with high boots, leather trousers, frock coat, and an open black shirt.

Is there a particular sequence that you feel the costumes really shine through?

I think the christening scene is quite impressive, I love that and a lot of work went into it, because we had to create the whole ‘court’ of King Stefan and the different types of costumes is great to see.

Were there any challenges making the costumes work for the action scenes?

The last costume, the all-in-one leather costume for the fight, we had to make 25 for that sequence as they were exposed to fires, so they also needed to be fireproof. Sometimes you have to sacrifice beauty of the costume for the practicality of an action movie.

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[Pics: Courtesy of Disney & Anna’s taken by me, Fashionista Barbie]

**Post in collaboration with Disney for the Maleficent hub – for more on the hub visit –**

Dec 24 2013

Festive Movie Marathon: A Rom-Com Kind Of Christmas

Christmas movies 2 Festive Movie Marathon: A Rom Com Kind Of Christmas %tagHappy Christmas Eve guys. It is traditional for me on this very day to eat lots of chocolates, generally the Quality Street variety, bake up some mince pies, and watch back-to-back Christmas movies – and you guessed it that is what I am doing right now.

Last Christmas I put up my favourite festive movies – the likes of White Christmas and Santa Clause, plus a whole raft of suggestions that probably only myself and the Hallmark Channel have ever heard of. This Christmas Eve I thought I would go for a romantic-comedy theme – mixing festive cheer with a fuzzy feel good factor. So here goes – my five rom-com suggestions:

The Holiday - Many reasons why this makes the cut each festive season, first who doesn’t want to be Cameron Diaz, secondly it is the only film I actually think Jude Law is hot in, and thirdly I love the contrast between a snowy England and Los Angeles. This is a great feel-good film that even my boyfriend doesn’t mind sitting through.

While You Were Sleeping – What I love about this film is that it is a little unconventional when it comes to a festive romance film – as instead of eyes meeting across a crowded holiday party, Lucy played by Sandra Bullock actually saves her commuter crush and gets mistaken for his fiancé while he is in a coma and then falls in love with his brother. Not only am I huge Sandra Bullock fan but I also have a soft spot for Bill Pullman.

Love Actually – This film is British comedy at its very best. I love the interwoven little storylines, the incredible cast, I adore Bill Nighy as an aging rocker, and most of all I love that Hugh Grant as Prime Minister falls in love with his tea girl. You can’t help but laugh, cry and feel good when watching this film.

Serendipity - This is a film that doesn’t just come out at Christmas for me, I love the idea of Serendipity meeting a stranger and having a connection but the not so perfect timing means that they don’t stay in touch, rather they see if chance brings them back together again. If the story doesn’t get you the chemistry between John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale will!!!

Miracle on 34th Street - No Christmas list is complete without my favourite festive film – come on Richard Attenborough is the greatest Father Christmas and I don’t mind admitting it ‘I Believe’!!! OK so the main story isn’t a romantic one, but who doesn’t want to see Dorey and Bryan get together – how did she say no the first time that rock was perfection.

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A couple of favourites I don’t have on DVD yet but I adore and search out each season on Christmas 24 and Sky Movies has to be ‘Christmas in Boston’, ‘His and Her Christmas’, ‘Boyfriend For Christmas’, ‘Holiday Engagement’ and one I found this festive season is ‘Hitched for the Holidays’ it has Joey Lawrence from ‘Blossom’ in it – I do wish I could get the Hallmark Channel here in the UK!!!

Which romantic Christmas movies is your favourite?

Nov 25 2013

Shopping: The Hunger Games Capitol Couture Collection At Net-a-Porter

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At the weekend I finally saw The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the highly anticipated second film in the trilogy, and it certainly lived up to the hype and stayed true to the book. As well as making a star out of Jennifer Lawrence, the film has also catapulted costume designer Trish Summerville into the limelight with her fabulous fashion choices for the likes of Katniss and Effie.

The second film didn’t disappoint me on the fashion front, I loved Katniss’ updated hunting gear with knitwear wraps over her leather jacket, her sporty Lucas Hugh gear and the gorgeous wedding dress that turned into a mockingjay, but most of all I adored the crazy, OTT fashion choices of Effie, and it was lovely to see my Barbie doll’s outfit on the big screen!!!

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Well it seems that Net-a-Porter also loved Trish Summerville’s choices as the luxury online retailer has teamed up with the movie’s production company, Lionsgate to create a collection based on the movie.

Called ‘Capital Couture’, the 19-piece collection features everything from jewellery to statement sweatshirts, dresses and even replicas of the Hunger Games sporty looks. Ranging in price from £60 to £800, there is something to meet everyone’s price point, and I think the t-shirts and sweatshirts are going to be the first to sell out.

I saw the collection last week and I loved the leather jacket, super soft and a classic piece, as well as the the bow and arrow ear cuff, and the ‘Girl on Fire’ sweatshirt.

Below are my favourite pieces, which would you love to add to your wardrobe?

Oct 10 2013

Barbie Loving: The Hunger Games Catching Fire Dolls – Including Katniss & Effie

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It isn’t long now until The Hunger Games: Catching Fire hits cinemas, I have even started rereading the trilogy to prepare, and Barbie has done a followed up to the amazing Katniss doll from the first film, with the leading lady being joined by Peeta, Effie and Finnick wearing costumes from Catching Fire.

Of course I’m excited to be adding another Katniss doll, the first one sits pride and place in my office next to Bella from Twilight, but as they didn’t go for one of Jennifer Lawrence‘s characters more flamboyant looks from the film – like her wedding dress - the one I most want to add to my collection is Effie Trinket.

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As you would expect Effie is one striking Barbie doll, wearing a metallic blue dress accented with black feather sleeves and gold detailing around the collar and waist – it is a complete replica of one of her extravagant Capitol fashions worn in the film. I love that the bold design also captures her signature hair style, striking make-up and finishes off the look with OTT shoes and glitzy tights. For $24.95 she is a real bargain.Barbie hunger games effie Barbie Loving: The Hunger Games Catching Fire Dolls   Including Katniss & Effie %tag Barbie hunger games effie  Barbie Loving: The Hunger Games Catching Fire Dolls   Including Katniss & Effie %tagBarbie hunger games katniss Barbie Loving: The Hunger Games Catching Fire Dolls   Including Katniss & Effie %tag

The Catching Fire Katniss doll is great, but just doesn’t have the wow factor of Effie as it is too similar to the first doll. Once again she is carrying her bow and wearing her hair in a side-braid, the only difference is the leather jacket has been replaced with her fitted black bodysuit with knee and elbow pads that she enters the arena of the Quarter Quell in.

As well as the two favourite female characters, Barbie has also moulded Peeta and Finnick into dolls, with both wearing their Tributes outfits for the 75th Annual Hunger Games. Peeta’s of course matches Katniss in black, while Finnick carries his signature trident.

What do you think of the new The Hunger Games dolls? Are you happy that they included Effie this time?

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Jun 17 2013

Film Review: Joss Whedon’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

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At the weekend I went to see the much-anticipated Joss Whedon take on William Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, which was shot over the course of only 12 days in the director’s Santa Monica home, and if you are a fan of Whedon’s past TV shows and films you will spot a few familiar faces in the incredible cast.

I saw a number of interviews with the guy who brought me Buffy, Angel, Firefly and of course last year’s Avenger’s Assemble, and nearly everyone seemed surprised that he would do something different, unexpected, and that it would be incredible. I wasn’t surprised by how good it was, but I wasn’t expecting the film which is filmed in black and white and uses the original text that it is written largely in prose, to be so modern, fresh and charming.

The comedy is one of my favourite Shakespeare plays, I love how it portrays romance, politics, family and most of all the love-hate relationship between Benedick and Beatrice, played by Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker, who really were the standout stars of this production, especially with their screwball comedy performances. Amy Acker, best known as Fred in Angel, really did shine in this film and for me had a touch of Katharine Hepburn about her.

As well as great performances from Denisof and Acker, another highlight had to be Nathan Fillion aka the evil creepy priest Caleb from Buffy and of course Kate Beckett’s sidekick in Castle, as Dogberry and Tom Lenk, also from Buffy, as his sidekick Verges – both were hilarious as the bumbling clownish night watchmen.

Unlike other adaptations of classics that have been given the glossy treatment, with over done staging, costumes, and music, Whedon kept his version contemporary and in keeping with Shakespeare’s story, and even though on paper it maybe shouldn’t work it so does and I am sure it will be used by many an English teacher to make Shakespeare look cool!!!

I love that Whedon kept the original words, that he didn’t make the cast put on fake English accents, and that he had them wearing modern dress, and I thought the constantly drinking throughout really helped understand why the characters make the choices they do.

I went to see this with a friend and we both agreed that the only thing missing was Sarah Michelle Gellar aka Buffy and Summer Glau from Firefly, but really that is just us both being uber geeky Whedon fans and dreamers!!!

I am going to have to say this has to be the must-see film of the summer and I can’t recommend it enough, I just hope that more cinemas put on screenings as so far it looks like it is going to have a limited run. Check out the film’s website to see if it is on at a cinema near you, trust me you will love it.

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Still undecided? Why not check out the trailer:

[Pics: Much Ado About Nothing]

Oct 21 2012

Exhibition: Hollywood Costume At The V&A

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I have been getting excited about seeing the V&A’s Hollywood Costume exhibition since it was announced earlier this year. I just couldn’t wait to see Audrey Hepburn’s dress and pearls from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, all the marvellous creations of costume designer Edith Head, as well as getting up close and personal with the replica Harry Winston Isadora necklace as seen in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, well last week I was lucky enough to be invited to the press preview and I wasn’t disappointed.

This is a huge exhibition, there are more than a hundred costumes from some of the most iconic films – from Scarlett O’Hara’s green curtain dress from Gone with the Wind, Joan Crawford’s blue gingham waitress uniform in Mildred Pierce, John Travolta’s white-3-piece suit from Saturday Night Fever, and there is even a huge displays dedicated to Indiana Jones – complete with fedora hat and whip.

Situated over three rooms, this exhibition really embraces the world of movies, literally full of lights, camera and action *sorry couldn’t resist*. As well as having the costumes on displays the lighting, the sound, and the use of technology makes you feel like you are in the cinema. Granted it maybe a little dark in places, a little noisy, and somewhat spooky seeing a slow-moving image of the actors face displayed on a TV screen suspended above the costume, but I think that adds to the atmosphere of the exhibition.

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The three rooms are designed to tell the story of costume design, from the role of the costume designer in cinema, the creative process of collaborations, and finishing up with the finale, which is basically an overload of all the best known costumes in cinema history – all your heroes and heroines are there. Even some of my favourites are included such as Katharine Hepburn’s jewelled evening gown from The Philadelphia Story, Keira Knightley’s green silk from Atonement, Barbra Streisand’s Funny Girl ball gown, and Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods even shines in her pink two-piece suit.

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As the exhibition is sponsored by Harry Winston the jewellery has re-created the famous ‘Isadora’ necklace as worn by Kate Hudson in one of my favourite rom-coms How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Seeing the diamond cluster necklace with its 51.94 carat yellow sapphire drop pendant is one of my highlights – also her yellow silk dress is just as stunning as it is on-screen.

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Another highlight was seeing Edith Head’s pale green suit designed for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds from 1963, this section really brings the costume to life with the use of technology. I don’t want to give it away, but I could have spent all day just checking this one section out, the interviews and the sketches were really incredible – also pretty cool seeing the birds fly over the display.

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The exhibition is open to the public until January 27, 2013 – so you don’t need to rush – give yourself plenty of time to take it all in. Tickets are £14 each and I would recommend booking online – this is going to be a popular exhibition.

I am not going to spoil the exhibition – but can you name all the below films from the costume?

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Mar 25 2012

Movie Review: The Hunger Games – 4 out of 5

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I have been a little, OK a lot obsessed with The Hunger Games trilogy, well last week the first of the series hit the big screen and I wasn’t disappointed. There is a lot of pressure on the movie, not only from Hollywood executives wanting another teen-adult hit on their hands to follow in the footsteps of Harry Potter and Twilight, but mainly from the fans of the book hoping that the film will stay true to the best-seller.

If you are new to the world of The Hunger Games let me give you a quick re-cap without giving too much away. The trilogy written by Suzanne Collins, is set in a dystopian future in a nation known as Panem, which is divided into 12 districts, that each year has to send one boy and one girl chosen by a lottery to compete in a lethal televised contest to the death, with only one victor. The idea of the big brother inspired games was created as a punishment to the districts for a rebellious uprising, and more than that as entertainment for the Capital’s eccentric residents.

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Directed by Gary Ross, the film keeps very true to the book, centring around Katniss Everdeen, a survivor from the poverty-stricken coal mining District 12, after she volunteers for her little sister Prim at the reaping. It is the movie’s scary realism, which is emphasis in the use of a lot of handheld camera work, that completely draws you in from the first act, however, the building of tension with the use of quick disorienting cuts, that are sometimes blurry can be a little distracting.

As well as keeping to the tone of the books, what made this movie shine for me had to be the casting, Jennifer Lawrence was amazing as the strong female heroine, she portrayed Katniss really well showing just the right mix of vulnerability and ruthlessness. Another standout performance came from the under-used Woody Harrelson, who plays Haymitch, a previous Hunger Games champion and mentor to Katniss and Peeta. I loved his interpretation of the character, which was kind of like a washed-up alcoholic boy band member, with his long hair, I just wish we had seen more of the rapport between Haymitch and Katniss.

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Two other surprising roles in the film are Stanley Tucci’s portrayal of chat show host Caesar, who really does add some light-hearted moments, as well as a narrative not included in the book of the behind-the-scenes action in the Capital, which is further helped by games master Seneca, played by Wes Bentley who really impressed me. I really did enjoy the addition of the studio, Caesar’s commentary, and the scenes between President Snow, played by Donald Sutherland and Seneca did pull the back-story of Panem through nicely.

Unlike the book where the expansive characters flowed nicely, they all seemed a little crammed into the film. This led to not much of Gale and Katniss, or the romance/friendship between Peeta and Katniss, or even between her and Cinna, which was one of the relationships I was looking forward to seeing in the film. Lenny Kravitz generally plays himself, well with a bit of gold eyeliner, but I generally left wanting more of him from every scene he was in.

Overall the film is enjoyable, I didn’t leave feeling like they’d destroyed the tone of the books, just that I wanted more. As I had read the book I found that the two and a half hours flew by, however I went with my boyfriend who hadn’t read them and he was bored, he said too much pre-games and not enough action, whereas I wanted more before.

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One thing that did translate well, except maybe for Katniss’ fire dress on the chariot, which used CGI, was the fashions of the book. I loved everything about Effie Trinket’s crazy haute couture wardrobe that was completely over the top, and it is amazing how unrecognisable Elizabeth Banks is in the role.

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The first things I thought after I came out of the film was that I enjoyed it, that I was sad Madge didn’t make it into the final cut seriously Greasy Sae giving Katniss the Mockingjay Pin wasn’t quite the same, but most of all I left looking forward to The Hunger Games – Catching Fire. Granted it hasn’t been confirmed they are making a second film but after raking in more than $155 at the US box office in its opening weekend I am sure an announcement is coming soon!!!

The Hunger Games, 12A is out now on general release.

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