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Entries in Oscars (80s) (212)

Tuesday
Feb152011

Costuming Helena, Finding Sherlock, Winning Oscar

INTERVIEW
As one half of the first costuming team I ever noticed as a young movie fanatic, interviewing JENNY BEAVAN was a special treat. She's currently enjoying her ninth Oscar nomination for her work on The King's Speech. This is her third solo nomination. She and her former partner John Bright costumed the Ishmael Merchant & James Ivory period dramas that I grew up obsessing over: A Room With A View, Howard's End, Maurice and the like. When Jenny and I spoke to discuss her current Oscar run for The King's Speech, however, it was less period drama and more modern comedy. "I'm guessing as to what you're saying" she told me while technical difficulties had us both comically shouting into our phones / computers until the situation was resolved.

We began at the beginning.

Merchant/Ivory is after all, a very good place to start, both for a young film buff in the 80s and a costume designer embarking on a huge career in the movies.  "That was my start in the whole thing," Beavan recalled, noting that the films were great fun to do.

The Merchant & Ivory Days
John Bright's name was peppered throughout her conversation. In fact, she had just seen him earlier that day. I had long wondered why they stopped working together. "We were known as Jenny Bright and John Beavan," she says about their close partnership. "I mean, he is just one of my absolutely best friends and also my most important collaborator. Believe me we're still collaborating. Just not so officially."

As it turns out Bright owns and runs Cosprop, a hugely important costume house which specializes in period wear,  an enormous job in and of itself though he still does the odd film. I mention how much I love his work on the ravishing The White Countess (2005) with elicits a barrage of superlatives from Beavan. "Absolutely brilliant!" 

Howards End (1992), a masterpiece.

We discuss a particular moment in Howards End that I'm very fond of. The Schlegel sisters (Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham-Carter) walking home one evening run into Mr Wilcox (Anthony Hopkins). One can't get enough of the beauty of that movie. The clothes are so modest but there's such sensuality to them and something so resonant and bohemian about the sisters. Beavan credits the screenplay with the specificity that makes character costuming easier and the actresses with the film's modernity.

Beavan, having logged a lot of time in costume dramas, thinks there's real power with staying utterly within period. If you step away from the period, she explains "it looks wrong and then you get a sort of worry in the audience."  Producers, particularly the America ones, she shares, don't like to see hats in the movies. And sometimes you just have to use hats. "Everybody wore hats up until the 1950s in England!" she says with feigned exasperation.

My grandmother would never go out without a hat on. She wouldn't have felt dressed.

After the golden period of the Merchant/Ivory films, Beavan's official partnership with John Bright ended and  the designer got a chance to "fly a bit more my own." That's what one might call an understatement.

READ THE REST for thoughts on Helena Bonham Carter's style, "finding" Sherlock Holmes and more.

 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan052011

"I'm an excellent driver"

Yes, readers, the blog goes right here. Everything's now in one place. (Well, everything except co-productions which alternate location like Best Pictures From the Outside In and such.)

Fake Jew, Real ScientologistNick, Mike and I are proud to bring back "Best Pictures From the Outside In" series for its 20th episode (the halfway mark). The films are Gentleman's Agreement in which Gregory Peck poses as a Jewish man to write a scathing expose on anti-Semitism and Tom Cruise plays a cocky jerk who suddenly finds he is with family (no, not in that way) in Rain Man.

If you're new to the series and need a refresher, here is the index to all 20 episodes. Nick, being the overachiever that he is, also keeps a tournament list a readers poll and ranks all the winners.

Please join in the conversation of that episode at Goatdog's blog. There's so much to discuss. Do you love the 80s time capsule of Rain Man. Do you like being lectured to by Gregory Peck? Mike sums both films up in an animated 2 minute recap, I share my theory on how Tom Cruise inspired Twitter (no really) and Nick overshares his Scientology (not really).

P.S. I think you should know that Bull Durham was totally robbed of an Oscar nomination in 1988 and Black Narcissus (which we recently wrote about) was robbed in 1947. What were they thinking?

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