A Star is Born: Bradley Cooper’s Grammy Awards Suit

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star is Born (2018)

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Bradley Cooper as Jackson Maine, substance-abusing country-rock star

Los Angeles, Spring 2017

Film: A Star is Born
Release Date: October 5, 2018
Director: Bradley Cooper
Costume Designer: Erin Benach

Background

As the 65th annual Grammy Awards are tonight, I wanted to revisit a request from my friend @thestyleisnotenough to write about the country rock style from Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, the third remake of A Star is Born. I’ve already waxed poetic about his tan Runabout Goods trucker jacket, so—in the spirit of tonight’s music industry awards—let’s dive into the suit that Jackson Maine (Cooper) wears for the 2018 movie’s in-universe Grammys where his wife Ally (Lady Gaga) is being honored as the Best New Artist… quite possibly the very worst opportunity for a drunk and drugged-up Jack to clamber onto the stage and pee his pants as she accepts the award. Continue reading

All the Old Knives: Chris Pine’s Peacoat

Chris Pine as Henry Pelham in All the Old Knives (2022)
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Chris Pine as Henry Pelham, CIA “clandestine case officer extraordinaire”

London, Winter 2020

Film: All the Old Knives
Release Date: April 8, 2022
Director: Janus Metz Pedersen
Costume Designer: Stephanie Collie

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

On one hand, I appreciated All the Old Knives‘ dedication to a le Carré-esque depiction of spywork as more of a subdued, slow-burning investigation rather than the action-packed world of James Bond and Ethan Hunt. On the other hand, does “subdued” necessarily have to feel so… subdued?

Nearly eight years after the disastrous terrorist attack of Turkish Airlines Flight 127, the CIA reopens its investigation with the secret information that the hijackers may have been assisted by a mole within its Vienna station. Agent Henry Pelham (Chris Pine) is assigned to the case by his chief Vick Wallinger (Laurence Fishburne), who advises him not to tread lightly even if the clues should point to Pelham’s former fellow agent and paramour Celia (Thandiwe Newton). Continue reading

Devotion: Jonathan Majors’ Flight Suit as Jesse Brown

Jonathan Majors as ENS Jesse Brown in Devotion (2022)

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Jonathan Majors as ENS Jesse L. Brown, groundbreaking U.S. Naval Aviator

From Quonset Point, Rhode Island to the Korean coast, Spring to Fall 1950

Film: Devotion
Release Date: November 23, 2022
Director: J.D. Dillard
Costume Designer: Deirdra Elizabeth Govan

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

February is Black History Month, a fitting occasion to highlight the life and career of trailblazers like Jesse Brown, the first African-American aviator to complete the U.S. Navy flight training program.

Jesse LeRoy Brown was born on October 13, 1926, perhaps coincidentally sharing a “birthday” with the U.S. Navy itself as this was exactly 151 years to the day after the Continental Navy was founded in 1775. Two years after he enlisted in the Navy, Brown received his pilot wings in October 1948 and was commissioned as an ensign (OF-1) six months later. Ensigns Brown stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Leyte when it was ordered to Korea at the start of the war in the summer of 1950, ultimately flying 20 combat missions in an F4U-4 Corsair, a propeller-driven fighter whose fatalist nicknames of the “Ensign Eliminator” and “Widowmaker” never deterred the courageous aviator. Continue reading

Gene Hackman as Royal Tenenbaum

Gene Hackman as Royal Tenenbaum in The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

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Gene Hackman as Royal Tenenbaum, hedonistic patriarch

New York City, Fall to winter 2001

Film: The Royal Tenenbaums
Release Date: December 14, 2001
Director: Wes Anderson
Costume Designer: Karen Patch

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Happy 93rd birthday to Gene Hackman, the versatile two-time Oscar-winning actor born January 30, 1930 in San Bernardino. Hackman’s prolific career began during the “New Hollywood” era with excellent performances in films like Bonnie & ClydeThe French Connection, and The Conversation, with many more hits in the decades to follow. Before he retired from acting in 2004, Hackman delivered one of his most memorable performances as the eponymous estranged patriarch in The Royal Tenenbaums. Continue reading

Brendan Fraser in The Mummy

Brendan Fraser as Rick O’Connell in The Mummy (1999)

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Brendan Fraser as Rick O’Connell, American adventurer and former Legionnaire

Egypt, Summer 1926

Film: The Mummy
Release Date: May 7, 1999
Director: Stephen Sommers
Costume Designer: John Bloomfield

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

A quarter-century after its release, The Mummy is finding renewed love among audiences, no doubt due to star Brendan Fraser who has been enjoying a own career renaissance following his Oscar-nominated turn in The Whale that has already won the actor more than two dozen awards.

Directed and written by Stephen Sommers, The Mummy updated Karl Freund’s 1932 thriller of the same name, released among a wave of Universal’s now-iconic horror films including Dracula and Frankenstein. Sommers’ adaptation retained the supernatural elements while playing down the horror in favor of a more lighthearted adventure story inspired by Errol Flynn’s screen swashbucklers and the classic serials that influenced the character of Indiana Jones, to whom Fraser’s roguish Rick O’Connell has been likened. Continue reading

Tom Selleck in Quigley Down Under

Tom Selleck as Matthew Quigley in Quigley Down Under (1990)

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Tom Selleck as Matthew Quigley, taciturn sharpshooter from Wyoming

Western Australia, early 1870s

Film: Quigley Down Under
Release Date: October 17, 1990
Director: Simon Wincer
Costume Designer: Wayne A. Finkelman

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

I only recently learned that January 26 is observed as Australia Day, a national holiday that commemorates the landing of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788 and is celebrated today by presentations of the Australian of the Year Awards and announcement of the Australia Day Honours. Since at least 1938, which was the 150th anniversary of the landing, there has been a movement led by Indigenous Australians to redefine the observance as Invasion Day or Survival Day, a Day of Mourning for the British arrival that resulted in often violent colonization.

Given the movie’s setting and themes of a protagonist who refuses to engage in violence against Aborigines, the unique 1990 Western Quigley Down Under felt like an appropriate choice to write about today.

As suggested by the latter two-thirds of its title, Quigley Down Under follows the tradition of predecessors like The Sundowners (1960) and Ned Kelly (1970) as an Australian-set Western, or “meat pie Western”. The eponymous Quigley is Matthew Quigley (Tom Selleck), a cowboy with a penchant for riflery. Continue reading

In Bruges: Colin Farrell as Ray

Colin Farrell as Ray in In Bruges (2008)

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Colin Farrell as Ray, conflicted contract killer

Bruges, Belgium, Winter 2007

Film: In Bruges
Release Date: February 8, 2008
Director: Martin McDonagh
Costume Designer: Jany Temime

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Shortly thereafter, the instructions came through: “Get the fook out of London youse dumb fucks. Get to Bruges.” I didn’t even know where Bruges fuckin’ was. It’s in Belgium.

Despite it being directly up my alley, I somehow went 15 years without seeing In Bruges, Martin McDonagh’s critically acclaimed hit that opened the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. For his performance as the exiled hitman Ray, Colin Farrell received his first Golden Globe Award for In Bruges, fifteen years before winning his second this year for his performance in The Banshees of Inisherin, which re-teamed him with McDonagh and co-star Brendan Gleeson and also landed Farrell his first Academy Award nomination as announced this morning.

Following a botched first job in which he assassinates a priest and, tragically, a young boy in the path of one of his bullets, the inexperienced and irritable Ray is sent with his good-natured and literal partner-in-crime Ken (Brendn Gleeson) to Bruges, where they’re to lay low and await further instructions from their profane boss Harry Waters (Ralph Fiennes). Continue reading

Warren Beatty in McCabe and Mrs. Miller

Warren Beatty as John McCabe in McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971)

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Warren Beatty as John McCabe, enterprising gambler and pimp

Presbyterian Church, Washington, Fall to winter 1902

Film: McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Release Date: June 24, 1971
Director: Robert Altman
Wardrobe Credit: Ilse Richter

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

There are moments every January where I envy the idiosyncratic wardrobe of John McCabe, warmly swaddled in hefty furs as he trots into the humble hamlet of Presbyterian Church, Washington, scored by Leonard Cohen’s mournful baritone.

One of the most prolific pioneers of the “New Hollywood” movement that began in the 1960s, Robert Altman followed up his maverick success with MASH (1970) and his artistic experiment with Brewster McCloud (1970) by setting his sights on one of the most venerated genres in American cinema. Altman and Brian McKay adapted a 1959 novel by Edmund Naughton to deliver McCabe & Mrs. Miller, which the director would ultimately deem an “anti-Western” for its subversion of genre conventions and expectations. Continue reading

Glass Onion: Noah Segan as Derol

Noah Segan as Derol in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022)

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Noah Segan as Derol, carefree stoner who’s “going through some things”

Spetses, Greece, May 2020

Film: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Release Date: November 23, 2022
Director: Rian Johnson
Costume Designer: Jenny Eagan

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Derol is definitely having a moment right now! From articles in Variety to countless memes, the laidback loafer played by Noah Segan has quietly risen as a fan favorite among the star-studded cast of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery in the month since it premiered on Netflix.

Glass Onion is set in May 2020, two months into the global lockdown resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the nonchalant Derol reminds me of the vibe I had aspired to at this stage in lockdown: unbothered, staying in my lane, growing out my hair and chilling. Continue reading

The Great Gatsby: Howard Da Silva as Meyer Wolfsheim

Howard Da Silva as Meyer Wolfsheim in The Great Gatsby (1974)

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Howard Da Silva as Meyer Wolfsheim, legendary gambler

New York City, Summer 1925

Film: The Great Gatsby
Release Date: March 29, 1974
Director: Jack Clayton
Costume Designer: Theoni V. Aldredge

Background

Though perhaps not as well known as his gangland contemporaries today, Prohibition-era racketeer Arnold Rothstein served as the basis for generations of fictional characters in pop culture for generations after his 1928 murder.

Born on this day in 1882, Rothstein began gambling at a young age, was reportedly a millionaire by the time he turned 30, and was most likely integral in the infamous “Black Sox Scandal” that accused eight members of the Chicago White Sox of throwing the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.

It may be coincidence that the Volstead Act became official nationwide on his 38th birthday, a gift for the visionary Rothstein who has been considered among the first to recognize the business potential of Prohibition. He was one of the most influential figures in organized crime during the roaring ’20s, forging a bootlegging empire that included notable mobsters like Meyer Lansky, “Lucky” Luciano, and Dutch Schultz, many of whom looked up to Rothstein as a mentor.

Despite these dangerous connections, it’s likely that Rothstein met his early end due to nothing more nefarious than a poker game. After racking up a debt of more than $300,000 due to what Rothstein called a fixed game, the 46-year-old gangster was shot during a business meeting at the Park Central Hotel on November 4, 1928, dying two days later.

Though directly portrayed on screen by the likes of F. Murray Abraham (in the 1991 film Mobsters) and Michael Stuhlbarg (in the first four seasons of Boardwalk Empire), Rothstein’s legacy also includes a bevy of fictional characters that he inspired, including Nathan Detroit in the musical Guys and Dolls and Meyer Wolfsheim in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, as most clearly suggested by an exchange that cites the real Rothstein’s arguably most infamous “achievement”. Continue reading