Toronto 2018 Dispatch: Chinese Costume Actioners SHADOW and LEGEND OF THE DEMON CAT are Two Sides of the Same Coin

Toronto 2018 Dispatch: Chinese Costume Actioners SHADOW and LEGEND OF THE DEMON CAT are Two Sides of the Same CoinThere’s no doubting the stature of Chinese master directors Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige. These two stalwarts of the Fifith Generation of Chinese filmmakers burst onto the cinematic landscape with 20th century-set films Red Sorghum and Farewell My Concubine respectively. But arguably they are best known in the West for their martial arts costume epics Hero and House of Flying Daggers (Zhang) and The Emperor and the Assassin and The Promise (Chen). Both men are back playing in the period piece sandbox with two films at Toronto — Zhang’s Shadow and the all new director’s cut of Chen’s Legend of the Demon Cat. It’s great to see the masters back at it. But perhaps it’s most notable that the films share both some remarkable differences — and some striking similarities.

For Zhang, it has been a over a decade since his last martial arts epic, Curse of the Golden Flower (assuming you are able to overlook last year’s Matt Damon-starring monster movie The Great Wall). In Shadow, his hyper stylized visual tactics are back, though they are notable for the restraint he shows. Influenced by Chinese ink-wash paintings, Zhang desaturates his mise-en-scene to the point where it appears almost black and white. This contrasts to striking effect with the natural skin tones of the actors’ minimally exposed faces and hands, the occasional vibrant green plant, and of course the scarlet of the blood that is so often spilt.

Adopting quite the opposite tactic, Chen’s Legend of the Demon Cat is one of the most colorful movies in recent memory with his imperial red uniforms, opulent gold sets, blue monk robes, and, you guessed it, scarlet blood. Of course modern computer imagery and color techniques play an enormous role in the visual design of both films. But while Zhang makes efforts to minimize the impact leaving audiences asking, “did that actually look like that?” Chen dials it up to 11 and asks audiences to give themselves over to his sumptuous fantasy world.


While Shadow is a Shakespearean tale of revenge and Legend of the Demon Cat a light-hearted supernatural mystery, both films share one large narrative trait. They are both pretty damned confusing. It’s been said this new director’s cut of Legend of the Demon Cat goes a long way to solving the narrative foibles that marred the original release (a version I have not seen), but I still found myself scratching my head trying to figure out which characters in the main timeline were connected to the previous timeline and why exactly the Demon Cat was after them. Eventually I just gave up and enjoyed how incredibly pretty the film is to look at. The plot is certainly not incomprehensible, it’s just not really important enough to worry about.

Likewise, in Shadow, there are some pretty big narrative hurdles to clear in understanding the machinations of the story’s raging war. This is not helped by the stylized desaturation, the enormous headgear the characters wear, and the fact the plot involves characters who are supposed to look alike. Luckily there aren’t quite as many characters to keep track of, and the dialog-rich first half of the film eventually gives way to an action-packed second.

Both Shadow and Legend of the Demon Cat (the director’s cut, at least) provide an interesting opportunity to check in with two great Chinese filmmakers and see how they have progressed as directors. While it’s no huge surprise that these kind of epic action films find them focusing more on dazzling visuals than taut storylines, it is encouraging to find them both trying new things with such an old genre. Just sit back, enjoy, and don’t ask too many questions.


‘A Simple Favor’ costume designer talks about mining mommy bloggers — and the film’s director — for inspiration

'A Simple Favor' costume designer talks about mining mommy bloggers — and the film's director — for inspiration
Costume designer Renée Ehrlich Kalfus has more than two dozen feature film credits to her name including “The Cider House Rules,” “Chocolat” and “Hidden Figures,” the last of which earned her a Costume Designers Guild Award for period film in 2017.

However, she considers “A Simple Favor,” the upcoming suburban noir film starring Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick (in theaters Sept. 14), to be among the most fun films she’s worked on. One of the biggest reasons? The film’s style-loving, suit-wearing director Paul Feig, whose credits include “Bridesmaids,” “Spy,” “The Heat” and the 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot.

Here are excerpts from a recent conversation about the film’s costumes and their inspiration.

I’ve heard that director Paul Feig comes to the set every day in a suit and tie. Is that true?
Every single day! The whole time we were filming he only let his guard down — ever so slightly — once. We were filming at [a] lake location in the woods, and he’s there in these beautiful brogue boots, jeans, a perfectly turned-out sports jacket and vest and tie. He’s always dressed!

You’d never worked with him before, right? What was it like to work with someone who clearly knows his way around a wardrobe trailer?
Yes, this was our first time working together, but at some point, we kind of looked at each other like, ‘How did it take this long?’ He’s this sartorial dream … and I love anybody with great taste.

How did the director’s behind-the-scenes style end up influencing Blake Lively’s on-screen look?
Blake’s character Emily Nelson is this PR maven, a really, really stylish and powerful New York woman. At first, part of me didn’t want to cover up this beautiful girl with these beautiful legs but I started brainstorming with Blake and she said that [her character] should dress like Paul. I think it was, “Exactly like Paul — full-on men’s suiting!” After she said that, we both got really giddy because, of course, it was the perfect idea.

Paul Feig with Blake Lively at the Aug. 20 MTV Video Music Awards, left, the director at the Ralph Lauren boutique in Beverly Hills, center, and at the July 25 "The Spy Who Dumped Me" premiere, right. His penchant for suits inspired some of the costumes in "A Simple Favor."

What made it such a perfect idea?
That [Emily’s] this incredibly devious woman [living] in the [Connecticut] suburbs. She’s completely out of place and doesn’t give a hoot. She could[n’t] care less about fitting in, and [the suits] just seemed like an extremely powerful and very iconic way to go about [showing] that.

That was one of the reasons it just clicked. Emily Nelson is just like Paul [Feig is] or Tom Wolfe [was]. They’re saying, “This is who I am and I’m never going to try and be like those other people.” I think there’s always a reason, a deeper mind set, why somebody’s [dressing] like that. You’re either branding yourself, protecting yourself or disguising yourself. And there’s some armor to that too.

Were there any other inspirational touch points for Emily’s look?
I wish I could show you my mood board. We actually had all these women in suits from the ’30s and ’40s — Katharine Hepburn, Lauren Bacall; Lauren Bacall is almost like [the epitome of] the branded icon. We looked at Madonna and we looked at men’s suiting in lots and lots of movies.

Anna Kendrick, left, and Blake Lively star in the upcoming film "A Simple Favor."

Where did you find the menswear-inspired suits Blake’s character wears?
The women’s suits were from around 2010 to 2011, and they were loaned to us from the Ralph Lauren archives. That was [only] possible because of Paul’s — and Blake’s — relationship with them. We had some pieces custom made like the pull-away dickie and French cuffs Blake removes in one scene. Those were by Anto [of Beverly Hills].

Wardrobe-wise, the visual counterpoint to fashion publicist Emily Nelson is mommy blogger Stephanie played by Anna Kendrick. What was the inspirational starting point for her look?
Stephanie was also sort of out of place in this suburban world and also trying to brand herself as a mommy blogger. I looked at a lot of these vloggers on Instagram and found an adorable one that was such a perfect contrast. It was a “This is how you DIY kitty cats on your collar” sort of thing. That’s why she’s wearing things like the Alice + Olivia sweater with all these little pompoms on it with a lace floral skirt with cutouts.

We also had her in some bright colors. At one point, it’s a coral pink sweater I think we found at a consignment shop, and in one of the early scenes, she’s wearing a canary yellow J. Crew raincoat. She had a presence — she certainly wasn’t missable — but Blake had this whole other kind of style altogether.

Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) has a look inspired by DIY mommy bloggers, says "A Simple Favor" costume designer Renée Ehrlich Kalfus.

Fun-wise, how did working on “A Simple Favor” compare to some of the other films you’ve worked on?
I rank it really high because the rest of my favorites — “Hidden Figures” was amazing, “Chocolat” was amazing and so was “Cider House Rules” — were all period [films], which is always a dream for a [costume] designer. But doing a modern-day movie with a director like Paul was just as much costume porn as doing a gorgeous period movie.

One last question: If you were the costume designer on a movie about Paul Feig, where would you start?
I’d go to straight to his tailor — to Anderson & Sheppard — first. But I’d probably want to do the more outrageous stuff — the purple windowpane checks on gray plaid. I’d definitely go with color.


Levis Commons to host ‘Costume Clean Out’ to help kids in need

The witch from last year is old news and that princess in the closet is no longer her style. So what do you do with these costumes of Halloweens past?

Donate them!

Levis Commons will be hosting the second annual “Costume Clean Out” for you to donate those gently-used costumes to kids in the community.

On Sunday, September 30, costumes can be donated on the patio area near Blue Pacific Grill at Levis Commons between the hours of noon and 4 p.m.

Blue Pacific will also offer 10% off your meal when you make a costume donation.

All Levis visitors can explore the boulevard to find six of the trendiest professionally costumed characters. From Elastigirl to Spiderman, the classic favorites to the latest craze, they will be there in various places to meet, greet and take photos.

All costumes donated will be given to Family House of Toledo, a family homeless shelter with transition programs, childcare and family support services.

“This is a simple way to clean out those old costumes from your home, and share them with kids who may otherwise not get to experience the fun of Halloween, all while being inspired by the professional characters that will be joining us that day,” said Allison Schroeder, Levis Commons Marketing Director.

The costume fun doesn’t stop with the kids.

Four-legged fur babies are invited to come out for a Dog Costume Parade and Contest.

All costumed dogs should meet on the patio area near Blue Pacific Grill at 3 p.m.

Professional photos of your dog will be offered for just $10 each prior to the parade kick off at 4 p.m.

The parade will be led by Woofgang Dog Daycare and include ramps and obstacles for the adventurous pooch.

The costume contest will be sponsored by Three Dog Bakery and include some awesome puppy prizes.


Disney’s Baby Halloween 2018 Costumes Are Going To Make Oct. 31 The Happiest Day On Earth

Your baby has absolutely no idea what Halloween is all about, but that’s no reason to avoid going all out… right? Even if they aren’t old enough to say “Trick or treat!” or eat the candy themselves, they still need an adorable Halloween costume for the photo ops. Plus, a good mom is always willing to help her little one eat the candy they can’t. If you’re looking for a perfect, precious Halloween costume for your little one, you’re in for a treat. Disney’s baby Halloween costumes are seriously amazing, and sure to make this Oct. 31 The Happiest Halloween On Earth.
Right now, Shop Disney is running a promotion on all Halloween swag, too. If your order is over $50, you can get 20 percent off all costume and costume accessories by using the code DRESSUP. This is perfect if you’re buying costumes for multiple children (or if you’re buying one for yourself, too). If your order ends up being over $75, you can also get free shipping using the code SHIPMAGIC. Considering the only thing I like as much as sweet baby Halloween costumes and plastic pumpkins full of candy is saving money with coupon codes, I’m pretty pleased.

1.Snow White

Snow White is a Disney classic, and so is her beautiful princess dress. This costume comes with the sweet little dress and red hair bow, and for an extra $6 you can customize the dress and get your baby’s name printed on it! Note that the shoes pictured are sold separately (for $10).



The perfect Halloween costume for your incredible baby! This costume comes with the body suit and face mask (although the jury’s out if your baby will actually let you, you know, put the mask on their face). The Disney Store also sells Mr. Incredible, Elasti-girl, Violet, and Dash costumes so you can all match!


I’m partial to this costume because Dumbo was always my favorite Disney movie — I’d take a flying elephant over a princess any day! This costume comes with the body suit and the head piece, so you’ll need to supply the leggings.


How cute is this? Whether you’re a Star Wars fanatic or not, you’ve got to find this oversized, fuzzy costume absolutely adorable. It comes with the bodysuit and head piece, and it looks like it’ll feel like one big, warm hug.


Any other The Nightmare Before Christmas fans? This spooky little Sally costume is perfect for your baby. This costume comes with a patchwork dress just like in the film, plus the matching hat. The shoes are sold separately for $10. FYI, there is also a Jack Skellington costume for sale!


Literally no one can handle the cuteness of a baby Stitch, you guys. Just look at it! You get the bodysuit and hat for this price, but for an additional $10, you can pick up the Stitch shoes, too.


You guys, my heart hurts looking at this. How perfect for your bouncy baby, right? Like the other sets, the $25 gets you the bodysuit and hat, but you can spring (get it?) for the Tigger shoes, too.

8.Captain Hook

Leave it to a baby to make one of the most feared Disney villains look absolutely adorable. For your little one to be Captain Hook and terrorize Neverland, they’ll need this costume that includes the pants, top, hat, fabric collar ruffle, and hook. Luckily for you (and everyone else), the hook is made of soft foam, so no worries about anyone losing an eye from Captain Hook in the stroller.



Emma Stone and director Yorgos Lanthimos reinvent the costume drama with ‘The Favourite’

Emma Stone and director Yorgos Lanthimos reinvent the costume drama with 'The Favourite'

Love them or hate them – and they tend to provoke strong reactions – the films of Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos have consistently demonstrated a flair for the perverse and a resistance to easy categorization.

Lanthimos’ 2009 breakout, “Dogtooth,” which earned a foreign language Oscar nomination, was a pitch-dark portrait of a family taking home schooling to a bizarre extreme. “The Lobster” from 2011 was a dystopian comedy in which single people are given 45 days to find a romantic partner to avoid being turned into animals. 2017’s psychological thriller “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” centered on a cardiac surgeon whose family falls prey to mysterious illnesses after being cursed by a disturbed teenage boy.

While no less unapologetically strange and twisted, Lanthimos’ newest film, the gonzo period dramedy “The Favourite,” may be his most accessible to date – and, judging by enthusiastic early reactions at the Venice and Telluride film festivals, the Fox Searchlight release due to open Nov. 23 could be teed up for a strong awards-season run.

Set in the 18th century court of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), the film centers on the increasingly vicious, sexually charged power struggle between two scheming cousins, played by Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, as they vie for the emotionally volatile queen’s favor. Oscar prognosticators are already predicting that all three actresses will be in the mix as awards season rolls along.

The morning after the film’s first screenings at Telluride, The Times spoke with Lanthimos and Stone about upending the conventions of the period drama, the joy of wearing corsets and why you shouldn’t hold your breath for Lanthimos to make a superhero movie.

Emma Stone and director Yorgos Lanthimos last month at the Venice Film Festival.

You generally go into a period costume drama expecting a certain kind of movie, and that usually doesn’t include things like a slow-motion duck race or scenes shot through a fisheye lens or filthy language. Was part of the appeal of this movie that you could take this sometimes stuffy genre and crack it open?

Lanthimos: Initially I was just interested in the story, but then in addition to that, the fact that it was a period film and I hadn’t made one, I thought it would be interesting to try and do something that gave a little bit of a twist to the genre and see what comes out. That was definitely part of it.

Stone: I just loved the script and I loved that it was such a unique version of a story set in 1705. [to Lanthimos] Is it 1705? I keep saying that.

Lanthimos: Somewhere around that. Don’t be specific.

Stone: But I like being specific.

Lanthimos: Yeah, but we’re not with the film. We’ve taken a lot of liberties with this story.

Stone: [in mock horror] We have? Oh no! I’ve told everybody this was historically factually accurate! This is going to be a movie they’ll show in history classes!

Emma, what were your expectations of working with Yorgos after seeing his earlier movies?

Stone: Well, I think I saw “Dogtooth” before I met him but I saw “The Lobster” after I met him, if I remember correctly. So I thought he was going to be a psychopath when I sat down with him. [laughs] I was like, “Oh God, this is going to be very scary.”

Then we sat down and he’s so normal and sweet that it was very confusing for me. I just wanted to see what it was going to be like. And it was a combination of both: sweet and scary. That’s you in a nutshell.



Innocent Toad mask conceals unknown horrors

What lies within?

It’s September, which means we all need to start thinking about what we’re going to be for Halloween. Why not Toad?

That’s a great question: Why not Toad? Why not Toad? Why not Toad? Why not Toad?

This is why.

Listed on Amazon as the “Disguise Men’s Toad Costume Accessory Mask – Adult,” this Toad mask, pictured above, is an affront to the senses. The way it transforms the model’s head into the entirety of Toad’s mushroom head, the majority of his face obscured by the bulbous, polka-dotted top section.

Toad’s tiny, black, dead eyes demand your attention, but lurking just above are another set of eyes, obscured slightly by a large red dot, but still present and leering. Which set do you look upon?

The answer is neither. You avert your eyes. You turn around quickly and you run.

Toad’s head does not belong on this human-sized body. It’s an abomination.

A more reasonable person would select a different costume. Maybe a mask of Mario, or an alternative take on a Toad costume that takes human body proportions into account.

Have you chosen this mask to strike fear in the hearts of the ones you love?

Imagine this masked individual, staring at you from across the room. Their head tilts, just slightly, to the side. They move toward you. Slowly at first, and then quickly.

You want to run but you cannot. You’re frozen. Who lies beneath that mask? What kind of person would choose to wear this?

Not the kind of person you want to associate with.


Get Your DIY Skills in Order — This Cleopatra Costume Is for the Advanced

Not sure what to be this Halloween? Instead of joining a group of pals as yet another Snapchat filter, why not stand out with a costume that’s part Ancient Egyptian, part badass babe? Cleopatra is the ultimate Halloween look, and with a little patience, some careful eyeliner, and well-chosen accessories, you’ll be able to craft up a Queen-of-Egypt-inspired Halloween costume that’s sure to blow everyone away. And since not everyone is a DIY pro, we’re going to show you how to do a Cleopatra costume no matter whether you’re a beginner or a master-level costumer.

This time around, it’s all about a little DIY combined with a seriously advanced makeup and accessory game. Think: a blinged-out prom dress taken to the nines, paired with geometric winged liner to boot. Below we show you how.

What you’ll need to bring your look to life:

A wig (with bangs)
Bedazzled prom dress (thrifted)
Gold fabric (we used a thrifted table runner)
Gold drop necklace
Trim with print
Snake earrings
How to put it all together:

1.Try your hand at styling. Even though you’ve bought a wig with bangs, there’s a good chance that they’re not cut to Cleopatra’s liking. Lay your wig flat and use a pair of ultra-sharp scissors to snip the bangs a tad shorter than they already are. The goal isn’t so much baby fringe as it is micro bangs, so be sure to cut them about an inch up from your brows. To make sure you have the right length, try the wig on first to get a feel for how much to cut.

2.Create your custom headpiece. To make the headpiece, cut out a crown shape strip of your gold fabric and hot-glue it to fit your head.

3.Take it up a notch. Next, cut fabric strips to hang from the sides of your crown to create a Pharaoh-inspired look. Snip these pieces up the side to create a fringe effect and hot glue them to the sides of your headpiece. Next, add the patterned trim to each side, and use the leftovers to make an eye-catching choker to go around your neck.

4.Give your crown the finishing touch. Add the snake earring to the center of the crown for an embellished finish.

5.Slay your Cleopatra face beat. Start off with our flawless face tutorial to master your base. Next, sculpt your brows using black or deep brown shadow or a brow pencil. In true Cleopatra fashion, you want to *really* exaggerate your arches. After you’ve beat your brows to perfection, sweep a light blue metallic shadow across your eyelids, highlighting with a brighter, lighter blue on your brow bone, inner eye corners, and center of your eyelid. Next, apply a slightly deeper blue in the crease and outside corner to add depth and shape. Once you’ve nailed your eyeshadow, use liquid liner around the rim of your eye, extending it out to create a geometric wing. To really spice things up, go over your upper eyeliner line with a gold glitter liner and fill the triangle wing with the same light-reflecting color. Finish your look with a set of voluminous false lashes, a nude lip, and bronze-y blush — et voila! You’re ready to steal the room as you walk like an Egyptian.


The Perfect Cleopatra Halloween Costume for Intermediate DIY-ers

Not sure what to be this Halloween? Instead of joining a group of pals as yet another Snapchat filter, why not stand out with a costume that’s part Ancient Egyptian, part badass babe? Cleopatra is the ultimate Halloween look, and with a little patience, some careful eyeliner, and well-chosen accessories, you’ll be able to craft up a Queen-of-Egypt-inspired Halloween costume that’s sure to blow everyone away. And since not everyone is a DIY pro, we’re going to show you how to do a Cleopatra costume no matter whether you’re a beginner or a master-level costumer.

DIY Intermediate Cleopatra Halloween Costume

If you’re not quite a novice but still feel like you have some room to grow when it comes to your DIY skills, you’ll be glad to know that we have the perfect Cleopatra costume just for you: Pair one signature accessory with clothing you may already have in your closet, and top it off with approachable, attention-grabbing makeup that will tie your whole look together. Keep scrolling to find out how.

What you’ll need to bring your look to life:
A wig (with bangs)
Colorful dress from your closet or thrift store
Gold lashes

DIY Intermediate Cleopatra Halloween Costume
How to put it all together:
1. Try your hand at styling. Even though you’ve bought a wig with bangs, there’s a good chance that they’re not cut to Cleopatra’s liking. Lay your wig flat and use a pair of ultra-sharp scissors to snip the bangs a tad shorter than they already are. The goal isn’t so much baby fringe as it is micro bangs, so be sure to cut them about an inch up from your brows. To make sure you have the right length, try the wig on first to get a feel for how much to cut.

2. Take your hairstyle up a notch. To achieve major Cleopatra vibes, place a headpiece over your wig. If you feel any slip or are worried about it falling off at any point, pop in a few bobby pins for a little extra hold.

3. Give yourself a glimmering gold makeover. Begin with our flawless face tutorial. Next, apply gold shimmering shadow to your eyelids, going deeper in the creases and expanding beyond the outside corners of your eyes. While you’re at it, bring it down onto the lower lash line with a brighter gold on the inside corners for a little extra pop. For liner, use a liquid to create the eye of Horus. It helps to use a fine tip liner pen or brush with gel liner. When tracing it on, expand the inside corners onto the sides of the bridge of your nose and wing it like an exaggerated cat eye on the outside corners. Add a bold brow using deep brown brow shadow, keeping your arches bold but not exaggerated, and top it off with a set of false gold eyelashes and a bold pink lip. Easy enough, right?



Walk Among the Dinosaurs in This Ridiculously On-Point ‘Jurassic World’ Costume


If you’ve been a fan of Jurassic Park ever since that epic Jeep/T. Rex scene, here’s one group Halloween costume you won’t want to overlook. Travel into the world of genetically engineered reptiles with his, hers, and dinosaur ensembles inspired by this summer’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Get ready to bust out your best jungle garb with a scene straight out of a classic. Your friends will be so impressed — even before your T. Rex crew rolls in!

First things first: Dinosaurs. To save on a full-body paint job, this mask ($19) and snake print leotard ($26) will make you (and two friends, shown here) look like the real deal. If you’re going for a complete look (and we highly recommend it!), use a makeup sponge to tap an array of blues and greens onto your skin for a scaly effect.

Jurassic World

Next, grab your best guy and let him play one of the fearless park guests. Dress him in dark pants and a button-up, finished off with a utility vest . And sweeten the deal by reminding him he’ll be able to walk around with a faux weapon .

And for the leading lady? Give her a “tropical tourist” look by dressing her in all whites. Match a monochrome thrifted pencil skirt with a button-up top and pastel camisole for a style that’ll put her right onto the set.

Jurassic World

Now, put the whole crew together and get ready for your best adventure yet.


Demi Lovato’s tour costume going up for auction

Demi Lovato in a black version of the costume up for auction

Demi Lovato fans now have the chance to own an outfit guaranteed to make them feel “Confident.”

Nate D. Sanders Auctions will host the sale of one of the sequined unitards the pop star wore onstage during her 2016 tour with Nick Jonas.

Beginning on Aug. 30, fans will have a chance to bid on Lovato’s custom-made costume, which features floor-grazing, cape-like sleeves, white sequin-covered briefs, a plunging neckline held together via sheer netting and statement-making shoulder pads.

Not only did the singer sign the back of the garment in black marker, but the lot will also be accompanied by a signed photo of Lovato wearing the look onstage, as well as a certificate of authenticity from the Shawn Carter Foundation.