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A marginally boring piece that has so many unlikeable characters that there is no one to root for. There were a few saving performances, especially those from Kate Hudson and Nicole Kidman. But Marion Cotillard was a complete bore. She literally put me to sleep. Argggg. No wonder the protagonist, Guido Contini, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, was so inclined to cheat on his wife, played by Cotillard. The woman has absolutely no sparkle, no shine, no zest. It's often been said that it takes two to clap and in this case, the failure of the marriage between Guido and Luisa was the fault of both. I completely disagree with a reviewer who said that Nicole Kidman was unbelievable as a screen goddess. In fact, I felt her performance was genuine and absolutely breathtaking. And the fact that her role was so small yet so memorable, is testament to her star quality. I would only suggest watching this movie on rental so you can watch certain scenes repeatedly. I thoroughly enjoyed Kate Hudson's "Cinema Italiano" performance. What energy. What glamour! Truly a scene stealer. Wished both Kate and Nicole appeared longer. The reason why this film flopped was because of Daniel Day-Lewis and the boring Marion Cotillard. And Penelope Cruz was just as sorry as her role called out to be. I was so relieved that the film ended the way it did.
Rob Marshall's screen version of the Broadway musical -- which was
itself based on Fellini's "8 1/2" -- was pretty much dismissed by
critics and audiences alike. Despite that, or maybe because of it, I
found myself pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.
The movie tells the pretty flimsy story of Guido Contini, an Italian filmmaker going through some sort of artistic and personal crisis. The women who have played roles throughout his life appear in dreamlike sequences and sing songs commenting on the action. It's all fairly abstract and cerebral, and there's a monotony inherent to the material that I think would pose a challenge to any filmmaker. Marshall's approach is to borrow heavily from Bob Fosse, and in particular Fosse's "All That Jazz" and its confessional style of storytelling, where the musical numbers frequently reflect the feverish goings on inside the head of the troubled protagonist. Marshall also borrows heavily from himself, which is why the musical numbers in "Nine" look nearly exactly like those in his film version of "Chicago." "Chicago" was a better movie, but mostly because it was based on better source material. Marshall has demonstrated that he's essentially a one-trick pony when it comes to making movies -- or at least to making film musicals (his one foray into non-musical material, "Memoirs of a Geisha," was a gigantic bore). But the talent assembled for "Nine" ensure that it remains fairly engaging throughout, and you never have to wait long between musical numbers, which are the best part of the movie, as is only fitting for any musical (though those written for "Nine" aren't an especially memorable bunch).
Daniel Day-Lewis plays Guido, and though he's not able to bring the right level of swarthy Latino charm that the role requires (one can't really imagine why various women spend time obsessing about him), he's serviceable enough. But the movie belongs to the ladies anyway, and especially to Marion Cotillard, who plays Guido's long-suffering wife and with whom I have now officially fallen in love. Judi Dench is fun as Guido's acerbic costume designer, and Fergie blows the lid off the joint with the only memorable song in the film, "Be Italian." Penelope Cruz plays Guido's mistress as a bundle of messy hair and smeared mascara, while Kate Hudson is instantly forgettable as soon as her little go-go number is over. Rounding out the cast is Sophia Loren as Guido's mother (what is it with Italian men and their mamas?)
Marshall, whose roots are as a stage director and choreographer, doesn't seem to know what to do with musical numbers on screen. He apes Fosse in style, but not in spirit. Where Fosse's choreography was elegant and witty, Marshall's is aggressive and angry. Fosse's direction and editing enhanced the dancing; Marshall's obscures it. All of the numbers (save one lovely song performed by Cotillard) are hard sell, like the performers are all competing on "American Idol." But the film looks stunning, and it does have an energy that keeps it moving. I doubt very much you'll be blown away by it, but if the only thing keeping you from it is its reception upon release, you might want to give it a chance.
Yawn. It really didn't go anywhere or do anything. You're left
wondering gee, what the hell was the point of this?
Great casting I'll admit. However even these actors could not salvage this stilted self-indulgent storyline. Characters either utterly lacked dimension or it was so forced as to render them caricatures. Really, what could any actor do with that?
The soundtrack is very predictable. It does its job to recall a bygone era, which at times may make one wistful. To be sure there were standout performances, yet there were no actual standout numbers. All were typical of the most mediocre songs in the American musical genre. Overall not a great sound.
Thank goodness it looks great -- sets, cinematography, choreography & stellar costumes -- because the story and music sure can't hold interest.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I must confess that I went to the cinema without having a clue about the movie, I had only three names: Nine, Lewis and Kidman. So I was nicely surprised when I realized that I had seen it before under another form, being the title "Nine" the logical one. I enjoyed seeing the movie from a "virgin" point of view, and the playful approach of the director, honoring the original but still creating a movie with a different spirit. The sad part is that none of the main characters "designed" as satellites of the main character are fully working as counterparts for the main one....Daniel Day Lewis is not on one of his "out from the guts" plays. So 6 for the movie.
I really, for the life of me, cannot understand why all the mediocre reviews!? I thought the movie was amazingly entertaining, smartly written, and the dance and music scenes were goose bump inducing! Daniel Day-Lewis was superb at portraying the lost, innocently selfish, almost boy like character who is trying to con everyone around him while all along trying his best not to look at himself to deeply in a mirror. Kate Hudson, Sofia Loren, Nicole Kidman, Fergie, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Judi Dench ALL played integral women in his life and the way Rob Marshall integrated them into the story line, I thought, was ingenious! Did I mention each and everyone's amazing performance?! This musical will certainly be a part of my collection of all time favorite musicals/movies!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Freely adapted from the Federico Fellini film 8-1/2, the stage musical Nine has both its high notes and low notes, but it is definitely a show created for the strengths of the stage. Adapting such a musical back the screen is a daunting task, so it comes as a bit of a surprise that Rob Marshall meets with as much success as he does and manages to make so much of Nine cinematic. Nine focuses on the life and particularly the borderline mental breakdown of acclaimed Italian filmmaker Guido Contini, loosely modeled on Fellini himself, who finds all of the threads of his life spinning apart while trying to come up with a story for his current film which has a cast and crew, but alas no screenplay. The stage musical has its strengths yet never gels into a completely satisfying whole and the film shares some of those limitations as well. Contini is a difficult character to sympathize with and the viewer ultimately finds one drawn more toward the numerous women that populate his life. This is also true of the film. The dialog portions of the play are not especially well-conceived, so it is a pleasant surprise at how well done the dialog passages of the film are presented. Daniel Day-Lewis would seem an unlikely choice to play Contini (a part which really only found its best incarnation in Antonio Banderas in the most recent revival), but he affects a convincing accent, sings capably and is able to present Guido's egocentric nature and clueless disdain for others' feelings while maintaining a little boy innocence. A rather tricky tightrope to walk for any actor. Yet the film really belongs to the women. Sophia Loren is luminous in flashbacks as Guido's archetypal mother and handles the lullaby-like Guarda La Luna well. Nicole Kidman makes an amusing glorified-cameo as his favorite leading lady and Kate Hudson rocks her brief appearance with the energetic number Cinema Italiano. Judi Dench is also a delight as the costume designer/confidante, although her Follies Bergere is well-sung by the actress, it never realizes its full potential. Stacy Ferguson gets the best number in the film with Be Italian and bats it out of the park. The best performances come courtesy of Penelope Cruz and Marion Cotillard, as respectively Guido's mistress and wife. Cruz limns a touching portrait of a fragile woman who knows she is being used but cannot help herself. Cotillard has an amazing singing voice and unlike her co-stars gets two numbers, both of which she excels at. She is able to capture the love, disappointment and wrenching despair of a woman who is never really sure whether her husband values her or not. Despite Marshall's best efforts the film is uneven and never as deep as it tends to think it is, but those are also charges that can be levied at its acclaimed sources, which renders so much of the nitpicky critical reaction on the nonsensical side. With a top notch cast, competent director and some truly well-done musical numbers, one can think of far worse ways to spend an evening than in the company of Nine.
This movie is very disappointing. The casting is terrible. Daniel Day
Lewis is too British - completely uncontinental let alone Italian. His
accent and mannerisms are so weak. Antonio Banderas did it on Broadway.
Judi Dench is like an English school marm ad looks like she could never have been pretty. She gets way too many roles. Nicole Kidman's plastic surgery is distracting. At least Kate Hudson isn't playing a European! Cruz and Cotillard are OK at least they have a European accent and vibe. Fergie is a bit vulgar looking.
They haven't caught the Italian bold but not vulgar aspect. I have seen the musical on Broadway and this movie version is much worse. The musical wasn't that great but even then somehow the rather simplistic lyrics and unsophisticated melodies seem worse in the movie. An absolute disaster and deserved to flop.
Rob Marshall knows how to direct a musical for the big screen. We
learned that after his vision for "Chicago" earned a the big prize at
the Academy Awards. That set the stakes high for "Nine," the movie
based on a musical based on a movie: "8 1/2" by Federico Fellini. If
that weren't enough, the film assembles one of the most decorated
female ensembles in cinema history: seven women, five who have won
Oscars, one who was nominated and one who has a Grammy. Then there's
Oscar-winning lead male Daniel Day-Lewis. But while the amount of
talent is flooring, the film is not.
"Nine" possesses fantastic production values. As mentioned, Marshall knows what he's doing as far as using a variety of angles, editing them nicely and creating mood from lighting and color. Each musical number takes place on the studio set where famed Italian director Guido Contini (Day-Lewis) is expected to shoot his next film, even though he has no idea what it's about and hasn't written a word of it. As he searches his head and personal relationships for inspiration, they manifest themselves on stage in some form or another. At least that's how "Nine" is supposed to work: it doesn't always.
When Contini takes a call from his mistress Carla, played with fantastic dramatic range by Penelope Cruz, he imagines her provocative dance as she whispers similar words to him over the phone. That's the seamless blend that Marshall's known for conducting. Other numbers are random interruptions punctuated by unmemorable songs. It would be one thing if each number came from Contini's imagination and helped us sympathize with his character, to whom we feel pretty indifferent, but not all do. Some, such as the emotional songs sung by Marion Cotillard as Luisa, Guido's estranged wife, are strong ("Take It All," which was written for the movie directly, is one of the few memorables), but they come from Luisa's mind, not his. Much deserved praise has been given to Cotillard for her role, but the credit goes to the writing for skimping out on its lead and making her character easier to sympathize with.
Day-Lewis is not bad or unlikable and we certainly understand his character's torment despite its abstract nature, but this understanding is more explicit than implicit. Day-Lewis is an actor of numerous strengths, but expressing complex emotion while singing is not one of them. Missing these opportunities to drum up audience support hurts his character despite the solid character portrait he creates.
The are few other highlights revolving around the other phenomenal talents in the film. Judi Dench performs well as Guido's costume designer and psychiatrist of sorts, even holding her own in her musical number. Nicole Kidman and Kate Hudson are peripheral to most intriguing parts of the story and hence feel like a waste despite how their characters are intended to influence Guido's character. Hudson singing "Cinema Italiano," the other number written for the film stands out like a sore thumb. It would make a great Madonna video, but that's it. The timeless Sophia Loren is also pointless as Guido's deceased mother because, well, he ought to have some unresolved mommy issues to explain his problems.
Other than Cotillard's numbers, the best of the film is by far Fergie singing "Be Italian" as Saraghina, the prostitute whom Guido and his friends at a young age would pay to dance for them -- Guido's first sexual memory. The song is catchy and the way the sand from the beach in the memory makes its way onto the stage for the "production number" is highly original. That said, I'm not sure the lyrics had anything to do with anything.
"Nine" is all visual production and talent; the story and the way it works with the musical numbers and the way those numbers work with the characters is shoddy more times than not, which was what made "Chicago" such a successful adaptation. Perhaps with a few less songs or none at all, "Nine" would have been impressive on talent alone, but that would not have been Marshall's forte. As such, we have numerous appreciable elements in what amounts to an okay film.
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Director Guido Contini (Day-Lewis) is struggling with his new film and
tries to seek help from all the women in his life.
From Chicago director Rob Marshall comes another star tinted feisty musical that delivers another story of female influence on deluded males that is character strong if lacking the necessary powerful structure, which is a big shame as we could have seen musical of the decade.
Opening with the multi talented Daniel Day-Lewis contemplating his next big move and being kissed by Nicole Kidman we dive into his world of trying to live up to expectations as one of Italy's most famous directors. The There Will Be Blood man is once more a showcase for male power and charisma that has been somewhat lost in musicals given the weak John C Reilly character in Chicago and the madmen in Sweeney Todd but the Londoner restores that faithful archetype of power and mental strength that will have male viewers wishing they were in his position, especially when they see the women in his life.
Penelope Cruz is a stand out as the wonderfully seductive mistress whilst Guido's wife Marion Cotillard nails the vulnerable and insecurity of a woman wishing for more from her husband. Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Stacy Ferguson supply some necessary moments of knowledge to supply the Guido character with his current state of trouble with his script and the expectancy for himself as director.
Though seeing this on a day of great happiness for me I was captivated by the charming array of songs and displays of acting but any hard nosed critic will tell you this is lacking in something that other musicals have, and that is structure. And sadly they are true.
For one we open with Daniel and Nicole having a smooch then we don't see her really until one of the final acts. Then there is a black and white press conference then the same press conference in colour a few scenes later. We have flashbacks of prostitutes and his mother. Then he's singing and so forth. The structure of this film really has been muddled and though it doesn't hinder too much on the feel good factor it is certainly uncomfortable in one place for too long.
The film's other major drawback is the lack of memorable numbers. Though there is no question of the actor's talents to nail the songs, it is the songs that cease to generate the possible outcome we could have had. Ferguson nails "Italia" and Kate Hudson has a catchy number walking down the catwalk whilst Cotillard has a fine number come the end but other songs fade and with the bumpy structure and meaning of the songs it is no wonder.
The big however is that this is ultimately a feel good film that is zipping with possible Oscar nominations and is certainly worth catching.
An all star cast was not enough to save this film. Don't waste your money and time. While there were certainly musical numbers in the film, there were none anyone is likely to remember, so don't expect to find any among the American Film Institutes top 100 songs from motion pictures. This film's slow moving plot should have gone the way of the story line and never materialized. I do admit the women in the film looked good and acted their parts well. Sophia Loren looked fabulous even when compared to women half her age and is still a great actress. Frankly this film put me to sleep, and my wife was merciful enough not to wake me. When I did awake after a short nap I found myself wishing I could go back to sleep. My wife asked me after the film ended why I hadn't suggested we leave during the film. My answer was that I couldn't believe that it could be this bad.
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