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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

"Be Italian" all you want, just don't waste your time on this film!!

2/10
Author: slavezephyr from United States
28 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After seeing this film, I realized that Rob Marshall only has one style, and it looks like "Chicago". Every musical sequence had me expecting either Zeta-Jones or Zellweger to appear and do a song and dance number with Guido. From the lighting to the choreography, everything screamed "All that Jazz", only without Taye Diggs at the piano. Fergie's number "Be Italian" was eerily similar to "Cell Block Tango" only with sand and tambourines. Hudson's dress in "Cinema Italiano" looked like Zellweger's in "Roxie", a different style, yes, but the same concept. Even her dress in the opening number reminded me of Velma from "All that Jazz". To make my point short, it seemed to run a similar course as "Chicago", as if Marshall has only one style of musical film-making and "Chicago" will forever be that template.

Marshall aside, he is not the only issue with this film. The screenwriters need to bear a lot of the blame as well. Michael Tolkin has written a couple of good films, but none that have thrilled me and yet, I believe that the late Minghella is to blame for the sub par dialogue. The only reason I say this is due to his previous efforts in screen writing which have bored me to tears and made him a Hollywood golden boy. The same dragging dialogue from "The English Patient" is present in "Nine" and I felt myself screaming inside my head the same thing I did for both films "I can't stand any of you, hurry up and die already". At least someone died in "The English Patient" and it was like a wish come true. The same cannot be said for "Nine".

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Intriguing Musical Clash of Dazzling and Introspective Elements Falls Short

6/10
Author: Ed Uyeshima from San Francisco, CA, USA
27 December 2009

While this dark-hued 2009 musical extravaganza offers dazzling star power and the requisite Italiano coolness factor, director Rob Marshall cannot seem to drive the narrative toward an engaging level of momentum. I think his 2002 adaptation of "Chicago" was successful because he regaled in a pulp fiction element that complemented a familiar set of songs. This time, the filmmaker is burdened by an only so-so score and a stubbornly introspective story that refuses to inspire in a too-literate adaptation of the 1982 Broadway musical hit by Michael Tolkin and the late Anthony Minghella. If Marshall heightened the surrealism going on in his narcissistic protagonist's head, it could have worked more effectively, but the musical numbers feel particularly stage-bound for an endeavor ironically dedicated to the joys of cinema.

Following the same structure as its inspiration, Federico Fellini's classic "8 1/2", the story centers on Guido Contini, a Fellini-esquire director revered in mid-1960s Italy. Apparently, he is suffering from an extreme case of creative block with his latest and ninth screen project. There is a press conference to announce the production ambitiously entitled "Italia", even though there is nary a word written and only his muse attached, international screen star Claudia Jenssen. The pressure of making a landmark film takes its toll on Contini who attempts to escape to a luxurious spa resort. Inevitably, the entire production follows him to the hotel, including his devoted costume designer Lilli who knows him better than he knows himself. His sexy, neurotic mistress Carla also shows up, as does his long-suffering wife Luisa. Further complications ensue when Stephanie, an adoring Vogue journalist, expresses her prurient interest in the tortured filmmaker. Fantasy and memory cloud Contini's mind as he flashes back to memories of his mother and Saraghina, a prostitute he recalls dancing erotically on the beach when he was nine.

It's a rare enough treat to see the chameleonic Daniel Day-Lewis on screen, and he plays Contini with the right level of Mastroianni-like wariness. He even sings his two pensive numbers - "Guido's Song" and "I Can't Make This Movie" - more than capably. However, it is the women who really share the spotlight. Looking luminous with a touch of Audrey, Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose") brings depth and poignancy to the standard role of the put-upon wife. She sings two dramatically different numbers, the touching "My Husband Makes Movies" and the passionately naked "Take It All". In a role that complements her persona in a similar manner to what Woody Allen did for her in "Vicki Cristina Barcelona", Penélope Cruz brings sizzling gusto to her solo number, "A Call to the Vatican", all the while exposing her character's spiraling emotional desperation. As shrewdly observant Lilli, Judi Dench provides the film with much-needed grounding and has a good time with the campy burlesque number, "Folies Bergère".

The rest of the cast packs punch but ultimately feels more extraneous. Kate Hudson has little to do as Stephanie except act appropriately saucy and then unexpectedly dazzle with the go-go-salsa-driven "Cinema Italiano". Nicole Kidman looks every inch a screen star as Claudia, but sadly, her sweet rendition of the show's most touching ballad, "Unusual Way", is broken up by snatches of dialogue. It's wonderful to see the still-stunning, 75-year-old Sophia Loren as Contini's mother, but her role is little more than a cameo. Marshall gives the most "Chicago"-like production number to Fergie (of the Black-Eyed Peas) who dominates a chorus of voluptuous beauties on "Be Italian". In fact, there is so much talent on screen, one keeps hoping for a big final production number instead of the fantasy curtain call presented. Regardless, Marshall wisely reassembles the same production team he used on both "Chicago" and "Memoirs of a Geisha" - John Myhre's production design, Dion Beebe's cinematography (a little too heavy on the use of shadows), and Colleen Atwood's costumes are all first-rate. I just wish my expectations could have been exceeded.

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3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

It's not an Oscar snub, Nine just isn't good at all.

Author: Gordon-11 from Earth
23 February 2010

This film is about a womanising film director in Italy, who struggles to make an epic film that the film studio pushes him to start production in ten days.

I thought "Nine" would be phenomenal, given Rob Marhsall's track record and the stellar cast that this project attracted. Unfortunately, "Nine" is just not good at all. Firstly, the story is poor developed and not engaging. As a lot of screen time is devoted to songs, there is little time for character development. Secondly, Guido has no respect for women and lives in a web of deceit. And to think he paid a woman to perform strip dance when he was a kid!? What kind of message is this film trying to send, both to the viewers and to our children? This unsympathetic protagonist is quite enough to put me off.

Musically, the only good song performance was Kate Hudson's. She sings and dances well, with vibrant energy that lifts me up. The other performances, however, are nowhere as good. Most of the performances attempt to expand on the characters' feelings, but are done miserably that distracts attention from the main story. They do not add dimension to the plot or add entertainment value.

To be honest, I was thoroughly bored by "Nine". The Academy did not snub "Nine", it's just that "Nine" isn't good at all.

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5 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Poorly Known

Author: tedg (tedg@filmsfolded.com) from Virginia Beach
8 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I really anticipated this, as I suppose did many. A self-aware film about self-aware films that invented a prevalent notion of women? Some actors who have changed my life? Made by a fellow who blew me out of seat the last time?

It does have a very promising idea. It does have Daniel Day creating a whole human in spite of the script. And if you know Fellini, it has lots of references and a few anti-references to Fellini films (not the flops), and that is mild fun. The camera strains for interesting shots and sometimes succeeds.

Everyone will have their own theory about why this fails. It is easy enough to blame the songs. They are simply tepid. But there was another thing that opened the floor for me when watching this. The thing tries hard to actually be somewhat close to the place Fellini was.

The magic of Fellini's work is not so much that gave us unique visions that informed whatever you think it was. The magic is that he did so by using women as the abstraction technique — the world as modeled via dimensions of women. He is by no means the first to try, but he was the first to do so as an explicit technique starring himself as immersed in the process. And so far as I am concerned, he was the first to truly succeed through purely cinematic means.

All of his womanly qualities are presented visually, not through textually described situation. Costumes matter for him and in a real sense the order was women, image, cinema, self, not self, women, movie as we have here. Fellini's films used "woman" the same way he used light and words. Poses were situations and ordinary situations were dreams and unfinished scenes. The world as seduction. Creating as a matter of seducing seduction.

The casting of the women is pretty disastrous. The key women have already blown their "I- am-an-image" currency so come to us already beyond the control of the filmmaker, even if he understood Fellini. Kate Hudson as seductress? Nicole in the role of powerful bosomdancer? Penelope as helpless?

So. Bad musical. Poor understanding of cinematic womanliness. Some good understanding of the angst of the genius when adrift from his women, but points taken off because that has nothing to do with our filmmakers.

Go back to Greenaway's try at this.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.

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5 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Pure boredom and torture

1/10
Author: greeniz18 from United States
7 January 2010

So I went to write a review for this terrible movie, and came across this other person's review. After reading it, I realized I couldn't have written a better review myself, so instead I've decided to copy and paste their review so as to double the chances of someone reading it.

"Where do I begin? I scoffed at the people leaving the cinema after only 5 minutes. "Uncultured fools", I thought. Only afterwords did I realise that they were the lucky ones: I lost two hours of my life (and maybe more) being exposed to this utter rubbish.

As a musical, the best parts (and I use the term "best" very loosely here) of this film are when the cast aren't screeching out an unmemorable number. Seriously, you won't remember any of it other than the "Guido! Guido! Guido!" ringing in your ears.

Even having Penelope Cruz's scantily-covered crotch thrust into your face didn't improve things. The rest of the "all star" cast doesn't fair much better: Sophia Loren looks like an extra-terrestrial (no doubt from having one face-stretch too many), Daniel Day-Lewis is forgettable and is upstaged by his car (which, seriously, is the only interesting showpiece in the entire film), Nicole Kidman does practically nothing, Judy Dench is in her typical mother-hen role, and Fergie (who is apparently not the ex-member of the British Royal Family but a member of the Black Eyed Peas) I can't remember seeing. Must have slept through her performance, but presumably it must have been better than the rest since it didn't wake me up with its sheer awfulness.

How this film garnered no less than 5 Golden Globe nominations is a complete mystery. Even the cast members interviewed on Larry King looked bewildered - they must have been as surprised as I would have been if I had seen this mess."

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5 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Quite Good, Actually

8/10
Author: rich-228 from Houston, TX
25 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm a die-hard musicals fan, and I really liked this film. If you are not, it may not be the film for you. I had read some of the disastrous reviews of Nine before seeing it. (I wonder whether to even read the NY Times or New Yorker anymore; their reviewers seem to love to pick films to pieces.) Being a big fan of several of the actors in this film, though, I went anyway, out of curiosity. I'm really glad I did.

The film certainly has its flaws. It's a difficult musical to stage, and translating it to film couldn't have been easy. It drags in places, and you do get a bit tired of hearing about the protagonist's (Guido's) problems. But, there are some wonderful performances in this, really not to be missed.

Daniel Day-Lewis does a fine job, and sings quite well. Marion Cotillard is sensational. I've not seen any of her films, but now I certainly will. Judi Dench does her usual excellent job, and her musical number can't have been easy. Stacy Ferguson is a very pleasant surprise. Both Nicole Kidman and Sophia Loren add some star power, though neither has a very big role. Kate Hudson does a good job as well.

Movie musicals are still pretty rare these days. It's nice to see Rob Marshall is still working in this medium. I hope he makes another.

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5 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Ghost of Rob Marshall Past

7/10
Author: Kenneth Anderson (efitness2@yahoo.com) from Los Angeles
19 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have to agree with the person who wrote that he wanted to like "Nine" more than he did. Unlike some, I fell in love with the Broadway show "Nine" back in the 80's and have seen it staged many times. I love the music and, as I grow older, the themes of midlife crisis and artistic stasis become more poignant. All the more disheartening then that, as accomplished a film as it is, Rob Marshall's "Nine" falls short in delivering on the promise of its insanely talented cast.

Historically, those of us who love movie musicals usually have had to to put up with weak actors to get good singing and dancing (Cyd Charisse, Ann Miller) or dubbed voices and stiff dancing to get good acting ( Liv Ullman, Natalie Wood). With "Nine" Marshall has assembled a dream cast of marvelous actors who all meet their musical challenges with impressive and sometimes breathtaking results.

So why is the result so lacking? One, if Marshall's "Chicago" didn't exist, "Nine" would play a lot better. Too often what was dazzlingly original in "Chicago" becomes merely "nice" in "Nine." Fergie's number recalls the "Cell Block Tango," the inner-monologue that explodes into musical fantasy device that worked so well in "Chicago" is used in exactly the same way here. Daniel Day-Lewis has a anguished solo that'll remind you of Richard Gere's solo in "Chicago". Likewise, Judi Dench's feather-festooned "Folies Bergere" number will have you thinking of "Chicago"s "Razzle Dazzle." Also, the score has been streamlined in a very unusual way (smirk, smirk)…songs that would have provided more insight into the source of Daniel Day-Lewis's problems and given his wounded-eyed wife (Marion Cotillard) a terrific tell-off scene have been excised completely or replaced with ones that say very little and take up a lot of time.

It makes sense to me that when you have musical performers of limited acting range (like Fred Astaire), you let the dancing and singing carry some of the emotional weight. But when you have the kind of actors we have in "Nine" you have the opportunity to make a film that satisfies dramatically yet soars to new heights when music is introduced. Marshall seems content to give us pretty images and music-video set pieces. Not bad in and of itself, but why hire heavy hitters like Penelope Cruz and Sophia Loren when you just need them to punt?

And has Rob Marshall made so many films that he can afford to repeat himself so soon? Has he run out of ideas? The story, cast and songs are too good to be given the rehash treatment. I wish that Marshall could have devised a fresher approach because he is well served by everyone involved. Marion Cotillard and Penelope Cruz do wonderful things with their roles and are never less than captivating. And who would have thought Daniel Day-Lewis such a graceful singer? Complaint: I wish there were more Sophia Loren and Judi Dench.

Since I never really thought that anyone would ever make a film of "Nine," part of me is very grateful that someone has made such a gorgeous movie with such a dazzling cast. The other part of me just wishes that it lived up to the expectations of its trailer.

Lastly and on a slightly different note, Nicole Kidman used to be one of my favorite modern actresses. Stunningly beautiful and an astonishingly resourceful actress. Now her face doesn't even move. Please Hollywood actors and actresses, we know the pressure is on to always look youthful, but what good is an actor without a face capable of expressing emotions?

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6 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

eight and a bit

8/10
Author: timshelboy from United Kingdom
22 December 2009

NINE (2009) Directed by Rob Marshall. With Daniel Day Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Fergie, Sophia Loren, Ricky Tognazzi.

Well I liked it a lot and had a good time. Whilst I wouldn't say it was a great movie musical, its a very good one in parts, and certainly not deserving of the worst of its reviews (a VERY mixed bag of notices indeed).

Guido Contini (DDL) is the Felliniesque genius writer director in crisis - he has lost his creative mojo and is dissipating what energies he has left juggling a wife, a mistress, a muse, and a randy journalist, and fantasising/remembering aspects of his past. It sticks pretty close to the source material in the basic "plot".

The major weakness is that, with one significant exception, I didn't think the songs were that good - although they are, for the most part, well sung, staged and choreographed - and Hudson's (journo)Cinema Italiano number is great fun. Cotillard (wife) & Kidman (muse) get more introspective numbers. Kidman seems to be more Ekberg than Cardinale - and her number is staged round a fountain... anyone know was it the Trevi Fountain? Cruz (mistress)is sexier than ever before in her turn - indeed if she hadnt got a gong last year i'd expect to see her heading this years best supporting actress derby. And it should be said now that if any of you have an aversion to lingerie, then avoid this film. I suspect it holds the record for featuring the greatest number of Oscar winners in expensive lacy basques. DDL is in good voice and is a very convincing lead, which only makes one regret the fact that his two numbers were probably the weakest in the film. And it needs a big number to finish on that we didn't get.

The real knockout is the "Be Italian" number with Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie as Saraghina, the prostitute Guido visits as a child. This number is infectious and totally sizzles: i'm already filing it up there with the best of the dance numbers in anything in the Fosse canon, or in West Side Story.

The art direction, costumes etc - are all deliciously retro (it is set in 1965), and if Marshall seems to have opted for the same A.D.D approach to editing as he did in CHICAGO all in all its a good night out. Rating ??? - eight and a bit out of ten

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18 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

The visuals and Day-Lewis make up for an otherwise disappointing musical effort

7/10
Author: DonFishies from Canada
17 December 2009

Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a famous Italian director who scored big with his older films, but his last two films were flops. As he gets set to work on his latest film, he stumbles headfirst into writer's block. As he attempts to come up with ideas, his professional and personal lives begin to fall apart, and all he can do is muse about all the women in his life that he has loved.

While I swear up and down that I dislike musicals, I do find enough material to usually entertain myself throughout any number of them (and surprisingly greatly enjoy more than a few as well). Nine sounded like a surefire success on paper, and in the trailers. With its jam packed Oscar winning cast, Oscar winning crew, and the source material of one of the most respected films ever made, there really was no room for error. I really wanted to love Nine, but rather unfortunately, the film itself leaves a lot to be desired.

The film is quite simply, not a strong enough picture to maintain anyone from start to finish. It is a lavish musical, but it is far too grounded in its ideas and spectacles to really make something of itself. It frequently drags its heels through scenes of dialogue, and then blasts through its songs in such a short span that you may blink and miss them. To stretch some of them out, scenes of extended dialogue are interspersed in between verses, leading to a jarring effect that takes you out of some of the songs. While animated Disney musicals are known to have dialogue filled interludes between and during songs, somehow they manage to not feel awkward when transitioning between them. In Nine, it passes the awkward stage and just feels uncomfortable and silly when it is done. Every song does not feel this way, but the majority of them do.

Worse yet, the story at the heart of the entire picture, Guido's midlife existential crisis, just lacks any hook to really bring the audience into his world. We know he is having problems with his wife Luisa (Marion Cotillard). We know he has a mistress in Carla (Penélope Cruz) that likes him a whole lot more than he does her. We know he keeps having visions of his long dead mother (Sophia Loren). And the list just keeps going on from there. The film just keeps taking us around the bend of all of these women, and how Guido sees them in the grand scheme of his life, but it never stops to answer why he is having the crisis in the first place. It just jumps around aimlessly, hoping for everyone else to care about this sad shell of former greatness more than the people around him do. Its near ludicrous jumps in focus tend to drag the film out further than it needs to go, and any interesting moments are usually spared for jumping to the next idea.

The jumps in focus are only half the problem however. The gorgeously talented female cast that makes up the majority of Nine are given so little to do that it is no wonder there is no time to learn why each woman is contributing to Guido's crisis. Each character is given a major song and dance number each, has a few lines of dialogue either before or after, and then are swiftly removed from the rest of the film. Nicole Kidman practically appears and disappears in less than ten minutes (her dreadful attempt at an Italian accent is dropped even faster), Kate Hudson barely registers on the radar and Fergie barely appears at all (despite having the strongest song in the film in "Be Italian"). I understand this is likely an issue with the source material (a 1982 Broadway musical based off Federico Fellini's 8½), but it could have easily been resolved with more attention being placed on details, or simply cutting a few characters out. Cotillard and Cruz do have a lot of emphasis placed on them, but the rest could easily be chopped down or simply taken right out for how much the filmmakers seem to care about them.

But for its issues, I was wowed by the sheer design of the film. The choreography is simply out of this world from beginning to end, and the set designs and cinematography are top notch. This is a very stylish musical above anything else, and it shows in how everything looks (even if the majority of scenes are filmed on or around one sound stage). The stress and symbolism placed on sex is the most pronounced ideal in the film, and as such, are the best moments in the film. Fergie's "Be Italian" is wonderfully realized on screen, and Cruz's "A Call from the Vatican" is one of the sexiest scenes ever captured on celluloid. Its The editing also gets a lot of praise here, as the film packs on inventive camera angles and beautifully captured scenes that seem to be amassed in colours in one scene, and then look very washed out or in black and white in others. It makes for a very interesting experience visually; one that leads the viewer to believe they are watching a much better realized film than they actually are.

But in the end, this is Day-Lewis' film, and he knocks another one out of the park. Though he is not as strong as he was in There Will Be Blood or Gangs of New York, his excellent performance here overshadows everyone in the cast. His Italian accent is impeccable, and his singing voice is even better. I doubted he could pull the role off, but it is one of the only reasons to catch Nine. It is a weak film, with enough shining areas to make it watchable. But it could and should have been great.

7/10.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

terrible

1/10
Author: funkie_sparkels from Brisbane, Australia
2 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm only writing this review to warn people against wasting their time seeing this miserable excuse for a musical. You have a so-called "brilliant" Italian director (who obviously isn't even really Italian) and I for one didn't understand what made him so brilliant. To me, he just looked like a washed-up old has been, and THIS guy has all these beautiful women groveling at his feet? Huh??? So, anyway, he's trying to make a new movie, but failing (haha life imitating art, because the movie itself fails). The songs are terrible, it's as if someone played a game called "let's see how many times we can get the word 'Guido' into a song". So basically you get to watch a character you don't even like or care about fall apart, resulting in quite possibly the worst musical I've ever seen. Not even Judi Dench could save this one. Give it a miss. BORING

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