Famous film director Guido Contini struggles to find harmony in his professional and personal lives, as he engages in dramatic relationships with his wife, his mistress, his muse, his agent, and his mother.
As the American Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.
Turning her back on her wealthy, established family, Diane Arbus falls in love with Lionel Sweeney, an enigmatic mentor who introduces Arbus to the marginalized people who help her become one of the most revered photographers of the twentieth century.
Robert Downey Jr.,
Arrogant, self-centered movie director Guido Contini finds himself struggling to find meaning, purpose, and a script for his latest film endeavor. With only a week left before shooting begins, he desperately searches for answers and inspiration from his wife, his mistress, his muse, and his mother. As his chaotic profession steadily destroys his personal life, Guido must find a balance between creating art and succumbing to its obsessive demands.Written by
The Massie Twins
When Guido drives up to the Cinecitta film studios in his open top Lancia with his producer as passenger, parked outside (to left) is a (quite distinctive) two tone white and blue paint job rear-engined (flat front radiator) car (another Lancia?): as soon as they pull up inside the lot, as they exit the car and walk around the lot, camera pulls back to show an exact same (license plate same /similar) car parked on other side. See more »
Nothing holds together, nothing makes a bit of sense now. Impossible to grasp or understand. How can I go on to watch the whole of my existence end up being nothing that I planned?
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Today, I went to see Rob Marshall's new musical, Nine, obviously based upon the Broadway musical of the same name, that based off Fellini's 8 1/2. It should be mentioned that the movie contains not quite as many songs as the stage performance does, but, each actress in the wonderful cast having one song, and the way the songs are presented, it certainly works.
Daniel Day-Lewis leads the cast, playing Italian filmmaker Guido Contini, who is about fifty, and going through something of a midlife crisis. Lewis brings a lot of panache to the role, belting out his lyrics with such assurance that this part has been well-practiced and a certain amount of passion has been brought into it, playing the character perfectly.
His long-suffering wife Luisa, splendidly re-imagined, not played by Marion Cotillard, is the one gem in the cast that outshines all of its other members. You feel emotion for her character that you don't feel for the others, you can tell that her character has been through a lot, and you're happy to see her come out on top at the end.
Penelope Cruz also adds a lot to the film, playing Contini's mistress, Carla, a role that 30 Rock's Jane Krakowski played on Broadway, Cruz also brings a lot of emotion and sass, often simultaneously, to her role. You really understand Contini's predicament, and sympathize with the character, for not being able to break her heart, or that of his wife. Her musical number brings a lot of excitement, and her enthusiasm, and her roaring Soprano is unlike anything we ever thought we'd see from this actress. I see her winning awards a-many for her performance in this.
Dame Judi Dench, always worthwhile, plays Lilli, Contini's wisecracking costume designer and confidante. Dench brings comic relief, having more scenes than any other of the actresses in the film, but also brings depth, playing a kind of a psychiatrist to the lead character, and also bringing a fantastic voice, for her musical number, which contains many chorus girls in feather boas, you think you're watching The Rockettes or something out of A Chorus Line, but for the song, it certainly works.
Fergie plays Saraghina, a figure from Contini's youth who taught him about love, and how to attract a woman. Fergie only has one scene in the movie, basically. She shows up in the overture, and finale, but, her only big scene is her show-stopping musical number Be Italian, which generated applause in my theatre. It makes me wonder if they used Fergie less, because maybe her acting talents were not up to par. I guess we'll never know, but her singing voice is something we didn't even expect from her, as she belts the lyrics with such undeniable passion and exuberance, you're glad this minor role was played by her.
Nicole Kidman plays Contini's muse, actress Claudia Jensen, who is mentioned in the film's beginning, then disappears until close to the movie's end. I kind of feel like Kidman's obvious musical talent, displayed previously in Moulin Rouge, come off as a bit underused, because she has one of the best singing voice among the cast and she only has one song. That's one of the few things that bugged me about this wonderful movie.
Kate Hudson plays American magazine journalist, Stephanie, who isn't in very much of the movie either, but Kate Hudson's big musical number, Cinema Italiano, written specifically for the movie, is amazing. I hate to use the word "amazing", because I think it's overused and it's lost its affect, but it's the only way to describe this scene, the way that director Rob Marshall cut the number, switching from sequences in black and white, then color, then black and white again, it's a truly unique experience that you really need to see to completely understand. And here's a surprise, Kate Hudson can sing. I thought she was only cut out for mid-level rom-coms, but I'm glad to say I was wrong, she definitely fits in with the musically talented cast of this movie.
Sophia Loren plays Contini's mother, who is tragically underused, but brought in at the right times in the movie. She, again, only has one song, but it feels like enough, for this actress, who's still looking great, at age 75, bringing drama to her role, and she gives more than she needs to, but it's certainly good to see her on screen again.
The direction of the movie is just as much one of the stars of the show. Rob Marshall, having directed Chicago and Memoirs of a Geisha knows a thing or two about grand-scale production musical numbers and high-octane drama, and he brings it all to this film, although some of the songs are cut in a way that feels chaotic and rushed, but I think it doesn't hurt the movie at all. It's a movie built on high caliber acting, beautiful music, and gorgeous imagery, and it's something you have to see for yourself. It's that good.
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