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This time he has chosen Nine, a re-imagining of Federico Fellini's classic film 8 1/2. Already I am skeptical of the situation. I am fine with musicals. Some of the best films on celluloid have been musicals. What I have a problem with is the reworking of such a classic film like 8 1/2. It would take a lot of convincing to win me over. Unfortunately, it did not succeed.
Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Guido Contini, an Italian director who is planning on making the most important Italian film ever call Italia. The only problem is he hasn't written a script yet. To guide him he turns to the women in his life. His late mother (Sofia Loren), his wife Marion Cotillard, his mistress (Penelope Cruz), his costume designer and closest friend (Judi Dench), a fashion reporter (Kate Hudson), a childhood temptress Saraghina (Stacey "Fergie" Ferguson) and his leading lady (Nicole Kidman).
Contini tries to escape the pressure looming overhead by the media, his producers, and his cast and crew. He is constantly searching for the answer, bouncing around from one person to another. That's really all there is. He talks to people, sleeps around, and goes into his past.
Right off the bat there is a slight problem. There are too many women! Not just for Contini but for the audience. There are too many big name actresses with almost equal parts. Who is more important? Who should we side with? It seems like he has such a close relationship with some of them and hardly any with others, yet they all practically get the same amount of screen time. They all have at least one song to their own.
That is another problem with the film. The musical aspect is distracting from the story. The music for the most part is average. A few songs like "Be Italian" and the Oscar nominated "Take it All" are very good, but for the most part, it's all bells and whistles. Like he did with Chicago, Marshall takes us from the real world of dialogue to the imaginary world of singing and dancing. My issue with this is that he spends an almost equal amount of time in both places. With Chicago, there was more story divulged in the real world. Nine has too much singing and not enough story telling.
The musical numbers are impressive, in particular the two songs I mentioned. Fergie really flexes the golden pipes with "Be Italian," a fun and sexy number that for me was the highlight of the film. Cotillard's number was also one of the better ones. This was a more emotional struggle and was one of the few numbers I felt really connected with the story. Kidman and Cruz each have decent numbers, and Dench's number is a bit over the top. She is better with the real world scenes.
I guess Marshall tried to replicate what he did with Chicago but came up short. I never was invested with any of the characters and Lewis' performance was not quite what I was looking for. I would have loved to have seen Raul Julia, the original Guido Contini from the first Broadway production, or even Antonio Banderas in the revival. I think someone with a more musical background would have been a more acceptable choice, but nevertheless, Lewis does a fairly decent job.
Nine is an ambitious film, I'll give it that. Rob Marshall, the director of the Best Picture winner Chicago serves up a mix bag with Nine. The film feels like Marshall is trying to rekindle the magic he had with Chicago, he comes up short, specifically with the musical numbers. For everything that I liked about it, there were two things I didn't. Nine needs to be more focused and shorter for it to be a film I would recommend.
The film is about film-making, yet the way Marshall presents the film to us is in the style of a stage play. Everything from the set-pieces to lighting screams stage play. It was an interesting touch, but felt out of place because it dealt with the art of film-making so much. The musical numbers, all uninspiring and rather boring, even attest to this. With the exception of Fergie, who gives us the best song and dance number that uses sand in a creative way, all the other numbers are generic and rather 'not good'. When you have a Grammy winner singing a song and then have Kate Hudson sing one, there is a difference, and it is more noticeable than the filmmakers might have wanted.
Nine has a great cast, most of them are Oscar winners too. Daniel Day Lewis, with an amazing Italian accent, is the obvious stand out. He plays sexy and stressed all in one look. Penelope Cruz is the mistress, who has the sexiest scene of this movie, her career and this year. Her work in this film is pretty basic, the other lover who wants to be the one loved. With the exception of DDL, the only other actor that is given any kind of emotional depth is Marion Cotillard. She has to go through the realization that her husband is cheating on her and make the choice to stay or leave. Everyone else is pretty much there to fill up time and sing their one song. Judie Dench is the fashion designer and she plays a motherly figure, whereas Sophia Loren plays his actual mother, well his dead mother, but he still sees and talks to her. Fergie has her one scene in which she steals the show with her tune and then Nicole Kidman turns up at the end and makes you wince with her accent. Don't get me started on Kate Hudson.
The problem is that these are good actors, with just no material to work with. Daniel Day Lewis is great, but he's a hard character to connect with, he's sleeping around with a lot of women, it feels like half the cast. Emotional scenes don't play out as well as they should and the film drags itself to the finish line near the end. I found myself wanting it to end sooner and sooner, but it kept going.
On the plus side, the choreography is great and the cinematography really grabs you, even if it is a little misplace with it's stage feel. The film is well put together and the editing is well done. It weaves it's story in and out of timelines from Guido's life, during the musical numbers. The film isn't bad, but it didn't do anything for me either. Leaving a musical not tapping your toes or even remembering the tunes may be a bad sign. I liked it enough to give it a good rating, the cast and style are good enough for me to do so, but everything else makes me lean on the side of telling you to rent this. It's well made, but has no real heart and the film is a little on the long side, you may be checking your watch.
Performances: Let me first say that no actress delivered any less than they possibly could, and you could tell that the cast had worked their butts off during production.
The Great- Marion Cotillard in particular delivered what is sure to be one of the most understated performances in recent memory, as well as delivering the two most powerful and emotional numbers in the show. Penelope Cruz was SEXY, and as her character's story was wrapped up she beautifully portrayed a "mistreated mistress," so to speak. Judi Dench was fantastic as the background player in Guido's career, perfectly delivering wit while supporting her friend. Most importantly, these three worked so well because they were interlinked in each other's story, and as a result their plot lines flowed well into each other.
The OK- DDL and Sophia Loren were fine in their parts, simply filling out their roles and not seriously improving on or dragging down the movie in any way.
The Misused- Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, and Fergie were all criminally misused, although fantastic when on the screen. All three had stories that didn't synch with the movie, whether they be Kidman (who honestly needed a more fleshed out role that came in contact w/ other characters other than just Guido), Hudson (whose number really felt like it would have made more sense in the beginning of the movie), or Fergie ("Be Italian" felt shoehorned in and disconnected, and would have been a perfect opener or closing number). All three felt particularly disconnected from the film.
I can honestly say that not one of the players in Marshall's cast disappointed, but it was Marshall himself and the messy script (irony!) that jumbled up the movie and left me with a very disjointed, disconnected result. Each scene was Oscar-worthy, but they were only partially threaded together into a cohesive story.
The movie focuses on Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) as a famous movie director in Italy in 1965. He is having troubles developing his next movie. More so, he hasn't written a script. Even more so, he is having trouble even coming up with an idea for his movie. He had successful movies in the years past but now we are watching him struggle after a few major flops.
In his journey to make his next movie, he is having marital problems along with mistress problems. Add in Freudian issues with his deceased mother and his working relationship with his costume designer and his muse. Don't forget to include yet another potential affair outside of the one he is having with his mistress, plus there's the memory of an erotic lady on a beach from his youth (that's seven women total for those of you who are keeping score at home).
You know what is going to make this movie stand out from the crowd? It is the realistic singing by the actors. They are actors first and singers second (except for maybe Fergie who plays the erotic lady from Guido's youth but she didn't say much in the film, come to think of it I think she only sang). Since I don't know much about musicals and even less about how to sing properly, I could grasp the singing. The tunes they sang aren't the kind you are going to be singing on the way home because a lot of the songs were simply narrated lines being sung. When a character wanted to express his or her thoughts, they would sing their lines. Maybe that's what they do in all musicals — like I said my experience here is limited.
The women. Oh, the women. They all performed wonderfully, and I don't just mean the singing. The female cast includes his wife (Marion Cotillard), his mistress (Penelope Cruz), his costume designer (Judi Dench), the woman from his childhood (Fergie), an American fashion designer (Kate Hudson), his muse (Nicole Kidman) and his mother (Sophia Loren). They brought emotion and life to the story through their singing and their lustful yet sensual moves. I would also like to note, as a guy, the women were the reason why I kept my attention focused for almost 2 hours. I don't even watch a football game this intensely.
Should you see this movie? Yes. But, don't go in expecting a musical you can sing along with or a movie that will leave you feeling giddy with love. It dealt with some very real issues about infidelity. I will say this, though, after seeing this movie I do know a little more about musicals. And, that's a good thing.
Because i felt this way about it i was shocked to hear that such a large majority of critic's thought it was so mediocre and I became hesitant to see it in fear of disappointment.
Well, I did see it and let me tell you, there was nothing mediocre about it. It was a phenomenal movie. The dances and songs were beautiful, creative and very well performed. The storyline was very fresh and it kept the viewer interested in what Guido would do next because he was such a dynamic character. The women in his life were perfectly cast and fantastically played, especially Marion Cotillard, whom I had never heard of before this movie; it's fair to say she totally rocked her role instilling in me emotions that I never even knew I had. Penelope was ridiculously sexy yet still made the viewer empathize with her character. Nicole Kidman was great as the self-confident and inspiring muse. Daniel Day-Lewis was very believable in his role as the immature child trapped inside the older man's body named Guido, as his life spins out of control as reality finally begins to catch up with him.
The main problem that critics had with this movie was that it wasn't like Fredrico Fellini's 8 1/2 on which nine was based but they shouldn't be comparing the two. This is a whole new movie and should be viewed for what it is and to me Nine is the most entertaining movie of the year and I am looking forward to seeing it again.
Having said all that, I honestly don't know who is the audience for this film. "Nine" was hardly the Broadway smash that "Dreamgirls", or "Chicago" was, and the score is entirely obscure. Additionally, do most people really care about the trials and tribulations of a self-involved, duplicitous 1960's-era Italian filmmaker? Does it matter? Do you have to actually like the protagonist to learn something from his experiences? Box-office-wise, this picture is going to live or die on the reviews, and people's interest in seeing these actresses shine. (I read here that Renee Zellwegger was under consideration for a role in this film... What a disaster that would have been!) And, of course, those who like seeing Daniel Day Lewis stretch new muscles (he chain smokes! He sings!) I enjoyed it very, very much... and now I'm very curious to see what the world thinks of it.
How clever and ironic that the film itself mirrors this!
In order to find inspiration, he looks to the women in his life, while they spring into song wearing basques and corsets.
All the songs sound the same.
I'm sticking my neck out here. I'll be chastised for criticising such a successful Broadway musical, with such a great cast. Don't get me wrong - the 1 star for this film is solely for Day Lewis - the man can act.
It looks fairly nice as well It doesn't stop this film being pointless, pretentious, nauseous drivel.
I can't remember any of the songs from the film, because they are completely dull, lifeless, pointless songs.
1/10 - AVOID. (Even though you'll all disagree with me - I stand by my opinion!)
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.
It's rare that I feel the need to write a review. However, in this case I think I need to do so if only to save people from spending their money to watch this tripe. It certainly goes on my list of all-time worst movies that I've ever seen, along with Speed 2, and The Blair Witch Project. Rob Marshall has a lot to answer to for this crime against cinema - and for that matter, humanity.
Guido Contini is a filmmaker facing an existential crisis of sorts as the deadline for shooting his next film is approaching and he hasn't even written a script, as he's constantly distracted/battling with the women in his life - past, present, and possibly future. No, it's not a complex plot, but some of the best movies have simple plots - look at Best Picture "No Country for Old Men": A guy finds a bag of money and gets chased by a psycho for a couple of hours. Simple plot, GREAT movie. Same goes for "Nine." What makes movies with simple plots work are the characters, themes, and performances. "Nine" has those in spades. Daniel Day-Lewis shines yet again as this man with an insatiable appetite for life, love, everything - yet no matter how much of it he devours, he remains empty. He wonders if he's capable of real love, or even if he knows what it means. Of course Day-Lewis excels at conveying these internal struggles, but the most pleasant surprise here is that he can SING them as well.
Marion Cotillard may be the shining star of the film, as Guido's long-suffering wife. The best part of her performance is that she doesn't play it as a victim - she seems to be the one in command during all of her scenes with Day-Lewis. Guido needs her, and she knows it. And when Guido's transgressions (which you can tell deep down, she's known about for years) become apparent, she seems just as angry with herself for allowing them as she is with him. It's a masterful performance, as are her two musical numbers in the film. The first song she sings conveys the sadness she refuses to show in public, and the second is the polar opposite: a raw, angry, cathartic release from a woman who refuses to be a doormat. It will be a crime if she's not recognized come Oscar time for this performance.
Aside from Day-Lewis and Cotillard, Penelope Cruz is the other stand-out of the film. As Contini's mistress, she's very funny in her early scenes, but when you start to see how much she loves Guido and wishes they could have their own life together, she plays the heartbreak just as perfectly as the comedy. And yes, her musical number is quite the show-stopper.
The film also features solid supporting performances from Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, and even Fergie. Though if I had to pick a weak link, surprisingly, it would be Kidman. She's not bad by any means, but she was using some kind of unidentifiable and inconsistent accent that I found a bit distracting, which is a shame because I usually enjoy her work. She just seemed miscast here.
Finally, the film looks great. Rob Marshall, while using the same "imaginary musical sequences" technique he did on "Chicago," seems to have really found the perfect way to use that technique in this film. Since the story it's based on was really about what goes on inside the director's head, that style seems better suited for this story than it did "Chicago" (though I did enjoy that film as well). And his work with cinematographer Dion Beebe has created some beautiful and classic imagery that celebrates the movies and why we love 'em. It certainly made me want to hop on the next flight to Rome.
Overall, I found "Nine" to be fantastic-yet-slightly-flawed musical masterpiece. I honestly don't know how anyone could give this movie 1 star.
From My Fair Lady to West Side Story or even A Little Night Music, many great musicals are based not on an original idea but on famous classics stories, books or films. Nothing wrong with that when the musical version adds a new layer, a twist to the vision of the original and the music brings a new vocabulary to tell the story.
The film of Nine doesn't feel so much as inspired on 8 1/2 but a real misappropriation of someone else's personal ideas. Whilst the change from screen to stage might have been challenging and innovative, the fact that we are now back to the same medium than the original makes more obvious the inadequacies of the concept as well as the poor talent of the Rob Marshall and his MTV School of film direction style. The use of memorable imagery in black and white in a scene such as the Saragena and the boys on the beach seems not a homage to the genius of Fellini but simply a blatant robbery that should have been protected by copyrights or at least by Marshall's self censorship.
The misconception was there from the start. The film as a musical simply does not work in any way. The music itself seems extremely banal and you know you are in shaky territory when you can tell exactly the next musical phrase or words in a song. Further more the introduction of the songs, the sudden jump from action to singing feels totally forced.
How on earth a talented a actor such as Daniel Day Lewis could ever have got involved in this mess of styles and accent with dubious content escape me. Did he really think he could pass as a reincarnation of Mastroianni or even as an Italian? It might sound odd but in the film not even Sofia Loren sounds convincing as an Italian!
Interesting that at the core of the original 81/2,there is actually the conflict of the creative process and the fear of not being able to say anything new or of value. What's could then be a better idea that cannibalizing Fellini's masterpiece and bringing its level to a lower common denominator in order to try to capture the interest of today's general audiences.
I left the movies feeling like an idiot. This movie is an offense.
My only criticism of Nine is that it has a very loose plot. The small plot that is present is still quite good. It follows Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis), an aging director who has reached a breaking point in his life when he realizes everything is spiraling out of control. His movies have turned bad over the last few years and he is hopelessly in love with nine women who very important to him. The female cast includes his wife (Marion Cotillard), his mistress (Penelope Cruz), his costume designer (Judi Dench), a prostitute from his childhood (Fergie), an American fashion designer (Kate Hudson), his muse (Nicole Kidman), and his mother (Sophia Loren). The film also marks one of Anthony Minghella's last screenplays.
Though the cast is mostly responsible for why the movie is so great, it's also Rob Marshall's direction. Anyone who has seen Chicago will know that his type of movie involves sexy women writhing and twisting as the dance (and not in a bad way). Nine is quite similar, but Nine made me feel as though I was actually sitting in a Broadway theater watching a Broadway musical. Anthony Minghella's snappy script, the art direction, and the cinematography are just some of the things that make Nine such a sensory overload. Marshall also even brings the cast out at the end for bows.
The most important thing in movie musicals is the singing and dancing. Nobody needs to be worried about these things in Nine. Every cast member sings and dances beautifully with the exception of Kate Hudson whose voice is unfortunately changed for the trailer. Daniel Day-Lewis is a surprisingly good singer and dances pretty nicely too. The two great numbers are "Be Italian" and "A Call to the Vatican". Fergie totally rocks her number in which she plays an overweight prostitute and Penelope Cruz blew me away with her sexy number involving a striptease. Yet it really is Marion Cotillard who "takes it all" (no pun intended). I've been watching Marion Cotillard since she first starred in La Vie En Rose and it's fortunate that she's finally begun to star in big movies. Hopefully she'll get more recognition now.
The bottom line is Nine is great. Though the film does get a bit tiresome midway through, the songs are energetic and make you remember why you love it. Rob Marshall does a great job directing his stars and the art direction and cinematography are sure to win some awards. Every actor who is part of the main cast sings well and the choreography is very nice. Rob Marshall has done it again with Nine and I totally look forward to seeing it take home awards on Oscar night.
What is to dislike about the film Nine? I suppose it depends upon the viewer's expectations--a peculiarity of the dramatic arts, perhaps especially cinema. My expectations were at least 95% fulfilled. I had only a casting problem. As talented and as beautiful as Nicole Kidman may be, she does not evoke the haunting, angelic perfection of the original Claudia: Claudia Cardinale. Her beauty is, if one may say so, tough Australian, rather than ethereal Italian. But Nicole did well, as did everyone else in the film. (Is there any character Daniel Day-Lewis can't play to perfection?)
Nine says essentially the same thing 8 1/2 did: making movies based on personal, biographical visions and mistakes can absorb one artistically at the cost of "real life" relationships. It's something great directors such as Fellini, Bergman, and Scorsese just have to deal with. Thanks to Arthur Kopit, Mario Fratti, and composer-lyricist Maury Yeston, the story, the point, the dialogue expressed the theme absorbingly and intelligently.
But most of all, it was a joy to hear and see the musical numbers so faithfully presented, worked into the story, executed. As with every film adaptation of a Broadway musical, I missed some numbers that were in the show, most notably "Only With You" and "Simple". However, it was nice to hear a few new Maury Yeston songs, especially "Cinema Italiano". So, if you're expecting a musically and dramatically satisfying film version of a hit show, see Nine.
Anyway on with the review...
We have Guido, who has lost his inspiration and desire to produce a movie. He cant sleep, cant eat, and can't rest in peace. Everybody loves him and his work, except for his last 2 films which were considered flops, and he doesn't understand why everyone thinks he is so special. So he searches for a source of inspiration from his dead mother , played wonderfully by the never aging and always beautiful Sophia Loren. He looks for inspiration in loving and dedicated his wife Marion Cotillard. He also talks to his mistress, played wonderfully and seductively by Penelope Cruz. The only person who seems to keep him leveled is his wardrobe designer, played stunning and remarkably by Dame Judi Dench. His movie has a press conference, poster and is being promoted, even has a release date...However he doesn't even have a cast, the main actress, Nicole Kidman, nor has he even wrote a script yet.
The lights and camera angles and color schemes were all brilliant just like Chicago. however the filming wasn't as crisp. it looked smokey and grimy, like a bar scene..but maybe that is how Rob Marshall wanted it to look. The best scenes in the movie for me were the Dame Judi Dench (I didn't know she could sing, and with an accent as well. lol) and the Fergie sequences. (that was Fergie?!?!) she looked incredible. Not like a teeny hip-hop, wanna-be girl, but a sexy, sultry, mature lady you want to lead you down many roads of temptations. The only down side is Nicole Kidman, who looked flat and out of place in this film.
I would definitely see this movie again, and I hope there are many extended extras on the DVD when it comes out.
Visually this movie is brilliant and some moments are breathtaking. Each song has it's own unique look and feel. There are flashback style moments that have the feel of an updated French New Wave style. Anyone who loves films will find a lot to praise in this one! I felt the actresses were all solid save for Nicole Kidman who wasn't believable as the beautiful young goddess actress. She just seemed miscast. Marion Cotillard is amazing. Her emotional depth is undeniable and she has a very nice voice. Good old Fergie was also a pleasant surprise. She has the smallest part, but her musical number is energetic and visually amazing. I've never liked her music much, but her voice is perfect for this part.
I recommend watching Federico Fellini's 81/2 before this film as that is what it is based on and it will give you a little more background going in. Go in with an open mind and enjoy what's happening in front of you. Don't get bogged down in the lack of character history we see, just trust that the actors and actresses know the character histories and the emotions they are playing are honest and true.
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.
What can we all expected from such a resounding miscellany where we can find some of the best of the best?!
Many people try (and some have done it!) to depreciate this picture through prejudice and implied statements, around the excessive number of stars gathered and the repetition of one kind of formula for success already implemented at "Chicago"!! This is just a huge and colossal mistake!!! In my opinion, it all comes down to the unwillingness on the part of frustrated critics. And, of course, a marketing policy oriented for failure.
Let me say it loud: This film is not a cheap imitation of the 1963 Federico Fellini's "8 1/2", nor a flop or a failure concept! Au contraire, it is a product of extreme quality, with moments that should mark the history of cinema! Take note of this and be amazed to:
-- We have a king-size Cast, with Academy Awards Winners DANIEL DAY-LEWIS (1989 & 2007) singing beautifully and in a record that many were eager to see; JUDI DENCH (1999) as always superb and perfect (and singing, as if it were not enough); NICOLE KIDMAN (2002) remembering the old good days of "Moulin Rouge"; MARION COTILLARD (2007) showing that she is capable of much more than just play hard the most potent icon of France in "La Môme"; and, last but not the least, the huge Iberian monster PENÉLOPE CRUZ (2009). Apart from the wonderful KATE HUDSON (Academy Award Nominee 2001), providing one of the highlights of the film with the perfect performance of "Cinema Italiano" (2010 Golden Globe Nominee for Best Song); the striking and resonant pop-singer FERGIE, with a significant moment of symmetrical and timed choreography and singing in "Be Italian"; and SOPHIA LOREN (Academy Award Winner 1962), with an aura of being entranced and awestruck!
-- We have the writer ANTHONY MINGHELLA (Academy Award Winner for "The English Patient") in one of his last works for the big screen.
-- AND, We have the master of musical pictures ROB MARSHALL! An amazing director, whose mind has built big hits as "Chicago" and "Memoirs of a Geisha"!
My Godness, "NINE" has everything! A great great great Crew... The Costume Design is once again impeccable, built by COLLEEN ATWOOD (Winner of 2 Academy Awards). And the songs are ALL perfectly written, perfectly composed and perfectly sung!
So what are you waiting for? Go see it. Delight yourself. Enjoy. It is really worth every penny of the ticket! I can assure you. You will not regret it! A singing and melodic 9 out of 10!
Marshall, Oscar nominated for his breakthrough directorial debut Chicago, lost all the flavor and originality we once respected him for. The performances of most are right on target; get the job done, and sure to break through some awards buzz this season. The narrative by Michael Tolkin and the late Anthony Minghella is flat, unemotional, and vacant. The songs are tedious and a bit monotonous in their delivery, despite the cast surprisingly having good vocal chops. You would think that a big time musical such as Nine would have big notes that engage the viewer, and an interpretation that would move the viewer. None of those occur often enough in the film. Nine is not a failure, it just suffers major malfunctions that don't keep the machine moving.
Daniel Day-Lewis helms the picture as Guido Contini, an Italian director looking for inspiration for his next film. Day-Lewis gives a solid effort which we haven't seen from him before but in comparison to his previous works in There Will Be Blood and Gangs of New York, he doesn't elevate the material as often or doesn't translate his musical numbers like he should. When he's not singing, Day-Lewis is in charge, in top form, and showing what he's always excelled at, decode a character's feelings and become an inferno of talent.
Marion Cotillard is easily the most sentimental and profound player in the entire picture playing the heartrending Luisa, Guido's adulterated wife. What Cotillard has demonstrated beyond any type of acting capacity, a sexy, stylish, and devastating performance. With her two musical numbers, "Take It All" and "My Husband Makes Movies," Cotillard improves and exalts one of the most poignant performances of the year. This is the single performance of the film that Oscar shouldn't miss out on.
Nicole Kidman, Oscar winning actress for The Hours, is as wasted as she is unimportant playing the beautiful Claudia, Guido's muse for his film. Kidman's one big scene of the film becomes a borefest of words that have no verbal value to the viewer or the story. Unfortunately Kidman is the forgettable cast mate that is ultimately invisible. She's unused, underwritten, and employed as movie wallpaper. For shame.
Judi Dench as the costume designer Lilli has one big musical number which again is uninspired and lackluster. She has charisma in her speaking scenes and sort of upstages Day-Lewis much of the time, she eventually falls victim to a bland, insipid account.
Sophia Loren, the beautiful veteran Italian actress plays Mamma as in Guido's Mom, and gives a presence of royalty that the film lacks. She walks through the film with a manifestation of poise and allure.
Kate Hudson, as the cute Stephanie, the fashion critic for Vogue Magazine, is surprisingly fresh and fun. Her "Cinema Italiano" is one of the more pleasurable and enjoyable numbers in the film. It's nice to see Hudson give a bright, inventive cinematic turn in lines with her Oscar nominated work in Almost Famous.
Fergie is one of the sexier parts of the film as Saraghina, the lust of Guido's adolescence. Her "Be Italian" in terms of vocal capability is the best of the movie experience. Big notes, modern-like, and innovativeness, Fergie is one of the memorable players here but in terms of actual "acting," she's never given the chance to show what she can do.
Penelope Cruz, in one of her most aggressive and provocative turns yet plays the luscious Carla, Guido's married mistress. Cruz, in the film's opening number, is eager and provides hope to what seemed was going to be a promising experience. Along with Cotillard, Cruz is an Oscar worthy player. Fascinating, passionate, and enthusiastic along encompasses the traits in Ms. Cruz's arsenal.
Technically, the film sits very well. A stunning art director controlling the date and time of Marshall's film is quite good. Dion Beebe regulates our essential point of view and how dazzling it can look despite any flaws narratively. At it again, Colleen Atwood shows how she's one of the top designers in the business. Marshall in the end copycats himself, which is not a directorial style rather a Chicago-repeat without the razzle-dazzle.
Consequently, Rob Marshall's Nine isn't terrible, which doesn't say much. It's passable, average, and done before. It may not have been the screen writers liability for the strikeout, it's just an un-fascinating and awkwardly weak show. Nine, the film, however, is awkwardly coy, which is not an imaginative sense that the viewer anticipated. Nine in the end, in the finale, walking out of the theater, everything you thought about it, levels out just fine, which I guess is admirable. Is it Oscar bound? Unfortunately yes.
Let me say this, if you are going to evaluate "Nine" then don't compare it to "8 1/2". Evaluate it on its on merits and not if it is "faithful" to a movie it is based upon.
Secondly, if you don't like musicals, (especially stage musicals) or stunningly beautiful and sexy women, then maybe this will not be your cup of tea, and neither will your review be very helpful.
That said, this movie was VERY stylishly filmed and edited, the music was GREAT, a la "broadway cabaret" (NOT "berlin" syle), the acting was dramatic and believable (from Daniel Day-Lewis and Dame Judy Dench, I expect no less) the women were awesome, the dancing and choreography was top notch.
The only short-coming (if you want a nice little "story") is that the plot really was fairly non-existent. But just consider it as the vehicle for the music and the dancing and the OH SO BEAUTIFUL women.
SIX women, representing SIX countries: Italy, France, Spain, England, America, Australia (Loren, Cotillard, Cruz, Dench, Hudson, Kidman). This movie is definitely worth a "nine" but I gave it ten to compensate for the "majority".