Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nine - DVD Review


Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Stacy Ferguson and Sophia Loren.
Directed by Rob Marshall.

I appreciate live-action musicals. I like that Hollywood is trying to keep them alive. I really enjoyed Moulin Rouge and Chicago and Sweeney Todd and Hairspray. A great deal depends on the quality of the source material and the imagination of the director. And while an amazing cast has been assembled here, the source material just isn't that good. When I came out of Chicago, I could remember "All That Jazz" and "Mr. Cellophane" and "He Had It Coming" and the press-conference number and "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury... a tapdance." (Still do, years later.) The only tune I can remember a day later from Nine is "Be Italian." Meh.

Daniel Day Lewis is the center, Guido, a brilliant director who's had his last two films flop, and he has writer's block trying to come up with his next picture. The women in his life show up for real or in his memories, and each gets a musical number or two. Fergie has the previously-mentioned "Be Italian" number as a crush from his childhood. You also have his wife (Marion Cotillard), his ex-wife (Nicole Kidman), his mistress (Penelope Cruz), his assistant (Judi Dench), his mother (Sophia Loren), and a ingenue flirt (Kate Hudson).

Acting-wise, Cruz and Cotillard stuck out to me most. It is the umpteenth movie about a "struggling artist" who's a complete jerk in his personal life and by the end realizes how many lives he's destroyed while working on his own immortality. Director Rob Marshall (Chicago) stages every musical number as a lingerie-clad bump-and-grind number like he's remaking Cabaret.

Some good ideas here, great cast; better than, say, Phantom of the Opera, but not really that memorable as far as our modern movie musicals go.

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