Dec 3, 2010

[Movies] Nine (2009)

Nine (2009)While I'm not big on romantic comedies and even dramas of a similar vein (although my partner is changing this slowly but steadily), I do appreciate a good musical and that's about as sappy as I get for the most part.

And yes, this movie is not a romantic comedy, but it is a sort of a drama. And it is rather musical in nature. So good points there. And Rob Marshall is perhaps better known for his choreography work on Broadway but he has ventured into directing more and more in recent years. The quality of his work is somewhat inconsistent, as far as my opinion is concerned but he is still better than most in this particular movie genre.

Where does this one stand? Well that's a bit hard for me determine right off the bat, but with luck we'll all figure it out by the end of this post. Not before the end, but right around there. It's how these things work after all.

Nine is a romantic drama with musical bits in it as directed and produced by Rob Marshall. The movie was based on a book for a musical of the same name, which in turn is somewhat inspired by the semi-autobiographical movie 8½ by Federico Fellini.

Nine (2009)Image by Lord_Henry via FlickrThe movie begins with Italian filmmaker Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) developing a rather serious case of writer's block. While the media clamors for his next masterpiece, he then turns to all the women of his life (whether alive or dead) in order to get past his creative block. These are Claudia Jenssen (Nicole Kidman), his leading lady; Luisa (Marion Cotillard), his wife; Carla (Penelope Cruz), his mistress; Lilli (Judi Dench), his costume designer; his Mamma (Sophia Loren); Stephanie (Kate Hudson), an American journalist and Saraghina (Fergie), a prostitute from his childhood.

Thus in the movie, he continues to dodge questions from the media about his upcoming film, his ninth collaboration with producer Dante (Ricky Tognazzi). All he can reveal at this time is the fact that he's calling it Italia, and that's about it. Thus the movie continues on as we follow Guido in his struggles to figure out what the movie is going to be as each of the leading women sing their songs, tell their stories and flesh out more and more of the complications of his life.

The movie was rather confusing to me, and whether this is because Guido's thinking was highly erratic and confusing or Rob Marshall was the one with the confused vision is hard to say. If Marshall did this movie extremely well, then perhaps he accurately captured the confused thoughts of the protagonist. If it was just Marshall, then perhaps he had a decent story and got too distracted with all the musical numbers to the point that it affected the quality of the story. I'll leave that to you as a viewer to decide.

The movie does have some truly stellar dance routines that feel reminiscent of Moulin Rouge at times with the sensibilities of Chicago, which was another Marshal-directed movie. My favorite numbers were definitely Folies Bergères by Dame Judi Dench and Be Italian by Fergie. Yes, I actually liked a Fergie performance - who could have predicted that? But this not to say the other numbers weren't good - they were all striking in their own unique manner. Plus I loved the approach for both the opening and closing numbers and the use of the stage imagery to sort of frame the movie at the beginning and at the end.

But the other stuff was confusing, and erratic and rather aimless. And despite the powerful cast with amazing track records to their name (well, maybe not Fergie just yet), the movie came out rather weak. I feel that a lot of their acting skills were totally wasted and the only person who got to enjoy the spotlight was Daniel Day-Lewis. I appreciate his skills, but I would have appreciated more of a group effort here.

Nine may be worth it for the dancing and musical bits, I'll give it that. Marshall can certainly direct a musical sequence in a manner that was classy and deftly skilled. But the bits in-between are worth ignoring as they drone on and one about this song and that. It gets 2 excuses to play with sad in a dance sequence out of a possible 5. One for Judi Dench and another for Fergie. Good job Fergie.

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