Friday, January 22, 2010

"Who's that Frenchy chick? She was hot!" And Other Nine-Related Musings

I went and saw Rob Marshall's Nine this afternoon. At first I thought I had walked into the wrong cinema since in the second row from the back of the quite small cinema they were screening the movie in sat a row of what looked to be 16-year-olds. Three girls and four boys. I don't know if they knew what movie they were going to see and I imagined similar scenes to when I saw Sweeney Todd and five minutes in a young guy screamed out "WHY ARE THEY SINGING?" before cursing Tim Burton during the closing credits.

Not to sound stalker-like, but I wanted to make sure to follow them once the credits roled because I was legitimately intrigued as to what their reactions would be. Throughout the movie I noticed on the guys was clearly infatuated with Penelope Cruz and her assets - wouldn't you be at 16? sexually confused or not - while one of the girls thoughts Daniel Day-Lewis was "gross!" when he removed his shirt and sat in a spa with a cardinal.

Leaving the cinema one of the other boys remarked "Who's that Frenchy chich? She was hot!" A bit of highbrow taste from our underage moviegoers? Heading out of the cinema though and I overheard this scintillating piece of teen-talk.

"That was weird."
"Yeah. Weird."
"I know, right. So weird."
"I didn't know Nicole Kidman was in it."

And then they started talking about some friend of theirs and how they don't want to go to her house party tonight and I promptly skedaddled for fear of looking creepy.

As for myself? I can't say I'm not disappointed, but I also can't say I wasn't warned and that I didn't walk in with lowered expectations. It met them. Marion Cotillard warrants devotion for this performance and she was almost good enough to make me forget (at least momentarily) how completely retched La Vie on Rose was, and she in it. Penelope Cruz is fine even if she is playing the exact same everything from Vicky Cristina Barcelona, while the rest of the female cast all fill their spot with no major pros or cons. Daniel Day-Lewis on the other hand, as Guido Contini, lands firmly in the con side of the debate. What a bizarre performance. He is an incredibly handsome man so I'm not sure why they made him ugly and greasy. That singing voice wasn't exactly sparkling like a diamond either, was it?

The songs are about 50/50. I had no prior knowledge of the stage show's score. I am aware that they took a few key numbers out, such as the title track, but I found it odd that the best song was one of the new tracks, "Take It All", performed by Marion Cotillard. In fact, Cotillard gets the two best numbers from the film along with "My Husband Makes Movies". The biggest problem with the musical numbers is the way they are edited. Kidman's "Unusual Way" and Cotillard's "Take it All", especially, which cut back and forth from the fantasy stage within Day-Lewis' mind and the real world. It breaks the flow of the songs and is particularly frustrating when the songs could have so easily been situated within this real world as characters breaking into song instead of them appearing in Contini's mind. If Rob Marshall makes another musical in the future, and I hope he does since Chicago is so excellent, then I hope he ditches this idea that musical sequences must be performed on the stage within the mind.

On a technical level the film is ace. Cinematography, Art Direction, Costumes and so on all all fabulous, but the film's lack of an arc makes it all feel incredibly flat. The Guido Contini of the opening five minutes is the same Guido Contini all the way through until the epilogue. An epilogue that felt like it should have been a big musical number ala Bob Fosse's own take on 8 1/2, All That Jazz. Alas, it just ends. And so it goes. B-


Anonymous said...


What cinema were you at? Because I swear I saw you and those same people. Ahh, yay that's exciting.

I totally agree with you on the film. I loved Cinema Italiano and quite enjoyed Hudson. But why the hell was Fergie in the film. She didnt have one line. And I found incredibly annoying how they talked during the songs. Especially in Unusual Way. It was like

"In a very unusual way..."


:| But I enjoyed watching it. Cotillard was fantastic. B+ from me.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Maury Yeston's score has surprisingly turned into a great divider with the musical, countless reviewers have singled out their dissatisfaction with the score. But he's certainly not for all. I still have to see this, but Nine I could understand Marshall's plight because the musical is definitely one that works better on stage. Still, glad to see good words for Marion.

Owen said...

Okay, sure the film itself isn't that good. But really, I wasn't expecting much. All I wanted to do was have fun and that's what I did, have fun. I think people are taking this film way too seriously. Especially film snobs that love Fellini's pretentious 8 1/2. Calm down it's not supposed to be an exact remake.

Glenn Dunks said...

Owen, was that directed at me? I didn't take it too seriously - and I have been on endlessly defending the film as not being a "remake" of 8 1/2 as some people have been claiming - but there are big issues with the movie right out there in the open. And, unfortunately, it wasn't as "fun" as Marshall's own Chicago.

TomS said...

I really loved the film, because it WAS true to the spirit of Fellini, and to Fosse. The structure worked for me. It was fun, it was fascinating.....I am just a lone voice in the wilderness, I guess!

tim said...

I almost had a heart attack because the situation in which you saw this movie is the exact same in which I saw this movie. Except I was in the group of seven people.

Though we saw it that night, not that afternoon. Literally, the "weird" conversation occurred between two of my friends, and one of them mentioned Nicole Kidman and how they never knew she was in it. How bizarre.

In my opinion, Marion Cotillard was the only noteworthy performance in the film. If anyone deserved an Oscar nomination it was her. And then again, there were much more deserving performances this year that should have taken Nine's slot.

And then I despised the film, and I gave it 1 out of 5 stars. And that isn't because I was expecting boobs. Being gay, I would have preferred if the camera lingered on Kate Hudson's dancers instead of her.