Monday, May 10, 2010

Musical Mondays! NINE

This will likely be the newest musical I review for this feature, but as I just saw it, and would review it anyway, and it's a musical, this seems appropriate.  Nine is based on the stage musical from a few years ago, which was in turn loosely based on the film 8 1/2 by Fellini.  I've never seen the stage version, and I have seen very few Fellini films, and not 8 1/2.  So I went into this film based solely on the strength of the cast and director.  Rob Marshall did a terrific job bringing Chicago to the screen (that will be reviewed soon), so I had high hopes for this.  As it never came to my local theater, I had to wait for Netflix.  However, I'd heard the many unhappy reviews, but took them with a grain of salt given my higher-than-usual tolerance for musicals.  My mom used to say a good measure of a quality musical is whether you leave the theater humming the tunes.  While I did get some of the songs stuck in my head for the evening, Nine was disappointing. 

We meet Guido Contini (a whiny unsympathetic Daniel Day-Lewis), a maestro of Italian cinema in the 1960s.  He's tortured by lack of inspiration for his new film, and seeks it from the many women in high life.  The movie is mostly about the women, and for that I did enjoy it, but they too are kinda whiny and needy.  Most of the story is told through Guido's remembered fantasies about these women.  The ones who weren't were the ones I liked best: Judi Dench and FergiDench plays Guido's long suffering costumer.  She talks about her start at the Paris nightspot the Folies Bergere.  She tries to keep Guido in line and get his movies made the way he wants them.  A great big sister.  Fergie (from the Black Eyed Peas) plays the whore who Guido met as a child who gave him and his friends a bit of a show and told them how to treat women.  Her song was easily my favorite, and definitely the best sung song of the bunch.  Her voice and raunchy dance number, "Be Italian", were really terrific.  The rest of the women also each sing a song about their relationship with Guido - Marion Cotillard as his wife, Penelope Cruz (in an oddly Oscar nominated role) as his mistress, Sophia Loren as his deceased mother, Nicole Kidman as the actress from his movies, and Kate Hudson as a journalist interviewing him.  All the musical numbers were performed in Guido's head and on the same stage (save one song by his wife) and the sets did invoke the crazy unfinished nature of Guido's mind.  The costumes were also terrific, and I'm surprised weren't even nominated for an Oscar.  Overall, the movie didn't live up to my hopes, and didn't live up to the incredible cast.  Personally, I blame it on Day-Lewis being improperly cast - somehow I sense another actor could pull it off better.  I think Raul Julia and Antonio Bandares played it on Broadway, and that seems like better casting.  2.5 of 5 stars/lambs


Rachel said...

I just watched this last week. Well, I had it on while I tallied Friday's LAMBScores, as after about 30 minutes I couldn't bear to give it all my attention.

And I totally agree with you. Fergie had the best song/dance number and the rest was pretty forgettable. Kate Hudson's song got stuck in my head, but I didn't want it there. DDL was horribly miscast and I was hesitant to watch a film with him singing to begin with. I'll do a review (probably a half-assed one) eventually).

Jess said...

Rachel - I like your half assed reviews. Lots of personality. And since this movie phoned it in, so can you.