Sunday, 7 February 2010

I Can’t Make Review This Movie

I resent the current state of affairs that made me wary about seeing Nine. Sure, I’m not one to quake and  I do often go against the crowd – just see my reviews of The Lovely Bones and Up in the Air and you’ll get the picture. It’s probably because was everyone’s drawing board for reviewing Nine, one of those timeless classic – yadda, yadda ya. Truthfully I’m not too fond of . Granted, I’ve seen it once but other than a lovely Anouk Aimee I wasn’t too invested. Then there’s the fact that other than the visual parallels (which are admittedly milked too much) I never thought Nine was an adaptation of anyways. It’s like criticising West Side Story for not being faithful to Romeo & Juliet. It isn’t. It’s based on a Broadway play in turn inspired by Romeo & Juliet. The same goes for Nine. But I don’t want to start this out as a defence. I’m too prone to rebuttal and we can’t all like the same things – still, this was putting me in a bit of a quandary. I’m  experiencing the critical version of Guido I suppose, I’m suffering from a block. So – instead of a review - a list!
I WORSHIPPED – the music. Naturally. I like Maury Yeston, he’s a poor man’s Stephen Sondheim , yes, and Nine is his piece de resistance. It’s a shame that some of my favourites were cut but each of the ten songs is beautiful to me. Even "Folies Bergeres" which always irritated me from the Broadway Cast sounds lovely here.                 
I ADORED – Carla and Luisa and Claudia. They’re the three women most important and I suppose each is perfectly cast. Certainly Marion Cotillard is the best, but Penelope is not  that far behind. She’s no worse than the company she keeps in that Oscar nominated batch, I only hope StinkyLulu has a space for me in his smackdown so I can salvage the imminent 2s and 3s she’ll be getting. Claudia was never a big role, but don’t tell Nicole that – she plays it like a lead, and that’s what any Diva does. She sings "Unusual Way" in an alto which is more haunting that Laura Benanti’s mellifluous soprano.
I LOVED – "Be Italian". I’m glad they took out the line "Be Italian" you rapscallion and vocally Fergie is the best Saraghina I’ve heard and she’s easy on the eyes.
I GREATLY APPRECIATED – all things technical. Lighting, cinematography, costumes, hair and makeup and set design were all splendid.
I LIKED VERY VERY MUCH – Judi and Daniel. I’m probably alone on both counts. "Guido’s Song" just may be my favourite number and I just love how Daniel enunciates his words. When he sings "I Can’t Make This Movie" I wondered how anyone could doubt him… and Judi, darling Lilli Judi is great, as per usual. People recognise Streep isn’t doing her best work but love her nevertheless. It’s a shame the same can’t be said for Judi. She’s awesome, I like her French.
I LIKED (with slight reservations) – Sophia and Kate. I like "Cinema Italiano", so I won’t go there. Stephanie is superfluous, but I can see what they were aiming at. Sophia just has to look majestic and Italian, and of course she does. I would have preferred if she’d actually song the song "Nine", but "Guarda La Luna" is a pretty number.
I DISLIKED – the cutting of "Simple". I know, songs will be cut (see above) but Carla needed an emotional number, it’s a pity they wanted to turn her into comic relief only.
I DID NOT APPRECIATE – the story. The runtime is standard for a film, but it all flies by and so much more could have been addressed. The subplot of Guido’s childhood could have been explored so much more and though “The Bells of St. Sebastian” is not my favourite number it is necessary, though I suppose it is more of a “stage” number.

I UNDERSTOOD (but did not love) – Marshall’s approach. It’s not just Chicago redux, you can’t sing a number like "Folies Bergeres" in real time, it’s obviously fantastical. His attempts at making Nine a literal world of Guido is obvious, but more could have been done to focus on his indecisivenes and his growth as a man - sans women.
I’m alone for the most part, but what’s new? Nine is imperfect, but it is inspired. I’m waiting for Marshall’s next musical since this is not the film from Hell that it’s been touted as and though he needs to bring all his talents together I know he can make something excellent in the future. His problem is not that he's a bad director, his problem is that he doesn't know to combine his talents. My prayers are with him, I hope the backlash doesn’t destroy his career.
PS. Don't forget to play the GAME.


Marcy said...

I really wanted to see this. Then the negative reviews came pouring in and I just thought--no, I can't see this anymore. And now I want to see it again, yet it's not playing in my local theater anymore...? Maybe I should just go re-watch Chicago for the fifth time?

Anyway, terrific review. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it for the most part and Nicole Kidman plays it like a lead because she's just awesome.

You're not fond of 8 1/2? It's okay, I'm not fond of a lot of artsy films either. I loved 8 1/2 surprisingly enough. It's really, a gorgeous, aesthetically-pleasing film.

joe burns said...

Really? A B+? I would have given it a C.

TomS said...

Glad you finally got to see it...and I think you gave a marvlously fair review. I loved the movie, its techique, even it's similarities to 8-1/2! Thanks for giving your honest reaction. A fine piece of writing!

Jude said...

It's definitely in the B/B+ territory. I don't get all of the negative C's flying around it, nor do I understand the lack of a lot of technical nominations at the Oscars.

CrazyCris said...

I don't see what people are complaining about so much... it's not great, but it ain't bad either! My only bone was having to see it dubbed, which is always more jarring in a musical since you hear the actual voices when they sing.

Oh, and I wish Marion had gotten a nomination instead of Pe, I thought she did a much better job! But I guess sex appeal counts for a lot in a male-dominated selecting body...

here's what I had to say a few days after seeing it:

Alex in Movieland said...

I will need to see it again...

I still think Sophia Loren should've stayed in retirement. Looking at the camera when you're not supposed to and not bothering to do the acting - something I don't appreciate.

Jose said...

Hahaha it's "Nine" on our minds apparently!
I agree with every little thing you say, I thought this was greatly entertaining.
I think a lot of people were actually expecting "8 1/2" and obviously were disappointed when they saw it wasn't (remember not everyone can see it on stage).
But to rank it in the same critical league as "Transformers 2" is ridiculous!
DDL is excellent and Nicole Kidman really takes your breath away. The movie really works during the musical sequences and these actresses are all at the top of their game. Penélope's nomination is definitely not the surprise people are saying and Cotillard will go down as the-pardon the pun- unsung performance of the year.
I now say fine if they didn't like it, I'll keep on enjoying it as long as I can.

The Mad Hatter said...

Damn...looks like I'm going to play the role of lone dissenter.

I like it more now having re-watched 8 1/2, but still don't like it enough to reccomend it. It's not that I feel it's inferior to 8 1/2, it's more that I think it isn't a good enough musical to adapt to the big screen.

Aside from "Be Italian", there's no song that sticks with you when the credits roll. Compare that to WEST SIDE STORY (Since you mentioned it) that sends you home with at least three.

I think there might have been a better movie in there somewhere, but to get that, Marshall needed to get more varied performances from his actresses.

anahita said...

good, fair review. It wasn't a perfect film but it doesn't deserve the bashing it's been getting - I found it very enjoyable. LOVE the soundtrack too, wasn't familiar with the broadway one so can;t complain about song cuts! xxxxx

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

everyone sorry for the late response. final exams abound!

marcy i know it sounds glib, but i think if you think you'll like it, you'll like it.

joe well i really liked it, i feel like seeing it again actually.

tom thank your for the lovely compliments.

jude the technical snubs do hurt.

crazycris dubbed films are horrid, hope you get to see it again.

alex i can't remember that actually...

jose it really is ridiculously entertaining. i think it's going to age astoundingly well though.

the mad hatter well you didn't like Nine, and I didn't like Up in the Air. no worries.

anahita the soundtrack is lovely.

M. Carter @ the Movies said...

I like Penelope Cruz in everything, so I'm onboard for "Nine" even though I have some reservations about Daniel Day-Lewis in a musical.

Nigel Maruva Chikukwa said...

I am watching this Friday. I'm glad you adored Kidman....But then again you love her as much as I do lol...

No one was talking about her and I am hoping to have a few things to brag of when I watch it.

I'm also excited for Marion Cotillard (I always use a French accent when saying her name..just to look cool lol)