My first trip out in the new year was to see 'Nine' at my local multiplex moving picture emporium. I don't really know anything about it and only found out it was based on a stage musical of the same name when Chris told me afterwards. But the clips I'd seen looked good, so decided it was worth a look. And it got me out of the house.
It's a big, brash musical mainly set in the studio with the same set, slightly changed, used for most of the big musical scenes, and that worked really well for the most part. It's the tale of a famous Italian film director (Daniel Day-Lewis) in the late '50s/early '60s who is days away from starting his latest film venture but he doesn't have a script or any ideas. The film shows his predicament and his agonies (allowing Daniel to 'act') as he suffers 'directors block' and then runs away to a spa on the coast to escape everyone - except they soon catch up with him. The film flashes backwards and forwards showing the past and present of the director and his muses and stars, moving at a nice pace.
The director's story was meant to keep it all going and link the different elements together but it didn't quite work for me - it was more of a sequence of spectacular song scenes with a bit of narrative in between. Daniel was suitably dramatic as the director and carried off his songs well enough, but he sounded like Maximillian Schell and I couldn't get that out of my head.
Of the ladies, I'd highlight Penelope Cruz as a sex kitten with some nice dramatic moments; Judi Dench made-over into a voluptuous siren with a sexy French accent in her song (but not in her speaking voice, which was odd); and Fergie, who surprised me with the power of her voice and presence on screen, showing off her 'lady bumps' to good effect as the local whore of the director's town when he was young. Her 'Be Italian' sequence was excellent.
Sophia Loren was a pleasant surprise and Nicole Kidman looked good and sang one song, but the real kudos should go to Marion Cotillard who was excellent, a gentle and under-played presence on the screen with two emotional songs which she sang with a good voice, particularly, 'My Husband Makes Movies'. I'd also have to mention Kate Hudson's 'Cinema Italiano' sequence with her in shimmery miniskirt and full-on '60s girl singer moves. Great stuff.
I enjoyed it, it lacked something in the storytelling department (like explaining the relevance of the title 'Nine' which, I'm told, is clear in the stage version), but it's a good way of spending a couple of hours.