Thursday 10 Jul

Escape from Tomorrow

With Escape from Tomorrow, one fears the story behind the movie would loom larger than the movie itself. Luckily, that is not the case. After all, it opens with a decapitation on Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster.
05/06/2014 | Comments 0


William Friedkin spends a lot of time in his 2013 memoir discussing why Sorcerer didn't click with critics and audiences even though he believes it to be better than his previous film, The Exorcist. Now that Warner Home Video has reissued Sorcerer on Blu-ray, we can see what Friedkin's fuss is all about.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Broadchurch: The Complete First Season

Welcome to the coastal resort of Broadchurch, population … oh, who can keep track, what will all the corpses? Yes, Broadchurch is yet another British television procedural involving the search for a murderer in a quaint little town, just like the limited series The Fall and Top of the Lake.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Essentially part five in the ridiculously profitable horror franchise, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones continues the found-footage conceit of the other films. The difference is instead of the scares taking place in rich white suburbia, they do so in a junky apartment complex on a largely Latino side of Oxnard, Calif.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Drama · Nine


None December 24th, 2009

Oh, the anguish of being rich and famous. For sometimes, as in the case of the fictional Italian moviemaker of "Nine," the rich and famous are plagued by writer's block, self-absorption and a ravenous appetite for beautiful women. And sometimes, as in the case of Daniel Day-Lewis ("There Will Be Blood"), who portrays the aforementioned moviemaker, the rich and famous are stuck in self-important claptrap.

Based on a 1982 Tony-winning Broadway hit, "Nine" has taken a circuitous journey to the big screen. That musical, in turn, had been inspired by Federico Fellini's 1963 masterpiece, "," which involved the febrile world of a Felliniesque director ricocheting between fantasy and memory. Any pretentiousness of that film was offset by ample portions of humor, sexiness and playful surrealism.

Alas, only the sexiness survives in "Nine," as the movie-based-on-a-play-based-on-another-movie has more in common with a Victoria's Secret catalogue than Fellini. It is Rome circa 1965, and acclaimed movie director Guido Contini (Day-Lewis) is burdened by women who evidently can't get enough of his brooding solipsism. That group includes Guido's ex-actress wife (Marion Cotillard, "Public Enemies"), a needy mistress (Penélope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"), Guido's movie-starlet muse (Nicole Kidman, "Australia"), a costume designer (Judi Dench, "Quantum of Solace") and the ghost of his beloved mama (Sophia Loren, in a desperate bit of stunt casting).

With so many distractions, how's a guy to work? Shooting is about to begin on Guido's ninth film, tentatively titled "Italia," but the celebrated artist is paralyzed by self-doubt. He has too much to say; he has nothing new to say; he must smoke and chew gum. It's tough to determine exactly what has Guido so befuddled. It might be the excess of disorientingly quick edits employed by "Nine" director Rob Marshall ("Memoirs of a Geisha").

Whatever the cause, Guido is blocked. He darts out of a confrontational press conference, hops in his Alfa Romeo and hightails it to a resort outside Rome for soul-searching and big musical numbers.

Cursory Portrait

Marshall came close to resuscitating the Hollywood musical with 2005's "Chicago," but he has his work cut out for him here. The screenplay is ponderous and heavy-handed, and it provides only a cursory portrait of the tortured artist. Day-Lewis is among our finest screen actors, certainly, but his sullen, mannered performance only makes the character's ostensible charisma all the more inexplicable.

The women in the cast aren't given much opportunity to distinguish themselves, despite the not-unwelcome abundance of fishnets and bustiers that augment Guido's fantasy life. Only Cotillard manages to wring some emotional resonance as the long-suffering wife.

Perhaps most crippling is that "Nine," for all its surface style, is a musical without memorable music. Only two songs register: Fergie (of hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas) performing "Be Italian" and Kate Hudson ("Bride Wars") as a flirty Vogue reporter warbling "Cinema Italiano." Even those standout numbers have virtually nothing to do with moving the narrative forward.

Rent "" instead. - Phil Bacharach

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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