81. Nine (C)
In further "$4.99 at Future Shop" adventures, there's this, what was to be the centrepiece of Miramax's 2009 Oscar campaign, but ended up being a dud. I didn't see it then, as a result; so is there anything worth seeing? Answer: you will believe that Daniel Day-Lewis can make a bad movie (well, he already kinda did with The Ballad of Jack and Rose
, but that was a favour to his wife).
The musical this is based on is an adaptation of Fellini's 8 1/2
("8 1/2" + "music" = "9"), which I haven't seen, but, for starters, the movie fails the most basic litmus test for musicals: does watching it make me want to buy the soundtrack? (Rob Marshall's earlier Chicago
, by comparison, has the highest score on that test of any of the live-action musicals I've seen to date) Only a couple of the musical sequences are memorable, the rest failing because of an uninteresting song (not the film's fault, of course; in fact, two of the most memorable ones are originals created for the film, so they improved on some things there), or because Marshall's default formula of intersplicing the song with dialogue falls down (when it worked so seamlessly in Chicago
And despite an extremely impressive ensemble cast, most of them have very little to do. Judi Dench, Sophia Loren, Kate Hudson, Fergie and Nicole Kidman are all virtually walk-ons or scenery (I'm also pretty sure the movie manages to fail the Bechdel Test despite having seven headlining actresses with five Oscars between them). Penelope Cruz has more, but kind of drops out of the movie in a way that doesn't feel very resolved; she got an Oscar nomination for this (memorably described by one of the At the Movies
guys as a "punter nomination"), but while she's good, it's hard to see how anyone who actually watched the movie could nominate her over Marion Cotillard. Cotillard is, by far, the best thing about the movie, the only part that you can really connect to emotionally, and she has by far the best song, the climactic one (her first song is also one of the better ones).
The movie basically feels like Marshall trying to recreate his first and biggest critical success, but the bag of tricks he used there just doesn't fit this story, and the story itself never clicks. But many of my issues probably relate to the original product, so one can't lay all the blame with him.
Home Video: 53 (+1)