Sunday, December 27, 2009

NINE gets 8 1/2

I've been following the press and awaiting the Christmas release of NINE. In preparation for seeing the film, I wondered if the film comparatively would stand up to or equal Chicago or Moulin Rouge? Midway through viewing the film, I realized the answer to my question would be No... however, by the end of the film, I too realized I had became too quick in judging or comparing it with either of those earlier films. NINE certainly stands on it's own merit, looking and feeling like a gritty foreign film and not just another flashy song and dance musical. NINE also tips the hat to it's long running stage version... and it does both extremely well.

The film's best song goes to Kate Hudson's performance of "Cinema Italiano". Hudson is delightful in the wonderful and playful role as Stephanie, an opinionated film critic for Vogue Magazine. Her center stage song number is truly fab and extremely well presented with lavish colorful sets paired with gorgeous black and white Italian film references. "Be Italian", Fergie's Saraghina number runs a very close second. As good as the songs are, my biggest criticism for this musical would be that the songs are less memorable those of the prior blockbusters mentioned. However, the combination of the songs and choreography, storyline, and the beautiful creative cinematography hold the film together nicely.

Daniel Day Lewis was a phenomenal choice for Guido Contini and Lewis pours himself into the character. Judy Dench was a perfect pick for Lilli, as was Penelope Cruise for the sexy and sensual Carla. Sophia Loren as Mamma, the mother and influence on the young Guido, really worked for me. Casting her in the film is certainly a tribute to her era of stardom as well as to the heyday of 50s and 60s European cinema. Well done, Mr. Marshall.

The art direction and visuals were perfect for the big screen... truly sensual, inspiring, and greatly artistic. As an artist, I was drawn to the creative direction of the film and I also saw a bit of myself as I watched Guido attempt to balance his creative genius with his day-to-day life. While Chicago and Moulin Rouge may have been better entertainment films, NINE clearly holds it's own. As an artist, I found a great message in NINE and especially in it's artistry. Past inspirations are always grounded in the artist' soul... even when reinventing himself. NINE works for me.

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