“What would you like to see that I haven’t already shown you?”
The Scoop: 2009, PG-13, directed by Rob Marshall and starring Daniel Day Lewis, Marion Cotillard, and Penelope Cruz
Tagline: This holiday season, be Italian
Summary Capsule: A pretentious and annoying director ruminates on how terrible it is to be famous and a genius, all while drooling over (and a lot more) women. What? What makes you think I didn’t like it?
Lissa’s rating: I have never been this close to walking out of a musical movie before. I only stayed because I needed to write this review.
Lissa’s review: Sometimes, the awards people get all hyped up about something, and I totally get it. Like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was amazing visually, had good acting all around, took an excellent book and actually improved it by showing us the pages upon pages of description rather than making us wade through, and was actually popularly LIKED. Or Schindler’s List, which was heartbreaking, poignant, amazingly written and acted, and just basically perfect. Or Amadeus. Sometimes, they get hyped up over something, and I don’t totally get it, but hey – it was a good movie. Like Mystic River, which was pretty excellent but not my Favorite Movie Ever. Or Good Will Hunting, which was some fantastic writing, and otherwise good, but not life-changing. Or As Good As It Gets.
Then, there are days the awards people get all hyped up over something and I don’t get it at all. The Piano. (UGH!) The English Patient. (YAWN.) Crash. (It was okay, but really? Better than some of the other movies that year?) And now, goodie, we can add Nine to the list.
I love musicals. I mean, I truly adore them, and I thank good ol’ Baz from the bottom of my heart for Moulin Rouge! bringing this genre back to the movie screen. I ran out to see Chicago, I was right there for Mamma Mia!, and let’s face it — you’re going to have to go a long, long way to top the music from South Park. I love Rent, and I desperately wish they’d make a movie version of Wicked and Les Mis (the musical). Music generally improves everything, although I would note that certain actors shouldn’t sing. (Pierce Bronson, I’m looking at you.) From TV shows to movies, it’s rare for me not to adore a musical.
And hey, yeah. The musical numbers of Nine were the best part of the movie. However, that’s not necessarily a compliment.
I didn’t know much about Nine when I ventured out to the movie theater. I knew that it had something to do with Italy. I knew it was directed by Rob Marshall, who directed Chicago. I knew that one of the guys I knew in high school and who I’m friends with on Facebook didn’t care for either the stage version or the movie version. And I was vaguely aware a lot of famous people might be in it. But I had a day to go to the movies, and I figured my wonderful husband would have no interest in seeing Nine. I was right. When he got the chance to go to the movies, he gravitated towards Sherlock Holmes. Guess who got the better deal? (Hint: it wasn’t me.)
The famous people are Daniel Day Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson, Fergie, Dame Judi Dench, Sophia Loren, and Marion Cotillard. And really, I have no beef with any of them. Their performances ranged from competent to outstanding, and the acting – and even the singing – is really pretty decent. I don’t particularly think that any of it is Oscar-worthy, but it’s also not Razzie worthy, and I can respect that. So, they’re off the hook. And hey – in a musical, that’s saying something.
So what was my problem? Let’s start with the base show. The whole story is about an Italian director (that would be Guido Contini, played by Daniel Day Lewis) who is having trouble with his next movie. Through the movie he draws on his muses, seven women who have somehow had influence on his life at various points in time. (First of all, why seven? I realize the titular nine refers to the fact that this is Guido’s ninth film, but nine muses, right? Oh well – if there had been two more, the movie would have dragged on EVEN LONGER, and I’m really not sure I could have handled that.) But the annoying this is, this guy totally uses women. He is a complete jerk who seems to only think with his libido, and I just couldn’t stand the main character. Not a good start.
The songs themselves are very boring, to be honest. Normally, after a musical, I walk out of a theater singing one of the songs. This can be a little embarrassing when the musical is South Park, and the song is sung by Terrance and Phillip, but you can’t say that the South Park songs don’t get stuck in the head. You CAN say that about the Nine songs, though. They just are not memorable, and they’re very flat and, well, boring.
Boring is bad enough. Boring and pretentious and a little too artsy, and characters that, for the most part, I just didn’t like. But for some reason, I found Nine incredibly misogynistic.
I really don’t know what it was, because I’m not good at articulating this kind of thing. Worse, some of the things I hated in Nine I liked in Chicago. (Oh, yeah – that was another thing. Recycle much, Rob Marshall?) There was just something about it that seemed to objectify women, making the majority of their purpose sexual — or more accurately, making their entire purpose based around a man’s version of their sexuality. Or something. Look, I’m not a graduate in feminist studies, and I have a tendency to screw this sort of stuff up, so let me leave it at this:
I would have liked Nine a lot better if guys got to dance around in their underwear, too.
To top it off, I think I liked and respected two of the women. Maybe. It just… ugh, the whole thing rubbed me the wrong way. It was arty and pretentious and boring and condescending, and I promise you, I will never watch it again of my own free will.
The next time I went to the movies, I did see Sherlock Holmes, and believe me, I was a much happier woman.
- The number Nine refers to Fellini’s 8 1/2, which was his ninth movie (he directed 7 on his own and co-directed one other). Also, the number 9 refers to the age young Guido is in the flashback.
- Sorry, I’m not coming up with anything else for this section. Frankly, I was half asleep.
Liliane La Fleur: Directing a movie is a very overrated job, we all know it. You just have to say yes or no. What else do you do? Nothing. “Maestro, should this be red?” Yes. “Green?” No. “More extras?” Yes. “More lipstick?” No. Yes. No. Yes. No. That’s directing.
Luisa Contini: Thank you for reminding me I’m not special. You don’t even see what you do to me. Even the moments I think are ours, it’s just… you working to get what you want.
Stephanie: What would you say the limit to what you could show in movies these days is?
Guido Contini: What would you like to see that I haven’t already shown you?
If You Liked This Movie, Try:
- Lost in Translation