Aloha and allow me to welcome myself back to my own blog after my holiday induced absence.
I was contemplating writing about New Year’s Resolutions in this blog but I thought that I’d break the mould of every other blogger, vlogger, twitterer and human being out there with an internet connection and a big mouth and talk about something else instead.
As most of you know, I adore films. In fact, with some of my friends I talk of little else but films, actors, directors, Oscars, trailers, future films, themes found in films, the impact of films on modern society and its reflection back into the films themselves and I get carried away pretty easily as you can see.
When I see a film which makes the boast of having Daniel Day-Lewis as a member of its cast, I become rather excited and make sure that I get to see the film somehow. Those of you familiar with his repertoire will know that he is an Oscar gobbler and quite deservedly so. The reason for this may have something to do with him hiding away and only coming out of his cave when he reads a script he really loves, but that’s another story.
So when I saw that Mr Day-Lewis was appearing in Nine, I looked at it a bit closer and found that the cast is one of the most star studded things since Ocean’s 13. Judi Dench, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, and Kate Hudson simply waltz into this film as if there’s nothing particularly odd about having so much talent under one roof. Sure, you might not like, or might not have heard of some of the actresses on that list but just realise that only one person out of those six I have mentioned has not won an Oscar for best actor/actress and she was nominated for one.* Thus with such an impressive cast list, great things were expected of Nine.
The other thing which made me smile with glee was the fact that Nine is a musical. There are lots of things that will inspire me to go and watch a film but I think Daniel Day-Lewis, Judi Dench and a musical all put together takes the biscuit as being the most attractive film ever. Well, in theory anyway.
If I’m honest, I didn’t know that all those actors could sing. Call me an idiot and a prize fool but I’d forgotten that Marion Cotillard’s Oscar was for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in ‘La Vie En Rose’ just two years ago. I’d forgotten that Nicole Kidman had a UK Christmas Number One hit a few years ago and that she was a main character in ‘Moulin Rouge’. I didn’t know that the woman with the catchiest song in the film was from the Black Eyed Peas (mind you, being a member of the Black Eyed peas doesn’t mean that she can sing in my book. Thankfully, she dazzled me with the power of her voice in the film). Obviously The Big D and Judi have been professionally voice trained (and I’d hazard a guess that Kate H and Penelope Cruz also fall into this bracket) so that singing is a relative walk in the park for them.
The film takes place in Italy during the height of Italian cinema – the era of Frederico Fellini – and Italian means the height of fashion. Guido Contini (Day-Lewis) is a massively successful director who is working of his ninth film. The problem is, he doesn’t have a script nor the faintest clue what it’s going to be about. His wife (Cotillard), previously a source of inspiration has become sidelined for his mistress (Cruz) who makes his mind wander off track. With his muse, the internationally renowned actress Claudia Nardi (Kidman) arriving in town, Guido hopes that he can draw some inspiration from her, much to the chagrin of his assistant (Dench).
I loved the film from the word go. I must admit that I lost faith in the middle but then I noticed a few tips of the hat to Fellini’s ‘La Dolce Vita’**. These hat tips became head nods, which in turn became a full blown homage to ‘La Dolce Vita’. If you haven’t seen it, I’d definitely recommend that you try to get hold of it before you watch Nine as I think that it really enhances the whole enjoyment of the film.
Not that the film is hard to enjoy – quite the opposite. I loved the songs, especially those with Marion Cotillard, Fergie and Kate Hudson.
However, one thing I noticed (and so did Empire) is that there is a lack of any really notable tunes throughout the film. Sure the songs are fantastic, but I can’t see any of them becoming as famous ‘All That Jazz’ from Chicago for instance.
Overall, I found it to be a brilliantly composed film with excellence in every scene, and although I wasn’t particularly left wanting more, I still felt as if there was something missing. I’d recommend you see this if you like musicals, retro Italian cinema or are a great fan of Daniel Day-Lewis though I fear that the film’s greatness might be lost if you don’t fall into any of these categories.
*Kate Hudson was nominated in 2000 for Best Supporting Actress in the film ‘Almost Famous’. She lost out (along with Judi Dench, Frances McDormand and Julie Walthers) to Marcia Gay Harden for her role in ‘Pollock’.
** La Dolce Vita was a hugely influential film in the 60s. From it we get our word paparazzi and the desire to wear large sunglasses all the time.
Ok, so it’s Sesame Street again. I don’t care. It’s funny.