Nine: Make it a double feature.

Company:The Weinstein Company
Director:Rob Marshall
Starring:Daniel Day Lewis
Judi Dench
Marion Cotillard
Penelope Cruz
Sophia Loren
Kate Hudson
Nicole Kidman
Stacy Ferguson

        To date I have seen three films by the late Italian director, Federico Fellini. Those films are “Amacord”, “Satyricon”, and “8½”. A modern retelling of “8½”, and tribute to Fellini, was brought to the musical stage as the Broadway production, “Nine”. The movie “Nine” is the screen version of this Broadway Musical. So, if you're planning to see “Nine”, then I highly recommend that you see “8½” first. Now I know that, to some, this is a pretty tall order, kind of like a movie with a homework assignment, especially considering that “8½” is a subtitled art film. However, I don't think that you can truly appreciate “Nine” without recognizing the thought which went into it. Or better stated as a musical analogy, you can't recognize the art in the variation without first knowing the original theme. But if you do take the time to see “8½” first, unless you are a complete Fellini purist, you're likely to find yourself much more impressed than you otherwise would have been when you see “Nine”. Plus, and this can't be overstated, you will have seen “8½”.

        Director Rob Marshall, as he did with “Chicago”, brings “Nine” to the screen. In doing so, he shows us that some big name actors and actresses actually have a set of pipes. Daniel Day Lewis plays Guido Contini, famous Italian film director whose creative well has run dry. His new film, “Italia”, is to start production and he is overcome with panic because he does not yet have a script. As the deadline approaches the demands from himself, his crew, his producer, and the women in his life become more immediate, and he retreats more into his own head, away from his work, and into comfort of those women, whom he relates to almost solely as archetypes. Marion Cotillard plays Luisa Contini, his wife who can accept her husband's artistic nature as long as she doesn't have to confront his infidelities. Cotillard is almost a shocking dead ringer for Anouk Aimée who played in the original role. Penelope Cruz plays Carla, Guido's steady mistress and yin to Louisa's yang. Sofia Loren, who incidentally appeared in none of Fellini's films, plays Guido's overbearing, yet still dead, mother. Judi Dench plays Lilli, the costumer, wardrobe mistress, and sexually safe, aged confidant for Guido's productions. Nicole Kidman plays Claudia, Guido's preferred leading lady who is uncomfortable with the role and responsibility of being his muse. Kate Hudson plays Stephanie, American journalist and hopeful Guido groupie. Finally, Stacy Ferguson plays Saraghina, a feral prostitute from Guido's youth who lived on the beach and who was Guido's first exposure to woman as both taboo and desirable sexual being.

        The things which “Nine” brings to the table of “8½” are a happier ending and song. While most of the songs are standard Broadway fare, a few are standouts, most notably Fergie/Saraghina's “Be Italian”, Hudson/Stephanie's “Cinema Italiano”, and Cotillard/Louisa's “Take It All”. Additionally Dench/Lilli's “Folies Bergere” and Loren/Mamma's “Guarda La Luna” are worth seeing just for the talent which carries these songs.

        I, myself, am not a huge fan of musicals, and I only go to Broadway if my wife drags me. However, I am a fan of the film which “Nine” pays tribute to, although I'm not a purist about it. So I liked "Nine", even though I know that both it and “8½” are not for everyone and even though I think that it is incomplete without “8½”. All of which being said, “Nine” was completely free of any of the usual, annoying Hollywood Marxist message. Bravo!

Hollywood, STFU Rating: 0 Hammer and Sickles