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'Nine' is a vibrant and provocative musical that follows the life of world famous film director Guido Contini as he reaches a creative and personal crisis of epic proportion, while balancing the numerous women in his life including his wife, his mistress, his film star muse, his confidant and costume designer, an American fashion journalist, the whore from his youth and his mother.
For more about Nine and the Nine Blu-ray release, see Nine Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 15, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Rob Marshall
Writers: Michael Tolkin, Anthony Minghella
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren, Kate Hudson
» See full cast & crew
Nine Blu-ray Review
This flashy musical earns a quality Blu-ray release from Sony.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 15, 2010
Have you run out of things to say?
It's always interesting when filmmakers turn the camera around and produce a movie centered on the filmmaking process itself, yielding something of an "art imitating life imitating the construction of art" picture that looks at the other side of the camera, and without the marketing-influenced construction of the modern-day behind-the-scenes home video special features. The most famous of these types of movies may very well be Federico Fellini's 8 1/2, a film about a famed director struggling to come up with an idea for his next project. Director Rob Marshall's (Chicago) Nine is a picture that's terribly similar in theme to Fellini's masterpiece (even going so far as to name its protagonist after Fellini's lead character), and it's also based on a play of the same name that debuted on Broadway in 1982 that was, yes, itself influenced by 8 1/2. Nine has connections --based on this, similar to that -- all over the map and that are more in number than most other pictures, so does the relative lack of originality hurt the picture, and just as importantly, will Nine work for viewers unfamiliar with either the stage play or Fellini's cherished masterpiece?
In 1965 Rome, famed Italian filmmaker Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood) is but a week away from the first day of the shoot for his next movie, Italia, for which he has no script and no ideas. A hounding press and an eager crew have no idea that their beloved director is fresh out of ideas, and Guido's midlife crisis isn't helping him to come up with anything, either. As he tries to find a starting point for the movie, he battles his own personal demons and juggles a variety of women both past and present that have in some way shaped his life and career. He dreams of his deceased mother (Sophia Loren), enjoys encounters with his mistress Carla (Penélope Cruz, Broken Embraces), succumbs to his female lead Claudia (Nicole Kidman, Days of Thunder), confides in his costumer Lilli (Judi Dench, Casino Royale), recalls the allure of a prostitute from his youth (Fergie, Planet Terror), battles the distractions of an American fan named Stephanie (Kate Hudson, Bride Wars), and fights to save his marriage to Luisa (Marion Cotillard, Public Enemies). No wonder he has writer's block.
Nine seemed a film with a tough row to hoe from its very inception. Recapturing the spirit of a successful Broadway play that starred the late Raul Julia in the lead role but also having to sell the picture to film aficionados that adore Fellini's 8 1/2, Director Rob Marshall took on a challenge that would seemingly, like the theme of the movie itself, prove a difficult task that might not even have a definitive jumping-in point. Fortunately, Marshall acquits himself well enough given all that's surrounding the picture, but Nine ultimately doesn't quite work as well as it might have under different circumstances. Nine comes across as somewhat meandering, even though the story is fairly straightforward and readily understood. There's a lot going on here -- a deluge of characters, plenty of sexy singing and dancing, and a somewhat dark tone that offers a fairly unique contrast to the lively physical and musical performances -- but little of it seems to jive together as coherently as it should; it's big, it's electric, it's beautiful, no doubt, but the substance isn't always there. Nine tells a good story but it ultimately relies more on flash and pizzazz, lingerie and seduction, and physical rather than mental stimulation. It works to a point; the women in the movie look great and the picture proves quite provocative, even within the constraints of its PG-13 rating.
Speaking of the picture's undeniable zest and underscored but not at all veiled eroticism, Nine's female cast members sometimes seem more like window dressing than substantive characters in the film. Some are better developed than others (Marion Cotillard's Luisa Contini and Judi Dench's Lilli), but juggling the sheer number of characters that in some way play a role on Guido's struggles sometimes seems overwhelming. Looking at it from a thematic perspective, however, it's easy to see why the film plays things as it does. Nine is a reflection of Guido's own take on his own life; it's not meant to be absolutely structured, sortable, and easy to follow. If it were, there wouldn't be a movie and Guido would be hard at working ironing out the final details of Italia. Nine is often a physical representation -- sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively -- of the inner-workings of Guido's mind as he reflects on all those women that have influenced him, loved him, aroused him, inspired him, and dragged him down to where he currently is, in a state of confusion and despair as he struggles to construct a film and keep his personal life on an even keel. It's an interesting thematic element to be sure, but it's not always as coherently realized as it should be, some of which is the fault of the film and some of which is an unavoidable aspect of the story.
Finally, Nine's musical numbers fall somewhere in the middle of the pack when compared against the standard-bearers of the genre; there are no surefire, memorable tunes here, and it's doubtful that the soundtrack will become a lasting classic among Musical aficionados. The songs are all performed admirably and most are suitably catchy, with Fergie's "Be Italian" arguably the best, both in terms of musical appeal and visual stimulation. An uptempo show-stopper in a traditional big-band style, the music is rhythmic and fun, and Fergie proves herself a sultry performer and the best of this show. Still, Nine just doesn't hold a candle the greats of the genre; movies like The Sound of Music, Singin' in the Rain, West Side Story, or even Rob Marshall's own Chicago all offer a better array of music both in terms of the quality of the performances, the appeal of the songs, and their ability to tell the story through music. Competent but far from commendable, entertaining but not endearing, lavish but not long-lasting, the music of Nine does well enough to support the themes of the movie and carry part the story, as is the case with any good musical, but this collection of songs seem better enjoyed in the moment as part of the film rather than as a detached experience separate from the film proper.
Nine Blu-ray, Video Quality
Nine features a good, but not exceptional, 1080p, 2.40:1-framed transfer. The movie is fairly dark throughout, never allowing for more than the occasional splashes of color, and even then, they often compete with the surrounding darkness and haze. Fortunately, Sony's transfer handles blacks rather well; they're fairly inky and honest, never overpowering, and rarely washed out or demonstrating a push towards a dark gray shade. The image sports good, nicely-rendered details, though like the colors, they are sometimes not quite as brilliant and strong thanks to the picture' darkened visual scheme. While wood, brick textures, and other rougher, more intricate surfaces are nicely detailed, faces can sometimes look a bit overly smooth and lacking in a more pronounced and lifelike level of detail, but this seems to stem more from, again, the film's deliberately dark texture rather than any kind of excessive smoothing, particularly considering the moderate layer of grain that's retained over the image. In that same category, the picture sometimes reverts to black-and-white, and such scenes are displayed with a far heavier layer of grain. Despite a few soft edges, Nine remains fairly sharp, and even distant objects often appear crisp and focused. Unfortunately, banding is a consistent issue throughout, predominantly seen in bright light sources shining into otherwise darkened areas of the screen. Nevertheless, Nine makes for a stable, steady, and quality image that's not among the most pristine available, but it's a satisfactory-or-better high definition image in every area.
Nine Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Nine belts out a reference-quality DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. This stunner of a presentation excels at every turn, delivering each nuance of this challenging material to sonic perfection. The track enjoys pinpoint clarity and exceptional dynamics throughout the presentation, whether in the more hushed moments or the powerfully rambunctious musical pieces that blare from every speaker with plenty of kick and precision. Indeed, these more aggressive musical numbers simply seem to swirl about the listener as the track manages to create what is perhaps a slightly over-pumped but certainly not in any way underwhelming experience as there's a total sense of engulfment into the tunes that seems to place the listener in the middle of the song and dance routines. A performance in chapter seven that features the heavy usage of tambourines manages to deliver both a loud and powerful presentation but also retain a sharpness and clarity throughout the range that gives the rattlesnake-like texture of the sound a fulfilling and realistic flavor. The track also delivers solid atmospherics, whether the slight ambience of a bustling office or the laughter, chatter, and flashbulb pops as heard during a press conference; no matter the type of scene, Nine's lossless soundtrack seems to capture each environment's sonic signature wonderfully and with a realism both subtle and more pronounced. Additionally, tight, clean, and never overwhelming bass supports the more potent songs, and dialogue reproduction is consistently crisp, sharp, and natural. Though the movie might be lacking, its songs sound absolutely fantastic in this top-rated soundtrack from Sony.
Nine Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Nine dances onto Blu-ray with a large assortment of extra content. First up is an audio commentary track with Director Rob Marshall and Producer John Deluca. A relaxed but informative listen, Marshall and Deluca convey a wealth of knowledge surrounding the movie, sharing their thoughts on the style of music, the themes of the story, the cast, the challenges of crafting a musical, shooting locations, and more. While there's plenty of standard "making of" banter, there's also a nice selection of more in-depth comments that look at the hows and whys behind the movie and its story. This is a worthwhile track. The Incomparable Daniel Day-Lewis (1080i, 5:12) is a basic back-patting piece that features cast and crew laying praise on the Oscar-winning actor. The Women of 'Nine' (1080i, 10:47), yes, looks at the casting of the female parts, with the revelation that the parts were cast before the script was written. The actresses and Marshall both speak on the quality of project; the various parts the women filled; and the quality of the women's' performances, both physically and musically. Director Rob Marshall (1080i, 6:27) is another piece, in the same vein as The Incomparable Daniel Day-Lewis, that lays the praise on the film's director.
Behind the Look of 'Nine' (1080i, 8:21) takes a short but rather strong look at the film's set design, lighting, and costuming, with an emphasis on the latter. The Dancers of 'Nine' (1080i, 4:39) features footage of the auditions for the various dancers that tried out for the supporting roles in the film, as well as interview clips with some of the hopefuls. Next up is The Choreography of 'Be Italian' (1080i, 4:16), a short segment that looks at not only the rehearsals for the number, but the set design, too. The Making of 'Cinema Italiano' (480p, 2:53) takes a brief look at the hard work behind Kate Hudson's song and her performance. The Choreography of 'Cinema Italiano' (1080i, 8:37) features a glimpse into the creation and implementation of the song into the film, as well as a glance at the choreography and Kate Hudson's performance. Sophia Loren Remembers Cinecitta Studios (1080i, 12:52) offers viewers a good interview piece with the Oscar-winning Italian actress as she speaks on her storied career. Screen Actors Guild Q&A (1080i, 43:14) features six of the cast members -- Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench, and Kate Hudson -- fielding questions from Pete Hammond. Also included are three music videos: "Cinema Italiano" featuring Kate Hudson (480p, 3:48), "Take it All" featuring Marion Cotillard (1080p, 3:41), and "Unusual Way" featuring Griffith Frank (480p, 3:41). Rounding out this package is BD-Live functionality; Sony's MovieIQ connectivity; and 1080p trailers for The Road, A Single Man, Extraordinary Measures, Not the Messiah, The Young Victoria, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, The Back-Up Plan, Dear John, An Education, and Michael Jackson's This is It.
Nine Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Nine proves a decent Musical that's overshadowed by a number of factors. The picture's closely-knit relationship with and similarities to a bona-fide classic instantly puts it in a hole, and Director Rob Marshall -- even armed with the massive success of his Oscar-winning Chicago -- can't pull the movie out, let alone allow it to consistently and firmly stand on its own two feet. An all-star cast is both a help and a hindrance, too; there are many recognizable faces here, but most do little more than sing a song and look good on the big screen. Finally, the picture's soundtrack -- the lifeblood of most any musical -- never really establishes itself as an upper-tier presentation. Nevertheless, Nine still works well enough to make for a passably enjoyable picture, but for fans of 8 1/2, it will only serve to rekindle the desire to see the Fellini film again, and for those that haven't seen that 1963 classic, there's no time better than before or after a viewing of Nine. Sony's Blu-ray release of Nine, no surprise, is a winner. The picture quality is stable, and the soundtrack proves a reference-grade presentation from beginning to end. Rounded out by a fine assortment of extras, Nine is definitely worth a rental alongside 8 1/2, but those that loved the film in theaters can buy with confidence.
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Nine Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Clips from Blu-ray Extras of Rob Marshall’s Nine - May 3, 2010
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made available several clips from the numerous featurettes included in the Blu-ray release of Rob Marshall's Nine, which streets tomorrow. This adaptation of a Broadway musical received four Academy Award nominations (Best Supporting ...
• Rob Marshall’s Nine Blu-ray Announced - March 8, 2010
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that, on May 4, it will release the Weinstein Company production Nine on Blu-ray. This adaptation of a Broadway musical, itself based on Federico Fellini's 8˝, garnered considerable buzz but fizzled at the box office. ...
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