By Mark Ramsey | 2009/12/26

I would have reported to you about the musical Nine sooner, but I had to blow into the hospital to have sequin shrapnel surgically removed from my chest.

I don’t know about you, but when I think “frothy musical song-and-dance confection,” the name “Daniel Day Lewis” instantly pops into my mind!

Was it the frothy, song-and-dance numbers of There Will Be Blood or Gangs of New York? The puritanical musical stylings of The Crucible? Maybe it was the one-legged high-stepping of My Left Foot or the unbearable lightness of The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Never mind, Daniel Day Lewis is musical theater!

Assuming musical theater is about to start screaming something about oil.

Nine is set in 1965 in the Italy where women wear only garters and boas and men wear only women and cigarettes.

This sounds like a job for Sophia Loren!  Cue Sophia, who last appeared on the big screen when dinosaurs roamed outside the lobby.  “Gene Kelly had Xanadu; I have Nine,” said Sophia.

What brings Sophia back to the big screen after all this time – besides a phalanx of makeup and hair professionals and more than a little digital nipping and tucking?  “It’s my chance to play a character who is invisible,” said Sophia.  “Invisibility is as strong an attraction for me as working with E.L.O. was for Gene Kelly.”

“Invisibility is the natural outcome of a face which is lifted into itself one time too many,” she added.

Sophia’s scenes are so dreamy I’m left to wonder which perfume this two-hour commercial is for.

Penelope Cruz is in love with Daniel Day Lewis, and if those words don’t turn off the youth audience, I don’t know what will.  On second thought, how about this:  Dame Judi Dench singing with a boa on top of a piano.

No, I’m not kidding.  What is this, her one woman show, “Songs in the Key of M?”  I think I saw the boa trying to slink away mid-tune and hide amidst the flowers, which were wilting all across the Italian countryside.

Said director Rob Marshall, “Judi’s is the oldest bust ever to be on a piano that didn’t belong to a composer.”

I’ll need my fishnet goggles for the rest of this scene, thank you very much.

Penelope Cruz is Daniel’s mistress, and she awaits his return in her hotel room:

“I’ll be waiting for you with my legs open,” she says.

“Good,” he replies.  “Because your hours aren’t posted, and I need to schedule ahead to have the cigarette carved from my lip.”

There are a fair number of sleepy ballads in Nine – no wonder I started counting sheep; and I don’t mean the critics who liked this movie.

Enter Kate Hudson, who says “style is the new content,” and if ever a phrase fit its movie, that’s it.  Kate took a precious few weeks away from her regular job as Matthew McConaughey’s movie girlfriend to shake her thing and sing some memorable lyrics like: “Those scenes I love to see / with Guido’s POV.”

“Those scenes I love to see / with Guido’s POV”?!

And so the show-tune singing, scantily clad, dancing Italian harlots hoist Daniel Day Lewis over their heads as they hunt for Sunday Mass and a good pot of sauce.

Nine is a movie about not making a movie, and not making it without a script.  And while it’s not being made Fergie and Kate and Penelope are mostly not wearing clothes.  And Daniel is mostly not screaming about oil when he’s not moving and bathed in a light that is not any color besides blue.  So there you have it, plenty of reasons not to go.

Nine is a musical, all right, a musical test of endurance.  Gaze on as a variety of stars perch in rafters like bats.

Come to think of it, maybe Nicole Kidman would be better if she talked less and used echo-location more.

“Echo-location is the only way I can recognize my children,” she admits, as she and Penelope settle in for a chat to discuss what it must be like to sleep with Tom Cruise.

“I wonder….” said Penelope.


7 Responses to “Nine”

  1. Steve says:

    Don’t drink their milk shake. See 8 1/2!


    Mark Ramsey Reply:

    Since it’s European, shouldn’t it be called “8.5″?


  2. zonkiethegreat says:

    And you will be cast up and thrown in the dirt and thrust back to Perdition!!! And as long as I have teeth I will bite you!!! And if I have no teeth, I will gum you. And as long as I have fists, I will bash you, now get out of here ghost! Get out of here ghost, get out of here ghost… and it left!

    Oops. Sorry but I thought Eli was the best character in “There Will be Blood”.

    Anyways, I will probably catch “Nine” on some “2 for $9.99″ special next to Moulin Rouge in some Blockbuster bin one day. Just to watch the singing and the dancing and jiggling of body parts.


    Mark Ramsey Reply:

    I don’t recall that much jiggling, actually. That’s the problem with ballads.


  3. Mary London says:

    Once again had to pick myself up off the floor for laughing so hard at your review’s Mark! Love the Dame Judi comments, I myself have avoided this movie like a room full of Swine Flu. Still love the Sherlock Holmes review too – Robert Downey and the blow priceless! Absolutely love your site, its the realist thing in Hollywierd – happy new year darlin!! xxxxxxx


  4. Steve says:

    After only recently becoming interested in Fellini films, I was hoping NINE would motivate me to watch more. I doubt that any would entertain me more than this review!

    “Was it the frothy, song-and-dance numbers of There Will Be Blood or Gangs of New York?”

    Thanks, Mark. I also enjoyed your review of Magnolia, from Jan 2000.


    Mark Ramsey Reply:

    Steve, that’s two you like in ten years!

    See you again in 2019!

    Thanks for reading and commenting!


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