Nine (2009) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Drama / Musical / Romance
Sony || PG13 - 119 minutes - $38.96 || May 4, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-04-29


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Rob Marshall
Writer(s): Michael Tolkin and Anthony Minghella (screenplay)
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Fergie, Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren


Theatrical Release Date: December 25, 2009


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • 9 Featurettes
  • 3 Music Videos
  • SAG Q&A
  • movieIQ
  • BD-Live


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

To start things off, I don’t have a big affinity for Federico Fellini’s 1963 classic although I know the majority adore it and for good reason, though when I first watched several years ago now, I wasn’t as in tuned, perhaps one day I’ll revisit it. In any case, nearly 30 years later a play called “Nine” was produced based in large part to Fellini’s film and written by Arthur Kopit. And now, another nearly 30 years later we get the film adaptation.

If you’ve seen you already know the basic story: director Guido Contini (DANIEL DAY LEWIS) is having a creative block with his latest ambitious project, ‘Italia’ after his last couple flicks were “flops”. Throughout the movie we see Guido confront and confronted by the numerous women in his life from his inspirational wife (MARION COTILLARD), his seductive mistress (PENELOPE CRUZ), a movie star/muse (NICOLE KIDMAN), a costume designer and confidante (JUDI DENCH), an American journalist (KATE HUDSON), a prostitute from his childhood (FERGIE) and his deceased mother (SOPHIA LOREN).

The rest of the film consists of Guido’s struggles to not only come up with a story for his latest film but also a journey of self-examination and trying the fight between his older self and the child inside that is the core of his creativity.

Having known nothing about the stage play and not having a connection with , I went into Nine with an open mind and a love of the modern musical. When you have someone like Rob Marshall directing another musical after Best Picture winner Chicago, I had some high hopes despite the critical shellacking the film received. And while it was not quite as bad as I had read – and I think many disliked it because of its origins – I also can’t say it’s a great musical either.

One problem is that when you have a musical one would hope that most of the songs were the least bit memorable. For all the criticism that Chicago has received over the years since winning at the Academy Awards, I can still hear and visualize most of the musical numbers and I haven’t even watched the movie in years. I can’t say the same for Nine sadly enough; save for two songs, “Be Italian” and “Cinema Italiano”. I don’t remember any of the other songs, and a big part of why they are so memorable is because of Fergie who deserved more attention than she got as well as Kate Hudson who has a fantastic voice.

Obviously the film features some talented leading ladies including the aforementioned Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Fergie and Golden Globe nominees Marion Cotillard and Penelope Cruz but the main subject Daniel Day-Lewis does his best... as always. Day-Lewis is sort of like Christian Bale in that for better or worse gets fully enveloped with every character he plays and it’s no different playing someone like Guido. And while maybe the story never comes together as it should have, it’s of no fault to the cast including Daniel Day-Lewis who does give it his all.

Overall, Nine isn’t the folly I had read about from critics but given I have no emotional investment in either the stage play or its inspiration, , I thought for the most part it was alright even if the musical numbers don’t have the pizzazz compared to Chicago. I’d say if you go into it with an open mind you might get more out of it than others have.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

All the features are presented in standard definition.

Feature Commentary – Producer/Director Rob Marshall and Producer John DeLuca sit down for an informative track going over some tidbits about making the film, casting the parts, the singing, dancing, etc. Personally, I would’ve preferred a commentary with the ladies of Nine but all in all it’s a decent track.

The Incomparable Daniel Day-Lewis (5:12) is a love fest on the talented star fully invested into the part of Guido. Members of the cast and crew talk about Day-Lewis and his commitment to the picture.

The Women of Nine (10:47) takes a look the major female cast members – including Fergie, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Penelope Cruz and Sophia Loren amongst others – who auditioned for the parts and how much they loved doing the movie.

Director Rob Marshall (6:27) – This takes a look at the producer/choreographer/director of Nine and his background from theater to Hollywood. Like the other featurettes we get comments from the cast and crew singing (well, talking) his praises (well deserved despite my reservations for the movie).

Behind the Look of Nine (8:21) featurette is about the costume and set designs, lighting and other elements in making a musical. It’s fairly mundane and would’ve been better suited, along with the other featurettes, placed into one long ‘making-of’ documentary.

The Dancers of Nine (4:39) is another short featurette that takes a look at all the background dancers featured in the film.

The Choreography of “Be Italian” (4:16) and The Choreography of “Cinema Italiano” (8:37) separate featurettes gives insight into how two memorable musical numbers were done with sound bites from the cast (Fergie and Kate Hudson) and crew (Rob Marshall, et al). Although again these would’ve been better served in a longer ‘making-of’, they are interesting to see how much work goes into getting these numbers done.

The Making of “Cinema Italiano” (2:53) is an expansion on the song giving us a behind the recording of the song.

Music Videos (3:48) – Three videos are included for “Cinema Italiano”, “Take it All” and “Unusual Way”.

There are also previews for other Sony titles: 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.

** BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVES **

movieIQ is Sony’s Blu-ray staple that gives you updated info on the various elements of the cast and crew while you watch the movie. I know some people find this useful but I can just use the Internet to get my info. Also on the downside, it takes a couple minutes just to load. The new feature is “sync” where you can get put together a playlist and have something about the songs (web content or something) e-mailed to you.

Sophia Loren Remembers Cinecitta Studios (12:52) – The veteran actress talks about working in Italy and inside the famous Cinecitta Studios and how her career began there.

Screen Actors Guild Q&A (43:14) – If you’ve seen the other SAG Q&As you know it’s primarily the main cast on stage answering some obvious questions, from critic Pete Hammond, about their parts, working with one another, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But it’s good to have something longer than a few minutes on the disc and you do get a little more insight into the project.

Last is a BD-Live portal where you can check out more ads for Sony titles.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Nine comes to Blu-ray presented in its original 2.40 aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition. While the video doesn’t exactly pop off the screen compared with some other newer releases, I still was impressed with it overall. The colors are good and detail levels fairly sharp with a discernable amount of natural grain to help. Where the picture doesn’t quite measure up is with the black levels. This is no doubt more on how it was shot than the actual transfer, however as artificially darkening it would’ve done more harm.

The disc also gets an effective DTS-HD Master Audio track that greatly serves the numerous musical numbers giving it some nice depth while dialogue levels and ambient noises were nice and clear throughout. This isn’t a track that I will immediately think of as upper echelon of lossless audio, but I was impressed.



.::OVERALL::.

I suspect the vast majority of the criticism lodged against Nine had to do with the source material and not so much the stage play but Fellini’s film. But if you go into it without that in mind, Nine is actually an OK musical. No, it’s not as good as Chicago nor does it have a rich supply of memorable songs or musical numbers but the cast all do a very good job.