Oh yeah, the ‘Nine’ embargo lifted…

Posted by · 10:18 am · December 4th, 2009

(from left) Daniel Day-Lewis and Nicole Kidman in NineIt’s one of those things when you show a film early and hold everyone to an embargo for a number of weeks.  I imagine there are people like me who run out of the passion and desire to write about some films, and over the last few weeks, “Nine” has been that film for me.

I discussed the film, of course, with Anne in last week’s Oscar Talk and I think I said most of what I would write anyway.  I will say that I’m probably 99.9% in agreement with what David Poland has written, especially his thoughts on casting, Marion Cotillard’s final number being one of the few moments of actual emotion in the film, the detriment of a central character’s frivolous motives and desires, etc.

Oscars?  I think what you see in the sidebar, for the most part.  I saw the SAG go wild for it, but I also know this is a film that could run into trouble when it comes to resonating.  So a month from now, would the applause be so grand?  I don’t know.  Marshall could run into trouble with the directors, unless they just feel like honoring him for knowing how to stage a number (keyword: stage).  Day-Lewis could miss.  Dench could slide in over Cruz, given the more interesting throughline she represents for the main character, etc.

Below the line, of course, nods all the way across.  But it’s a real question mark about how this film will ultimately settle when the high of the music is long gone and people are left with their thoughts on what they just saw, and whether it has the substance to keep reminding them.  We’ll see.

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29 responses so far

  • 1 12-04-2009 at 10:25 am

    JJ said...

    I feelm like my reaction to NINE, and subsequent liking/loving of it depends on a lot of factors BEFORE I even see it.

    I LOVE musicals.
    I LOVE most of the actors involved.
    And I’m a HUGE lover of scintillating technicals (cinematography, art direction, costumes, hair, make-up, sound, music).

    So, I figure, lack of depth, lack of emotional resonance, I may at least like (if not love) it despite itself.

    Anyone else getting that feeling?

  • 2 12-04-2009 at 10:28 am

    JJ said...

    That’s not to say I don’t love well made, riveting, rich, unpretentious drama.

    I’m just saying, great performances and a grea looking film goes a long way with me if the script/narrative isn’t as strong.

  • 3 12-04-2009 at 10:33 am

    Hero said...

    Am I the only one a little depressed now by the state of the Best Actor race? With so many strong male performances, it seems kind of sad that most folks are still predicting DDL and Morgan Freeman in spite of lukewarm reviews.

  • 4 12-04-2009 at 10:36 am

    Ivan said...

    Hmmm this makes me ask whether the pictures over every category are the predicted winners or just random?

    I have a hard time believing you would think Nine is the probable victor of best picture.

  • 5 12-04-2009 at 10:38 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I’ve never said they were anything but random. After all, I never even officially predicted a set of winners until a few weeks ago.

  • 6 12-04-2009 at 10:39 am

    Rob said...

    I felt the same way going in, JJ. Even knowing it wasn’t necessarily going to be huge on SUBSTANCE, I still went in last night quite excited.

    It was a mess. It has moments, obviously — “Be Italian,” even if entirely misconceived visually, is incredibly rousing, and Cotillard and Day-Lewis do very strong work — but I was surprised how flat most of it felt.

    It doesn’t even offer enough of the entertainment/razzle-dazzle to coast on to make up for the lack of substance — most of these numbers aren’t big, splashy, fun sequences; they’re character songs, and considering the songs don’t reveal much about the characters (or Guido, for that matter), they just get boring after a while.

    I enjoyed myself intermittently, but it unquestionably falls down in the ‘disappointment’ column for me.

  • 7 12-04-2009 at 10:49 am

    JFK said...

    “But it is an episodic mess of movie. And for no good reason.” This is very precise.

    I hate to say I told you so Kris…

  • 8 12-04-2009 at 10:50 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    JFK: It’s not as if I was doubting you.

  • 9 12-04-2009 at 10:51 am

    evelyn garver said...

    Mr. Tapley, one of your fellow Oscar commentators makes the point that since NINE seems to be getting raves in the UK, perhaps BAFTA nominations will help its Oscar chances. Also, does anyone doubt that the Globes will love it? I love everyone in the cast and can’t believe it will be worse than MOULIN ROUGE.

  • 10 12-04-2009 at 10:51 am

    JJ said...

    Okay, Rob. Thanks for the input. Hope my lowered expectations help.

  • 11 12-04-2009 at 11:11 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I think those referring to an ecstatic critical reception in the UK are jumping the gun a bit. So far we have two very positive reviews from credible papers (the Daily Mail hardly counts), neither one written by their regular critics.

  • 12 12-04-2009 at 11:28 am

    red_wine said...

    The US reviews are pretty awful at the moment. Poland tore it apart limb-for-limb. Only Variety seemed pleased.

    But still I think SAG members would not be able to bring themselves to not nominate it for Best Ensemble acting. And in spite of the bad reviews he’s getting, people think Lewis is great in all roles so even that nomination can happen.

  • 13 12-04-2009 at 11:34 am

    Mike said...

    The lack of plot which is precisely the point of NINE (and 8 1/2) will probably leave a lot of people baffled. But its the nature of the beast – its a stream of consciousness tale of a man who can’t find a plot in his life or for his film – and the fantasy aspects of both films is an intellectual / emotional exploration of that (Poland clearly misses the boat when he complains the musical numbers don’t further the plot = they never did on stage either).

    Its a tough sell for people who may be expecting CHICAGO’s very satisfying story structure.

    I for one really enjoyed the film. I imagine audiences will be divided much as they would be if you were to try to ask them to enjoy the original Fellini film that inspired this one.

  • 14 12-04-2009 at 11:46 am

    evelyn garver said...

    In regard to red-wine’s comments, Mr. Lewis is Jerry. The two-time Oscar winner is Day-Lewis. Daniel Day -Lewis.

  • 15 12-04-2009 at 11:50 am

    geha714 said...

    Nine is starting to fail. GOOD!

  • 16 12-04-2009 at 12:17 pm

    Encore Entertainment said...

    I get faintly annoyed that people are criticsing Nine for being episodic, I wonder if it wasn’t a musical and was still vaguely non linear in form if people would still call it a giant music video. Because as true to form as it is, based on the Broadway play it’s a successful adaptation. I suppose if you didn’t know what the musical was like, fine, but what’s the issue with that? Eh, whatever. Everyone can’t love everything.

  • 17 12-04-2009 at 12:21 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Mike: It works with abstract cinema like 8 1/2, but not as well with something trying to be a bit more sincere like this musical. And it’s the way the musical sequences were staged that keeps tossing bumps in the stream-of-consciousness road, I think. But we’ve talked about this…

  • 18 12-04-2009 at 1:01 pm

    Me. said...

    I’m dissapointed. “Nine” is one of my most anticipated films of the year, and I expected it to be HUGE.

    Thus, having seen “8 1/2”, I don’t understand why people are complaining that the musical numbers aren’t forwarding the story. In the first place, “8 1/2” doesn’t have a mainstream, straightforward story. It is a film about a filmmaker struggling to find inspiration for his new film and having hallucinations in different parts of his life and dreams that reflect his psychological conditions. The surreal sequences in that film weren’t about forwarding a story, they were made in order for the audience to see Guido’s state of mind, his feelings.

    If “Nine”‘s musical sequences have this same goal, I think I’ll still love the film. If they fail… then I’ll be more than dissapointed.

    At least Poland gives raves to Penélope Cruz and Marion Cotillard and is rooting for them to be nominated. They’re my two favorite actresses of the decade.

  • 19 12-04-2009 at 2:00 pm

    mark said...

    The Academy love dench and day lewis and i think they r your oscar bets with cruz getting in or farmiga i always thought it would be 2 nine girls or 2 up in the air girls plus monique plus either morton or moore.

  • 20 12-04-2009 at 2:10 pm

    Morgan said...

    Is it safe to assume that Daniel Day-Lewis is not a lock for Best Actor nom now?

    Perhaps… leaving room for a dark-horse?

  • 21 12-04-2009 at 3:02 pm

    aspect ratio said...

    At least with Day-Lewis and Freeman not being the slamdunk locks most of us more or less expected, this opens up for an actual race with Damon and Renner. All seven of them could certainly be nominated at the Golden Globes as well (Damon and Day-Lewis in C/M, the rest in Drama), and if then the BFCA and SAG picks show a bit of variety it could be very open even on Oscar nominations morning. Here’s hoping!

  • 22 12-04-2009 at 5:21 pm

    Rob said...

    “Thus, having seen “8 1/2″, I don’t understand why people are complaining that the musical numbers aren’t forwarding the story. In the first place, “8 1/2″ doesn’t have a mainstream, straightforward story. It is a film about a filmmaker struggling to find inspiration for his new film and having hallucinations in different parts of his life and dreams that reflect his psychological conditions. The surreal sequences in that film weren’t about forwarding a story, they were made in order for the audience to see Guido’s state of mind, his feelings.”

    It seems a lot of people who want “Nine” to be great, but haven’t seen it, don’t seem to understand that the tone here could not be FURTHER than “8 1/2.” Here, there IS the attempt to have some kind of forward narrative, and the tone is very distinctly ‘melodrama,’ so this ‘not-moving-the-story-forward’ thing doesn’t quite gel.

    Also, more than a handful of the songs end up coming off as nothing but throwaways (which wasn’t really the case in the stage production), and at that, throwaways that aren’t particularly (a) entertaining, or (b) illuminating about the women singing them, or what they mean to Guido.

    Dench’s and Hudson’s numbers did nothing but make me go (a) “wow, they can sing pretty well” and (b) “what the fuck am I — or the movie — getting out of this song?”

  • 23 12-04-2009 at 5:37 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    All those who seem surprised at Dench’s singing ability might be interested to know that she played Sally Bowles in the first West End run of “Cabaret” back in the 60s. This is nothing new for her.

  • 24 12-04-2009 at 5:42 pm

    Rob said...

    It’s not a question of it being “new for her.” It’s those pipes still being intact 40 years later, at the age of 75.

  • 25 12-04-2009 at 6:18 pm

    Morgan said...

    Matt Damon is one of the dark horses? The Informant didn’t really set the world on fire…

  • 26 12-04-2009 at 8:16 pm

    Anonymous said...

    I know it’s early, but has anyone yet noticed that with 7 reviews, the rottentomatoes score is at 43%? 4.9/10 average. That’s pretty dismal.

  • 27 12-04-2009 at 8:23 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Morgan: No, but a number of people (myself included) think it’s career-best work from Damon. He’s in the mix.

  • 28 12-05-2009 at 8:58 am

    average joe said...

    As someone who greatly disliked the staginess of a lot of Chicago’s numbers, I’m kind of dreading seeing this after Kris’ comments regarding Marshall’s direction (though this was pretty evident in the trailers).

    Kris, so is it almost literally a mash up of 8 1/2 and Chicago like the trailers suggest?

    I don’t know what it is about Marshall, but his first two films hooked me in so well in the first twenty or so minutes, and then I gradually lost interest by the end.

  • 29 12-05-2009 at 2:15 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Yeah, I guess that’s fair enough.

    And I second everything Rob said.