Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Finally, Nine

or Cinema Italiano !

Nine finally made it to my local arts cinema - I don't think it made the local multiplex - and turned out to be a mixed bag. Some of the numbers were terrific: Judi Dench's "Folies Bergere" and Hudson's "Cinema Italiano" - all snappy editing. The mid section though with Nicole Kidman and Day Lewis walking around (shades of Ekberg and Mastroianni in LA DOLCE VITA ?) seemed intermindable and just dull. All the flashy editing and running around couldn't disguise the hollowness at the core of this - and I like Fellini's ! I did not care for Marshall's CHICAGO much either and this - despite the cast of the year - seemed more of the same. One barely saw Loren, who wasn't really photographed that well, but Penelope Cruz and Marion Cotillard certainly both delivered, and it was great to see Dench out of her "Cranford" bonnets and having a change from bossing James Bond around! Not much made of the scenery or Italian backgrounds. Guido Contini, as played by Day-Lewis, remains a charmless heel [the New York Times refer to him as a "jerk"] - would Banderas or Bardem have been better?
Nine though is one of those films that look great on paper - all those award-winners!, a mix of and ALL THAT JAZZ- but in the end, it just didn't work for me. One puzzle is that both Anouk Aimee and Claudia Cardinale from the original Fellini 8½ are still around and working - why not have included them? It's a movie that sophisticates in the big cities will rush to - there's a sweeping generalisation! - but I can't see the kids in the multiplexes getting it .... good though to see Penelope Cruz nominated again, she is startlingly real in her breakdown, and one forgets that Judi Dench can sing - she was the UK's original Sally Bowles in 1968, and a perfect Desiree in that National Theatre A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC a decade or so ago.

50 years ago when I was 14 I used to love going to see Sophia Loren in films like IT STARTED IN NAPLES and THE MILLIONAIRESS (which I went to two nights in a row...) so it was rather nice to go to see a film with Sophia Loren now in 2010 - if only she had something intresting to do in it. Rex Reed's review may go over the top, but I agree with a lot of it: Or as our "The Times" puts it: "Torture has a new name and its called 'Nine'. For there are few more agonising experiences this holiday season than squirming through the painfully misfired ambitions of this star-studded Rob Marshall musical".

It has though made me want to re-watch some real Italian films from Cinecitta in the mid-60s like that brace of De Sica/Loren/ Mastroianni's like YESTERDAY TODAY & TOMORROW and MARRIAGE ITALIAN STYLE, Visconti's brooding SANDRA with Claudia Cardinale at her peak, or the frisky farce of LE BAMBOLE with Lollobrigida and Vitti having fun.

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