Nine Lives (2005)
|Year Of Production||2005|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Rodrigo García|
Robin Wright Penn
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Rodrigo Garcia received considerable critical acclaim for his 2000 film Ten Things You Can Tell by Looking at Her. In Nine Lives the writer/director once again examines the lives of women, but not with the same success.
Garcia here presents to us nine separate vignettes, some of which have common characters. The director has employed a huge cast, which performs with varying degrees of success. Best are Robin Wright Penn , Jason Isaacs and William Fichtner, excellent as a hearing-impaired groom, and worst is the normally superb Sissy Spacek paired with an almost unrecognizable Aidan Quinn. Other actresses featured include Lisa Gay Hamilton, Amanda Seyfried, Holly Hunter, Molly Parker, Dakota Fanning, Glenn Close, Amy Brenneman, Mary Kay Place and Kathy Baker, with male support coming from Miguel Sandoval, Stephen Dillane, Ian McShane and Joe Mantegna. Just having so many notable performers on the screen ensures that each sequence is, at the very least, interesting enough to hold our attention. However, the director has decided to present each of these segments, each named for its central female character, in one continuous steadicam take, the maximum length being fourteen minutes. This was the technique employed by Alfred Hitchcock for his Rope in 1948. Hitchcock was forced to contrive moments of screen blackness to cover the editing points, a problem not having to be confronted by Garcia with his totally separate segments. However, like Hitchcock, he is defeated by the contrivance of this limiting technique. In the supermarket setting of the Robin Wright Penn and Jason Isaacs "story", there is effective dramatic use of the technique as Penn desperately rushes around the aisles looking for her ex-lover Isaacs. However, in other sequences the camera is aimlessly following characters down hallways purely to get from one room to another. This was cinematically deadening and almost had me screaming for an editor. In this case I would have been yelling for one Andrea Folprecht, surely one of the most underworked crew members in film history.
This is one of those well intentioned, commendably serious efforts that has to be admired, but offers very little enjoyment. The women are, without exception, totally miserable wretches, who ultimately become depressing and alienating to watch. No sympathy is aroused for these lost characters. The photography by Xavier Perez Grobet is admirable, but I started to entertain myself by assessing the problems he had to overcome to accommodate the "action" in these single takes. The music, by Ed Shearmur, does contribute interest with its sympathetic and sensitive underscoring of the emotions. This composer also contributed the only admirable ingredient to the appalling Bride Wars.
Nine Lives has been a popular film title, with director Dean Howell's 2004 drama, and two years earlier Paris Hilton's "effort". I could only recommend this 2005 Nine Lives to students of screen acting, for here you get lots of acting for your money, all overflowing with fervour and sincerity. A few of the performances are excellent, most are OK, and a couple are dire.
The director has opted for a grainy, impromptu documentary look for his film, and has succeeded in this area. The film looks extremely natural and the hand-held camerawork is admirable.
The transfer is presented in a 16x9 enhanced transfer at the ratio of 1.78:1, the IMDB giving the original ratio as 1.85:1.
The film has a grainy, gritty look and, intentionally, does not have the clarity of the best transfers, but is quite acceptable. Detail is generally good given the apparent use of available light in many circumstances, but shadow detail is poor, with some low level noise.
The colour is subdued, part of the general low-key technical approach of the film.
Aliasing is rare, and there are slight instances of edge enhancement on this single layered disc.
There are no film artefacts.
There are no subtitles.
There is one audio stream on this disc, Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded at 192 Kbps.
The film is a dialogue driven exercise and the soundtrack delivers every syllable clearly and cleanly - despite the use of live recording.
There is very little direction across the fronts and surround encoding is minimal.
There were no clicks or glitches of any kind.
The sympathetic score from Ed Shearmur (Epic Movie) is quite dynamically produced, and does succeed in elevating the often depressing goings on depicted on the screen. Unfortunately we do not have the six channel soundtrack available in the US, which undoubtedly would have contributed more to the presence of the score.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
|DVD||SONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output|
|Display||Samsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Speakers||VAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)|