Nine (Blu-ray) (2009)

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Released 31-May-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Musical Audio Commentary-with director Rob Marshall and producer John DeLuca
Featurette-The Incomparable Daniel Day-Lewis (5:12 - HD)
Featurette-The Women of Nine (10:47 - HD)
Featurette-Director Rob Marshall (6:27 - HD)
Featurette-Behind the Look of Nine (8:21 - HD)
Featurette-The Dancers of Nine (4:39 - HD)
Featurette-The Choreography of Be Italian (4:16 - HD)
Featurette-Making of Cinema Italiano (2:53 - SD)
Featurette-The Choreography of Cinema Italiano (8:37 - HD)
Featurette-Sophia Loren Remembers Cinecitta Studios (12:52 - HD)
Featurette-Screen Actor's Guild Q&A (43:14 - HD)
Music Video-'Cinema Italiano' performed by Kate Hudson (3:48 - SD)
Music Video
Music Video
Trailer-Various trailers
Web Links-Movie IQ
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 118:32
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Rob Marshall
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis
Marion Cotillard
Penélope Cruz
Sophia Loren
Nicole Kidman
Judi Dench
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music Andrea Guerra


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Portuguese DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Portuguese
Spanish
English Audio Commentary
Portuguese Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Before we get into discussing this adaptation of Maury Yeston's musical, I need to clarify that this film has nothing to do with Shane Acker's animated film of the same name, albeit spelt differently. No, Acker's film uses the number 9 and this uses the word Nine. Both films were released in 2009. I have no numerological superstitions, but even I find it uncanny that 2009 would see the release of two films named 9/Nine. One film is named after the number of its characters (9) and the other the age of the main character during a hallucination sequence, yes...that's right, a hallucination sequence.

     Nine is based on the famous 1982 musical that ran for 729 shows, won 5 Tony Awards and made a star of Raul Julia (yes, remember him in Kiss of the Spiderwoman?). The musical itself was derived from the context of Federico Fellini's famous 1963 film, 8 ½. Both the film and the musical deal with a director who is unable to deliver a script for his next film due to his personal life and its complications relating to his wife and mistress/es.

     In Nine the director is named Guido Contini (In 8 ½, Marcello Mastroianni plays the director Guido Anselmi). Originally for the film adaptation, Javier Bardem was going to play the lead, fresh from winning his Best Supporting Actor Award for No Country for Old Men. Instead, he dropped out of the project due to exhaustion and in his place Daniel Day-Lewis took on the role. Coincidentally, Day-Lewis had just won the Best Actor Oscar for There Will Be Blood in his previous acting role. Antonio Banderas, who had played the role in its theatrical run during 2003, also declined the lead. One must ask the reason why actors of the calibre of Javier Bardem and Antonio Banderas turned this role down. The answer may have to do more with ego than anything else (after all, how difficult would be to compete with the calibre of the female cast?).

     Rob Marshall took three years to develop this film, and he has stated that he had actresses audition for roles (some of whom had never auditioned before) such as Anne Hathaway, Sienna Miller, Katie Holmes, Demi Moore and Juliette Binoche. With a high quality cast of Daniel Day-Lewis, Dame Judi Dench, Sophia Loren, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz and Kate Hudson which includes six Oscar winners, one wonders why this film failed critically and at the box-office.

     Critics in fact have been mixed to negative in their reviews. Roger Ebert wrote for the Chicago Sun-Times, "Nine is just plain adrift in its own lack of necessity. It is filled wall to wall with stars (Marion Cotillard as the wife figure, Penelope Cruz as the mistress, Judi Dench as the worrying assistant, Nicole Kidman as the muse, the sublime Sophia Loren as the mother). But that's what they are, stars, because the movie doesn't make them characters." Richard Corliss wrote for Time Magazine, "Today, film directors prefer to make movies based on old movies, not plumb the pools of their own artistry. Hollywood looks back, not inward. Nine, directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago) and scripted by Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) and Michael Tolkin (The Player), wants to do both: engage in a little navel-gazing while summoning the glories of Italian cinema in the Cinecitta era of the 1960s. Find a role for Sophia Loren! Cast Kidman as an amalgam of Claudia Cardinale and Anita Ekberg! And, just as anachronistic, have people sing their troubles on a single bare stage. Attractive notions, all. So why don't they coalesce into a fully satisfying film? In part, because they expose the show's structure as a variety program, an episodic fashion show. Each of the women in Guido's life comes on, talks about her life, performs a song, then fades into the crowd." A.O. Scott is particularly critical of Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance when he wrote the following for The New York Times, "Nine dresses up its coarseness in bogus prestige, which both kills the fun and exposes an emptiness at the project’s heart — a fatal lack of inspiration. The fear of such a void is what animates the Guido character played by Marcello Mastroianni in 8 ½, a man whose vanity, tenderness and narcissism mirrored Fellini’s own, and whose anxiety at the prospect of failing as an artist and a man made him a vivid and credible hero. That psychological dimension is missing from Nine, which never finds a way to communicate either the romantic ardour or the artistic passion that would make Mr. Day-Lewis’s Guido interesting. Instead he just comes off as a jerk, a compulsive liar and seeker of attention — and, in spite of the sports cars, the cigarettes and the occasional run-in with the Roman Catholic Church, not really very Italian at all. The best that can be said about Nine is that its affections are sincere, though you could say the same about its hero, who has the misfortune of being in a movie that’s an even worse mess than he is." Kirk Honeycutt, writing for The Hollywood Reporter summarises that "the disappointments here are many, from a starry cast the film ill-uses to flat musical numbers that never fully integrate into the dramatic story. The only easy prediction is that Nine is not going to revive the slumbering musical-film genre."

     I believe that there are at least four reasons why this film turned in a $US27 million loss at the box-office (cost = $US80 million, gross revenue = $US53 million). Firstly, for noted film-buffs like myself, when I view a film like this which is so obviously derived from a classic source such as 8 ½, I find myself comparing scenes to the original and quite frankly nothing can compare. It's why no-one should do a modern re-make of Citizen Kane or Gone with the Wind. At least the musical could stand on its own merit as it’s performed on one stage theatrically. As such, it does not invite the same comparisons. Secondly, viewers not familiar with the musical or 8 ½ would expect the leading actresses to get some decent screen-time, instead each actress averages 4 to 17 minutes at most. That's fine when the parts are played by actresses that are not noted, as the viewer instead follows the story, but when you have a cast assembled like this one you are used to them carrying the film. Thirdly, Daniel Day-Lewis does not evoke the correct mix of indifference and emotional frustration needed for the role. This is what critics meant in universally writing that Day-Lewis wasn't 'Italian' enough. Lastly, the cinematography is not suited for a feature like this one. The average shot length is correct for an action film, not a musical where the audience needs to focus on each character and what they are saying or singing. How can one do that when there is a cut every three seconds? Perhaps Rob Marshall was trying to cover up the fact that his star cast couldn't dance. If this was the case, then it would have been better to not use an assemble cast. You would have to blame the Weinstein brothers for the casting choices which led to the film's poor critical reception.

     Despite this, I found myself more attuned to the second half of the film, so not all is lost with Nine; it's not actually that bad, it's just that it could have been better. Also, Sony have done an unbelievable job in promoting this film on Blu-ray and DVD, with multi-page ads in local media outlets (such as Who Weekly for example) and stacked the extras for fans of the film for the home entertainment market.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The film switches between colour and black-and-white photography, especially for choreographed scenes and flashbacks. Hence, the intentional grainy look at times.

     The aspect ratio is 2:35:1, 16x9 enhanced. The average bitrate is 25.93 m/b per second. As the film is set in 1965, the overall transfer is a bit dull, with intentional film grain as mentioned. There are many scenes with dark backgrounds, so shadow detail is okay and blacks are rendered well.

     The colour photography is washed out to evoke the 1960s.

     There are no film artefacts other than the intentional film artefacts added.

     Subtitles are provided in English, English for the Deaf and Hard of hearing (SDH), Portuguese and Spanish. Subtitles are also available for Rob Marshall and John DeLuca's commentary in English, Portuguese and Spanish.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio transfer is unlike the video transfer in that it supports the soundtrack really well, both in its surround mix and its range.

     The main soundtrack is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track encoded at 3114 kbps. Dubs are provided in Portuguese in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 encoded at 2773 kbps and in Spanish encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 640 kbps.

     Dialogue is clear and synchronised.

     Original Broadway composer Maury Yeston added three new songs for the film, Guarda La Luna (Look at the Moon) a lullaby sung by Sophia Loren, Cinema Italiano, a number performed by Kate Hudson and Take It All, a song performed by Marion Cotillard in the film. Unfortunately, I believe for timing reasons a few songs from the musical were cut for the film including the title song, Nine, Not Since Charlie Chaplin (hence the cardinal's reference to the great performer in the spa scene), Only With You and Ti Volgio Bene.

     The surround channels get a good workout with this mix, especially for the musical numbers. Ambient sounds and background sounds are also presented well in different speakers, both among the front and rear channels.

     The subwoofer is not overpowering, but it does support low-end bass frequencies quite nicely also, again mainly for the musical numbers.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Audio Commentary with director Rob Marshall and producer John DeLuca

     This is a relaxed commentary amongst friends it seems, with both interrupting and adding to each other’s comments. They discuss the Italian movie industry at Cinecitta Studies in the 1960s, the massive sound stage set at Shepparton Studios in London, the challenges of shooting choreographed scenes, the cast and their thoughts on making the film.

The Incomparable Daniel Day-Lewis (5:12 - HD)

The cast and crew discuss how great it was to work with Daniel Day-Lewis. This is typical EPK stuff.

The Women of Nine (10:47 - HD)

     This looks at the casting of the female actresses and their acting and musical performances.

Director Rob Marshall (6:27 - HD)

     Daniel Day-Lewis and Dame Judi Dench, among others, provide accolades for Rob Marshall's directing. Again, this is standard EPK stuff.

Behind the Look of Nine (8:21 - HD)

     This extra focuses on the film's set design, lighting, and costuming. It's a decent extra considering that Nine was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Art Direction and Costume Design.

The Dancers of Nine (4:39 - HD)

     We get to see auditions for dancers that tried out for the supporting roles in the film, as well as interviews.

The Choreography of Be Italian (4:16 - HD)

     This is a short extra looking at rehearsals for the number featuring Black Eyed Peas singer, Fergie.

Making of Cinema Italiano (2:53 - SD)

     Kate Hudson discusses her preparation in singing the song.

The Choreography of Cinema Italiano (8:37 - HD)

     This is a behind-the-scenes look at the choreography of Kate Hudson's performance.

Sophia Loren Remembers Cinecitta Studios (12:52 - HD)

     I really enjoyed this nostalgic interview which discusses the golden era of Italian movie-making in the 1950s and 1960s. Sophia Loren discuss how she got her first break in the movie industry as an extra on the 1951 American film, Quo Vadis for director Mervyn LeRoy, who quickly realised Loren spoke no English but admired her courage anyway. She also shares her anecdotes on Vittorio De Sica and Federico Fellini (who sadly was never able to work with Loren due to timing).

Screen Actor's Guild Q&A (43:14 - HD)

     Six of the cast members - Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench, and Kate Hudson form a panel discussing the film from questions given by Pete Hammond. Again, this is a typical EPK feature, with a lot of cross-promotion for the film and the stars' careers.

     Music Videos

     There are three music videos in standard definition (and high definition for Marion Cotillard's video): Cinema Italiano featuring Kate Hudson (3:48), Take it All featuring Marion Cotillard (3:41), and Unusual Way featuring Griffith Frank (3:41)

Sony Trailers

     We get six Sony movie trailers for It Might Get Loud, Michael Jackson's This Is It, The Men Who Stare at Goats, The Bounty Hunter, Extraordinary Measures, The Back-up Plan and a format trailer promoting Blu-ray as a high definition format called Bluray Disc is High Definition.

Web Links

     If your Blu-ray player is connected to the internet you can use this feature to watch the movie with MovieIQ, which provides an information track listing facts and trivia or you connect to Sony's portal using BD-Live.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Nine has been released in the United States in Region A and the United Kingdom in Region B. The only differences between the United States Region A release in comparison to the Australian Region B release are language and subtitle options, as the extras are identical. The Region B United Kingdom Blu-ray release is missing Rob Marshall's and John DeLuca's audio commentary, so avoid that version if you want to pick up a Region B copy of Nine.

Summary

    With a cast like the one assembled here Nine should have been a smash hit instead of a film that lacked potential. I strongly believe that the cinematographic decision to include so much fast-cutting was a colossal mistake as it does not allow the audience to connect with the characters and the story.

    If you are a fan of the film, then you are in for a treat as Sony has done a great job in promoting Nine on Blu-ray, with many extras featuring mainly cast and crew interviews.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Monday, July 05, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
UK Region B Lacks Commentary track - REPLY POSTED
UK Region B Cat # EBR 5149 - REPLY POSTED