Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Be Italian

"Learning more,
Knowing less,
Simple words,
Tenderness ...
Part of getting tall."
Maury Yeston

DAY 81: Well, I'm going to steal a play from Susan and Judy's "playbooks," but I HAD to write this evening about the film Nine.  Long story short ... I ADORED every frame of this film.  I've been familiar with the show ... and played the Original Cast LP continuously at the time ... since it first opened on Broadway in 1982 (my senior year in college) and I had the pleasure of seeing the Antonio Banderas revival on Broadway in 2003.  I am also a HUGE fan of the work of Maury Yeston, who wrote the music and lyrics, and who penned other wonderful pieces such as Grand Hotel, Phantom (the better, NON-Webber version), and Titanic (not to mention a BEAUTIFUL song cycle called December Songs, and some minor works, including a lovely Off-Broadway score called In the Beginning).
This is going to be hard to explain to non-theatre people ... there are times as I'm watching a show (particularly a musical) when something is directed or choreographed SO perfectly that it makes me teary-eyed and I have to catch my breath.  As a director, I'm very attuned to "stage pictures" - the placement of people and other visual elements in a scene - and there were some STUNNING ones in Nine.  This movie literally took my breath away MANY times.  This doesn't happen frequently and lots of folks don't "get it" when I try to describe the feeling - but it's VERY powerful and it reaffirms my love for this art form every time it happens (it also happened last year sitting in performances of Billy Elliot and Next to Normal on Broadway).
And where do I start with the performances?  Marion Cotillard was STUNNING ... Oscar-worthy, in my opinion - I was close to sobbing during "My Husband Makes Movies" and many of her heart-breaking scenes.  Judi Dench can do NO wrong in my book - she is, in my opinion, our greatest living actress.  And can we talk about Sophia Loren ... the woman, at 75, is still ASTOUNDINGLY BEAUTIFUL and really moved me as Guido's mother.  I was also unfamiliar with Fergie's work with the Black Eyed Peas, but what a voice and what a presence in the most popular song from Nine, "Be Italian."  As Guido himself, Daniel Day-Lewis, did a remarkable job in a VERY unlikable role, eliciting more than his share of sympathy for the character.
My only concern is that the film will have limited appeal (for theatre/musical theatre folk or foreign film buffs), and your "average" American moviegoer might not appreciate it.  I was disappointed in the absence of my FAVORITE song in the show "Getting Tall" (which is sung by Little Guido to "Big" Guido at the end of the musical, and some of whose lyrics start this post).  But the ending was moving and well-executed even without the song I love so much, and my disappointment at its omission is NOTHING compared to how delighted I felt about the film as a whole, and I'm certainly grateful to Rob Marshall, the crew, and all the wonderful performers of this dazzling film.


  1. Your review makes me want to see it again. And we are. Tomorrow.

  2. I love reading your point of view, and I think it's awesome that all 3 of us blogged about this film. :-)

  3. I loved the visual collage, the feel of this film. And Kate Hudson was adorable, and looked so much like her mother in the day.