Nine

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OK, this is gonna be a long one—but there is so much that needs to be said. But if you’re looking for the quick answer: it isn’t a wasted 2 hours, but we probably wouldn’t watch it again.

So, where do you start with a musical.. and one that you may have actually seen when it was first opened on Broadway? The good: incredible visuals and dancing. Great female performances and engaging music. But it all misses the mark and the point. Marshall blows it from the first scene that is there to establish Contini’s duality of man and child, artist and husband. He opts for fun choreography and tight close-ups, but loses the division and internal struggle. You also just never believe this man is a genius—everyone tells you he is, but we really never get to see that. He comes across as a faker. In truth, Felini may have even found that aspect amusing.

As to Daniel Day-Lewis, he is no Raul Julia, who played the part originally. He has none of the joy of life that Julia had. This is probably a directorial and editorial issue as they also cut songs and moments from the original that caught those aspects. All of Lewis’ joy and creativity is shown only as he watches the fantasies he creates.. and then it is almost only watching a woman he knows singing and dancing… he only participates once, by proxy, as a boy.

Ultimately, this was never going to be a crowd pleaser film. Nine is not a happy and light story (and neither is 8 ½). It is Felini fer chrissakes! And worse, how many people even remember who and what Felini was to film and art? So, I won’t say don’t watch it, but take it as a variety show of some great moments that never quite come together into a story you’ll care about.

Sebastiane

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Couldn’t even watch the whole film it was so devoid of interesting plot or pacing. Basically, this is just a soft-porn by Derek Jarman… and not even a very good one at that. It’s claim to fame was its explicit depiction of homosexuality, but Queer as Folk probably has it beat (no pun intended) on that count now (and QasF DOES have good plot) so there is no need for you to waste your time on this unless you are a dramturg or student of film.

Topkapi

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A fun heist film that is much copied now. Dassin’s original inspiration (his own Rififi) is a less campy version, but they each have their charm and brilliance. Topkapi also has the fun of some well known faces in their younger years. Despite some of the over-the-top moments, it is relentless and charged in its execution. Now, to rewatch The Hot Rock for a complete trilogy of perspectives of the story (haven’t seen it since it first came out 😉

Kissing Jessica Stein

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Fun and with some great dialog, for those that really love words, and so real in some ways that the movie has suffered some criticism… and I get why, but it is still true to character and closer to life than most movies would be willing to go for the character resolution. If you’ve ever lived in NYC, you know these people. Is it a little stilted? Sure, but how basic can a young jewish girl from Scarsdale’s life really be in a movie?

From Paris with Love

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Some amusing moments as Besson and Morel can deliver, but this movie really suffers from casting and writing. Casting-wise, Travolta and Rhys-Meyers just have no real connection… a buddy film really only works if they bond. Travolta is so frenetic and untruthful, that there are few moments that they actually talk or experience the same things. Writing-wise, there are just no lasting consequences or emotions from the events; even those that should scar the heck our of our hero. Some great action and well construted from a plot POV, but not a must-see and not high in the Besson cannon for re-viewing.

Art, writing, life explained… or at least commented upon…