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Movie Review: Nine

Alternate Title: La Vita Acida

Story: Mamma mia - what has director Rob Marshall wrought? Perhaps this film based on the 1982 Broadway play which was brought back to Broadway in 2003 which was adapted from the Federico Fellini film “8 1⁄2” has had one too many incarnations. The film was written by Michael Tolkin and the late Anthony Minghella, based on the book for the musical “Nine” by Arthur Kopit, music and lyrics by Maury Yeston. See? Just reviewing the provenance of this film takes an entire paragraph.

Guido Contini is a tired, creatively exhausted, international film director. The pressure to make another film is overwhelming as are his many relationships with women represented in the film by his late mother, his Muse, his mistress, his first female obsession, his colleague, the costume designer, the reporter for Vogue and his long suffering wife. See? Troppo (too much).

Each woman gets to sing a song or two. Guido gets to do a lot of smoking, stumbling about and hand wringing. We get to see a lot of razzle dazzle, blinding spotlights, quick cuts - a la music video style and sadly, not enough of a connection to any of the parts. The acting was uneven and at times embarrassing for these very well-known actors. The good news is that Italy looks good. Italy always looks good.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSG9mWbD1_I

Watch the trailer for 1963's Federico Fellini's 81/2 here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtDQOF_pU8A

Acting: As much as I admire Daniel Day-Lewis, he was miserably miscast as Guido Contini. Oscar winning Marion Cotillard as wife Luisa, manages to stay above the mediocre performances of many of the other ladies. Penélope Cruz as mistress Carla, hits some high spots and some low spots. She is still one of my favorites, no matter what she plays. Judi Dench as costume designer Lilli seemed to be the only one who was having a good time. Stacy 'Fergie' Ferguson as Saraghina was terrific in her limited role. She is the female singer for The Black Eyed Peas. Kate Hudson as Vogue reporter Stephanie was imply awful. Nicole Kidman as Muse Claudia was nothing to write home about and Sophia Loren as Mamma was scary.

Trivia: Javier Bardem was originally cast in the role now played by Daniel Day-Lewis but backed out before production began. Director Rob Marshall has been nominated for Broadway's Tony Award six times: as Best Choreographer, in 1993, for "Kiss of the Spider Woman--The Musical;" in 1994, for "Damn Yankees!" and also for "She Loves Me;" in 1998 for "Cabaret;" and in 1999 for "Little Me;" and as Best Director (Musical), with collaborator Sam Mendes, for "Cabaret." He has yet to win. Daniel Day-Lewis was Jonathan Demme's first choice for the part of Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia (1993). He turned the part down to work on In the Name of the Father (1993) and Tom Hanks was cast in Philadelphia (1993) instead. Day-Lewis earned an Oscar nomination for best actor in In the Name of the Father (1993), but Hanks won the best actor Oscar for Philadelphia (1993), the part Day-Lewis turned down. He is the first non-American actor to win two Academy Awards for best actor. He won 23 acting awards for his performance in There Will be Blood, including the coveted Oscar.

Predilection: I like Daniel Day-Lewis and Penelope Cruz.

Critters: None

Food: Shockingly, none. I longed for pasta.

Sex Spectrum: Lots of bedroom scenes but no actual sex scenes.

Soundtrack: The only tune I was singing as I left the theater was the one that Fergie sang - 'Be Italian.'

Opening Titles: A short black and white sequence followed by the title of the film. All other credits are at the end.

Visual Art: Italy always looks fine.

Theater Audience: Two people shy of nine.

Weather: It was sunny in Italy.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: I drifted a lot and looked at my watch often.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Neither, really. Why not rent Fellini's 81/2?

Length: Under two hours

LOBO HOWLS: 6 (an inverted 9)