Nine, directed by Rob Marshall, opens in limited release tomorrow. It stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, PenÃƒÂ©lope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Sophia Loren, and Stacy Ferguson.
Mary: So you saw "Nine."
Balk: I did indeed.
Mary: Are you a Fellini fan?
Balk: I am. I am also a "Nine" fan. I saw the musical as a kid, and pretty much know the score by heart.
Mary: Oh wow, that's WEIRD. I do not care for musicals. In fact I hate them. I was wholly prepared to hate this fucking movie. Sometimes I like to get angry, and that's fun in and of itself, BUT I kinda LOVED this movie, and was shocked. Were you horribly disappointed since you had benchmarks and love and stuff?
Balk: I sort of understood why they cut what they cut and added what they added. And I have a couple of issues with it, I guess, but I generally really enjoyed it. The fact that it is a valentine to the female ass did not hurt either.
Mary: And boobs. So many great boobs.
Balk: I was too busy focusing on the asses.
Mary: Beeeeeeeeeee ITALIAN!
Balk: Ha! Let me ask you a question: I take it you were totally unfamiliar with plot and score? Or had you seen "8 1/2?"
Mary: I have seen "8 1/2 " but in the background of parties. Not like sitting down and watching it all the way through and then thinking hard about it.
Balk: How Felliniesque.
Mary: With sunglasses.
Balk: So I'm wondering what you loved about it? A couple of people I talked to who did not have the same prior knowledge I brought to it were unimpressed; they thought the songs were too samey. How did it work for you?
Mary: Well here's the thing: I didn't even really know that it was a musical. Because I filed that tidbit of information somewhere and lost it. So to me it was just this movie with an all-star cast and then I read the press notes and wanted to kill myself or leave but was in midtown and it was very cold outside. SO. The opening was GAHROSS.
Balk: That's actually not dissimilar to how the show opened. Was it too stagy for you?
Mary: And the DDL's accent was ridiculous and I didn't understand it and was immediately worried that we'd have to see Dame Dench and Sophia Loren do sexymenopausy stuff and want to puke. And I hated how the opener was this highlight reel of what to expect next etc/intro of the cast and characters. BUT. Here's where it works for me: I hate musicals because I hate when people explode into song. It's like unexpected slam poetry. It's so aggressive. The fact that all of this was SUPPOSED to be onstage and stuff made it easier for me to digest as a hater of musicals. I knew it was coming and that made it better.
Balk: Yeah, they did a good job of keeping the songs discrete from the action.
Mary: AND the fact that at the end of the day these actresses are so fucking talented and sucking all the juju from a room and puking it back at you. They're SO good at that energy suck and snowball, and I love that. And the action wasn't just some hackneyed stitching the musicals bits together; I was interested in the story. AND it was BEAUTIFUL. The styling was AMAZING.
Balk: That was another question, did the story work for you? I mean, I am a man of a certain age, but I could really FEEL Day-Lewis' agony, etc. Did that come through?
Mary: Well. I'm not sitting there thinking I have anything in common with DDL other than wanting to fuck Penelope Cruz and wifing Cotillard. BUT. I definitely understand having to be around a creative who's being a big old baby about the significance of the work they do. Also, I live in New York and date in New York so the hypochondriac thing was very well done and recognizable. I see myself as the Dench character most of all, I guess.
Balk: The chick who does the clothes.
Mary: No, the chick who coddles the dude because he's SOOOOO special for being a dude. He was being a very convincing man of a certain age.
Balk: Agree. And the women! I thought they were all great. Biggest surprise (outside of Cotillard, who I regret to admit I have never seen in anything before) was that Fergie was actually pretty good.
Mary: YES. Because she was fat. Well, not like an actual fat person. But I like that she LOOKED like a whore.
Balk: She totally nailed the Italian beach hooker look.
Mary: Absolutely. It reminded me of the Chris Isaak/Helena Christensen vid, in part, which is STILL CLASSIC. Also she reeeeeeeeked of sex. Stank. And that was great. But she really turned it out in a highly complex HELLA choreographed number. Was the choreography the same as the OG musical? I was partly blown away by that, how emotive it was.
Balk: I think this was a lot more stylized and over the top. Which I expect has something to do with Rob Marshall? (I never saw "Chicago" either.)
Mary: "Chicago" was crap. It was boring and shitty and completely devoid of sexuality. It was Svedka robots in comparison.
Balk: Ha. Well this movie was for sure all sex all the time.
Mary: YES. That Penelope Cruz number where she's essentially fully clothed but oh my god SO NOT CLOTHED. It was insane. The curvature of her ass was obscene.
Balk: Yeah, that was the ass that should get the Best Ass Oscar, if they've added that category.
Mary: They should add that and just make a really elaborate reel. What did you think of Hudson? Easily could've been the weakest link, maybe other than Fergs.
Balk: Pleasantly surprised. It's a new song, so I wasn't in love with it, but I felt like she worked it.
Mary: I was NOT MAD at her and I hate her pointy head! It's the first time she gave me a little Goldie.
Mary: Can you imagine how tense that girl must've been? That was terror dancing and I loved it. That set must've been psychologically rough.
Balk: There was that kind of off-kilter vibrancy that you get from her mom but rarely see in her.
Mary: YES. Also balls out, where she's not wondering what she looks like because she trusts the process.
Balk: Yeah, she totally gave into it.
Mary: Which is what made this movie for me. Everyone decided to go in. I would've hated it if the casting had been in anyway different, because I just wouldn't have suspended the disbelief/animosity. I just wouldn't have gone with. But I went. It was kinda a succubus orgy
Balk: Nicole Kidman: I think she may be the only part of the movie that was not 100%?
Mary: I did not like her. She was beautiful. Her costumes were flawless. Her lighting was incredibly generous. BUT. Bitch can't sing. It's like "Moulin Rouge" where I'm wondering the whole time why the fuck these assholes are yelling at me. It was the whispery version of that.
Balk: Yeah, she seemed a little, I dunno, flat? It didn't feel like she brought the same energy. And yeah, part of that is the character, but Cotillard has this one down-tempo ballad that she totally rocked.
Mary: Cotillard can make her retinae quiver in a gonzo way, but, yeah, with Kidman, it's not character: It was her larynx. I thought about Randy Jackson, and how he'd call her performance pitchy. It was HELLA pitchy. Girl didn't know where she was going. Honestly, and I know this sounds assy, I just don't think she practiced as much as the others. Boom.
Balk: Oooh, you went there.
Mary: And she looks like a retard in a fedora, as many people do.
Balk: Do you think they were all intimidated by Sophia Loren being there?
Mary: Intimidated as in concerned she might have a thrombosis? Man, Sophia is OLD and kinda nuts looking. But her sternum is youthful, I noticed.
Balk: I am glad you are the one who said that.
Mary: Dude, she looked wild. And not like, yum, feral Italian.
Balk: Because I cannot. It would be like insulting God's girlfriend.
Mary: God's goomar.
Balk: She _is_ 75.
Mary: Yeah. I can't even tell if she LOOKS GREAT FOR HER AGE, because the superolds are like the babies.
Balk: Okay, I think we hit all the chicks. What about Day-Lewis? I agree with you about the accent, which sounded Russian in some parts. But then again, this is Daniel Day-Lewis. He spent TWO years researching or something? Maybe that's exactly what an Italian born in some 1920s Marchese city would sound like speaking English?
Mary: BUT. The thing that I thought was interesting about DDL is that it's the first time I heard his real life speaking voice accent in an accent. Like, if you think about "There Will Be Blood," that was a viscous dark NOT HIS REAL VOICE accent, and he stayed with it throughout. This Italian accent was this weird Russian thing but then, every third voice, there it was-his real life talking/giving interviews voice. And that shocked me, since he's so good at accents.
Balk: Maybe he was too worried about the singing. Which I thought he handled fine, btw.
Mary: His singing was GREAT. He also went for it. And it wasn't fancy: It was solid, with a confident delivery.
Balk: Here is the thing that really worked for me about the movie, and what works for me about the musical in general:
Mary: It's all you. Go.
Balk: There's a line in Joseph Heller's "Something Happened" that is one of my favorite things ever. The main character says, "I know at last what I want to be when I grow up. When I grow up I want to be a little boy." And what this story is about is someone who is still basically a little boy in appetites and selfishness and the rest of it, being forced to actually grow up. And it works. You believe it.
Mary: This is true.
Balk: The final shot of the movie, which I don't want to spoil, is so perfect. I don't know if you saw "Life Aquatic," but that ends with Bill Murray lifting the little boy on his shoulders and walking out triumphantly. It's a beautiful shot, but it feels cheap, because I don't think that movie EARNED it. This one, however, oh my God, it works so well.
Mary: YES. I agree with the final shot of the movie.
Balk: I love the whole end, the curtain call type thing.
Mary: Yes. There needs to be a German word for this bromantic nostalgia dudes feel for the purest form of themselves which is them as a wee kid. It's so "Transformers" Optimus Prime dying. I don't think it belongs to me.
Balk: Haha. Weirdly, it ties into this longstanding theory I have about why men take breakups harder than women do.
Mary: That is a different post.
Balk: Fair enough. Finally, my big takeaway from the movie was that I want to grow out my hair like Daniel Day-Lewis' if I still can.
Mary: OH MY GOD YOU TOTALLY SHOULD! I think long hair is coming back in, or at least, or that length hair. It goes with smoking for sure.
Balk: So much smoking in the movie. Loved it.
Mary: You know what it is? It's irresponsible sex hair.
Mary: That's good hair.
Balk: That is what I want to convey, irresponsible sex.
Mary: If you got it, smoke it.