Music Break: Marion Cotillard’s musical segments in NINE

I was browsing Netflix Instant yesterday when I saw the cover of NINE flashed by. I remember seeing that film a few years back and I even reviewed it. Overall I wasn’t fond of the film, it felt extremely indulgent and vapid. Despite Daniel Day-Lewis’ best effort and the spectacular female cast, Rob Marshall’s musical just didn’t wow me.

The two scenes that did make an impression on me, were the two musical segments performed by Marion Cotillard. She played Luisa Contini, Guido’s former-film-star-but-now-abandoned wife. Cotillard is also the only cast member who has two musical numbers in the movie, and I adore both of them. Kudos to composer Maury Yeston for writing such beautiful melody and lyrics of all the songs in the film.


Luisa laments about husband’s obsession with making movies, and bedding his actresses, in the sequence My Husband Makes Movies. It’s such an emotional song and Cotillard conveys such pathos in the way she sings the song. I like that the scene also shows the first time Guido meets Luisa during her audition. It adds so much to the sentiment of the moment. The song such a gorgeous melody that has a sad, haunting quality. It’s quite a heartbreaking song that it actually made me tear up every time I hear it.

Her second musical sequence Take it All is far less demure. In fact, it’s quite a seductive number as Luisa shimmied down the catwalk in sparkly stripper getup. The spirited sequence is decidedly sexual and provocative, but it’s just as sad as the first one as she bares it all, body and soul, for her husband to see just how much she’s kept on giving.


I love how passionate this song is, it’s both sexy and heartbreaking at the same time. Marion’s performance is nothing short of brilliant, I think her character is definitely the scene-stealer of the film. I dare say that she even outshone Day-Lewis every time she appeared in the film.

I still need to see her Oscar-winning performance as French singer Edith Piaf in La vie en rose. In her IMDb trivia, it’s said that ‘if she had not been an actress, she would have liked to become a singer’ No doubt Marion would have a flourishing career in that as well, heck she could probably do both. Another actor I wish would venture into singing is Ewan McGregor, LOVE his voice in Moulin Rouge!

So yeah, if you haven’t seen NINE yet, I’d say it’s worth a rent. The soundtrack however, should be worth buying.

What do you think of NINE and/or these two musical numbers?

Top 3 Favorite Nicole Kidman Roles

This post is for the current LAMB Acting School 101 on Nicole Kidman.  As I haven’t got a chance to catch up on a ton of her work (as I’ve mentioned here), I decided to just choose the top three favorite roles of the 11 films I’ve seen her in so far.

I actually include Nicole in my Movie Alphabet I did recently as I generally quite like her and I think she’s one of the most glamorous Hollywood actress working today. I included her in the Honorable Mentions in my Top 10 Hottest Aussie Actors, but in hindsight, I’d probably swap Sam Worthington with her as I’m not too fond of him lately.

I do think Nicole should lay off on the Botox and not be so obsessed with looking perfect as she ends up looking so plastic with scary lips! I mean the statuesque 5’11” actress looked so fresh when she was starting out, with her freckles and glorious curly red hair. I mean just look at her photos from then and now…

In any case, she is a talented actress and I give her props for trying out different genres and not afraid to portray morally-ambiguous, even down-right evil characters. I thought she was pretty good in the far-more-watchable Joel Schumacher Batman movie Batman Forever with Val Kilmer. An interesting trivia – She has co-starred with four actors who’ve played Batman in a movie: In My Life (1993) with Michael Keaton, Batman Forever (1995) with Val Kilmer, The Peacemaker (1997) with George Clooney and The Portrait of a Lady (1996) with Christian Bale.

I’m looking forward to seeing more of her work, especially her Oscar-winning performance in The Hours, as well as her most recent ones such as Hemingway & Gellhorn with Clive Owen and her role as the eternal beauty Grace Kelly in Grace of Monaco.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my picks of Nicole’s Top 3 performances:

To Die For (1995)

I saw this years ago but was impressed by her fearless performance as a ruthless TV personality who’s willing to get what she wants, no matter what the cost, even killing her own husband! She’s the ultimate femme fatale: seductive and dangerous! Apparently she fought to get this role and was quite relentless in that pursuit, even tracking down director Gus Van Sant & calling him personally. Well, it paid off and I think she won a Golden Globe for her performance. Joaquin Phoenix turned in a memorable performance as well.

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

I adore this film and it stands as one of my all-time favorite musicals. I wasn’t sure about the pairing of Ewan McGregor and Nicole at first, but they both wowed me here. Not only did they sound fabulous singing together, they also have excellent chemistry here. Nicole was appropriately sultry as an elite courtesan, but she also displays her comic timing in the scene where Satine first met Ewan’s character whom she thought was the Duke in her bedroom! She also conveys believable pathos towards the third part of the film, displaying her versatility as an actress.

Far & Away (1992)

She’s done three films with her ex-husband Tom Cruise but I pick this one as I don’t think I’ll be seeing Eyes Wide Shut and I barely remember Days of Thunder. I actually saw this on the big screen with my brother years ago and I remember really enjoying it. Ok, the Irish accent is all over the place but I like the feisty chemistry between her and Cruise, she was quite feisty in her role and she still has that fresh-face look with her red curly hair.


NINE – She’s not my favorite female actress in this film (that would be Marion Cottilard) but I thought she was pretty good as Claudia, as the muse of Daniel Day-Lewis’ Guido. She has a beautiful voice and definitely suits the glamorous but icy demeanor that her role requires.

Well, that’s my favorite list so far, I might update this once I see more of Nicole’s films. What do you think of my picks?

DVD Review: Nine

Style is the new content,” Kate Hudson’s character Stephanie, an American fashion journalist working for Vogue told Guido Contini. Well, that’s about sums up the sensibility of this movie, which is nothing short of style over substance.

Based on Frederico Fellini’s 8-1/2 (reviewed by guest blogger Rockerdad), it centers on the renowned Italian director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) who’s having a serious writer’s block and personal crisis right in the middle of filming of his new movie. Apparently Guido is so highly regarded that when any project he sets his sights on will get green-lit even without so much as a script. So the million dollar set is built, costumes are designed and sown, famous movie stars are cast… but, nobody knows what the story is all about. All the constant attention, pressures from the media, and the producers anxious to hear what he’ll do next all caving in on him like a landslide and Guido is trapped underneath, gasping for air.

At the center of it all is the women that encircles him, both from the past and the future: his wife Luisa (Marion Cotillard), his mistress Carla (Penelope Cruz), his film star muse Claudia (Nicole Kidman), his confidant and costume designer Lilli (Judi Dench), an American fashion journalist Stephanie (Kate Hudson), the whore from his youth Saraghina (Fergie) and his mother (Sophia Loren). Each of these women and their encounter with the director offers a glimpse of Guido’s eccentricity and reveals what a flawed ‘hero’ he is.

When I first heard about this movie last Summer, I thought ‘Wow, this is going to be a massive hit when it’s released during the holiday season!’ Just looking at the impressive cast and Rob Marshall’s cred as the director of the Oscar’s Best Picture winner Chicago, it seemed that this one is destined for success. Alas, this was perhaps one of the biggest flops of last year. Its domestic total barely made up a quarter of the $80 million budget! (per Box Office Mojo) and it bombed critically too, earning a paltry 36% on RottenTomatoes. The consensus on RT says: It has a game, great-looking cast, led by the always worthwhile Daniel Day-Lewis, but Rob Marshall’s Nine is chaotic and curiously distant. I concur.

Nine_GuidoLouisaNow, I’m not saying the movie is a complete waste of time. It’s sort of the case where the parts are actually greater than the whole, as some of the song/dance scenes are quite memorable, though when put together as a movie it’s all a bit… disconcerted. Before I get to the scenes, let me just talk about the performances. Now, Day-Lewis is a maestro in acting, so even in a not-so-great movies, this guy still delivers a solid rendition of the main character. So he didn’t really shine like a new penny, as he spends most of the time sulking and all discombobulated, but that is what Guido is all about and Day-Lewis captures it perfectly.

But among the female cast, my favorite has got to be Luisa, Guido’s former-film-star wife. Luisa gave up acting when she marries Guido, but she’s constantly abandoned by her husband. She laments about her pain in the musical sequence ‘My husband makes movies,’  it was sung beautifully by the sublime Marion Cotillard. I love the melody of the song, but especially the words and the way she sings them. No wonder she won an Oscar for her performance as French singer Edith Piaf in La vie en rose. In her IMDb trivia, it’s said that ‘if she had not been an actress, she would have liked to become a singer’ No doubt she would have a flourishing career in that as well. Cotillard is also the only cast member who has two musical numbers in the movie, Take it all is much more spirited and wildly sensuous but still kind of sad when you listen to the lyrics.

I love these two songs much more than the robust Cinema Italiano, performed with radiance and vigor by Kate Hudson. It’s obviously the more marketable as it’s used in the trailer. It’s enjoyable but just like the movie, it’s highly superficial. I think I like Luisa’s songs better because they’re much more poignant and heart-rending. The other memorable numbers are Penelope Cruz’s sexually-charged performing the ironically-named “A Call from the Vatican,” and the sentimental Unusual Way by Nicole Kidman.

Overall, I enjoyed it and the songs are quite memorable. For sure I won’t buy the dvd, but I just might order the soundtrack!

2.5 out of 5 reels

What do you think of NINE?

NINE Musical Trailer 3

Man, I’ve been giving so much free publicity for the Weinsteins but I can’t help myself. I thought the second trailer of the NINE musical flick couldn’t get any more awesome. Well I was wrong. In this third trailer, we finally hear the man speak. Daniel Day-Lewis is sporting a believable Italian accent as Guido Contini, perhaps because the actor did learn how to speak Italian for the movie according to IMDb trivia. If you have a couple of minutes to spare, the trivia page also lists some amazing names who were at one time either interested or considered for this movie, including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger (both Chicago alums), Amy Adams, Gwyneth Paltrow and Anne Hathaway. George Clooney, Johnny Depp and Antonio Banderas were also considered for the role of Guido, although I can’t imagine any of them in that role after seeing such a virtuosic performance by Day-Lewis.

Anyway, I LOVE this trailer. Though I didn’t mind the musical montages of the previous two, it’s nice to finally get the gist of the story and the kind of predicament the renowned director is in. We also get a glimpse of the roles the nine women play in his life. Is it just me but in the little snippet I heard of Nicole Kidman’s singing brought back memories of Moulin Rouge. I’m assuming most of the actress playing the starlets are doing their own singing in this movie.

So, anybody else excited to see this flick?

Classic Flix Review: Frederico Fellini’s 8½ by Rockerdad

As a tribute to RTM’s recent post about ‘writer’s block’, and the fact that Daniel Day-Lewis is reprising the role of Guido in the film version of the revived musical NINE (out on Christmas Day), I thought it would be fitting to do a review of a classic film that delves into the depths of creative paralysis or artistic block. In 1963 Federico Fellini wrote and directed what many consider to be his greatest work, 8½.

The film figuratively and literally centers around famed film director Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni) who has the tedious task of creating another successful film, implied as a science fiction story with a million dollar set-piece – a rocket launch pad in the Italian countryside. Unfortunately, life and love’s pressures (as well as the movie business) has rendered him impotent of any creative force or passion. As he struggles and juggles with all the role players in his life (mistresses, wife, writers, friends, producers, actors, film crew, even the catholic church), he retreats into his own dream world/fantasy in search for inspiration and meaning. His reality meshes with dreams, nightmares, fantasies, childhood memories – often losing himself in them. One glimmer of hope emerges, in the form of purity, embodied by the beautiful Claudia Cardinale – a recurring vision in his jumbled reality.

The film seamlessly veers from Guido’s reality to his fantasies/memories/dreams and vice versa as he is trying to piece together an unrealized film. At first viewing (for those unfamiliar with Fellini) it is disorienting to move from one cinematic reality to the next – but with subsequent viewings, the sections actually form a structure a la verse-chorus-refrain, etc. Shot in black & white, it is very stylish in its cinematography. As with most Fellini films, the dialogue is dubbed in post production – something Fellini considered as part of his art form. The actors would mouth or say lines not necessarily matching the lines of the dubbed track. In other words, the dialogue isn’t finalized until they are dubbed. The flatness of the audio track in sequence with the visuals add that “foreign film” and “independent” flavor I suspect is a factor in its mystique.

While abound with surreal images and sequences (many of which remind me of Magritte and some of Maya Deren’s experimental work), the film also has an abundance of very poignant vignettes of Guido’s childhood, reportedly inspired by Fellini’s own experiences. There is a scene in which a very young Guido is bathed and put to sleep with his brothers and sisters and the words “Asa Nisi Masa” are introduced, that is so tender and nostalgic that there is little doubt this particular event originated from a real memory. Fellini would revisit these memories in Amarcord years later.

The title refers to the number of films Fellini has made up to that point – which is 7 full length features (including 8½) plus 2 short films. The film divided critics back in 1963, but it went on to nab Oscar’s® Best Foreign Film which is one reason it’s found life on the shelves since the heyday of the video rental store. Though quite arty for most people, more literal remakes have been based on 8½, most notably Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz (1979), and Tom DeCillo’s Living in Oblivion (1995). But if ever there was a film that accurately and interestingly depicted a good example of a director’s (or any artist’s) creative process, this is it.

Check out the original trailer for 81/2:

Brand new trailer of Daniel-Day Lewis’ musical NINE

If I’d ever spend part of my Christmas day in a theater, it’d be to watch this one. You’ll find some details about the movie in my previous post back in August. The Weinstein company recently released this brand-new trailer that makes me want to get up and dance!

Boy, that is one red-hot and vivacious preview with a plethora of Academy Award-winning actresses all in one movie! Not to mention double Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis, looking melancholy yet sexy as the world famous film director Guido Contini. All the women look marvelous and seem to be having the time of their lives. Also check out the attractive poster of the film that’d surely appeal to both sexes.

NINE musical poster
Click to view the larger version in CINEMATICAL website

The story of NINE is based on Arthur Kopit’s book of the same name, which was derived from an Italian play by Mario Fratti inspired by Federico Fellini’s autobiographical film . Be on the lookout for the 81/2 classic flix review by Rockerdad coming to you tomorrow.

Daniel Day-Lewis musical NINE’s release delayed

This is a bummer! I was really looking forward to seeing this on Thanksgiving weekend, alas the release has been pushed back to December 25. Well at least I don’t have to wait as long as four months, which is the case for Scorcese’s Shutter Island (delayed from October to February!).

Kate Hudson and Daniel Day Lewis
Day-Lewis with Kate Hudson

According to aceshowbiz, the move was made by The Weinstein Company who’ll distribute the flick, because the studio’s other movie The Road, featuring Viggo Mortensen, Guy Pearce and Charlize Theron, finally settled on the November 25 date. So this has nothing to do with a rumored production delays. The Christmas release means it’s now competing with the highly anticipated Guy Ritchie flick Sherlock Holmes and the Meryl Streep rom-com It’s Complicated (also starring Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin).

To me, there’s no competition here, I’d definitely see NINE before the other two, just see the fabulous trailer and you’ll know what I mean. Even if you aren’t into musicals, the cast alone should at least piqued your interest.

Led by the dashing and brilliant Daniel Day-Lewis as world famous film director Guido Contini, it is supported by Marion Cotillard as Contini’s wife Luisa, Penelope Cruz as his sultry mistress Carla, Nicole Kidman as his film star muse Claudia Graham, Judi Dench as his confidant and costume designer Lily, Kate Hudson as young American fashion journalist Stephanie, Sophia Loren as his mother, and Stacy Ferguson aka Fergie as Saraghina.

Now that’s what I call a real star-studded cast!