Doodad Kind of Town

Looking Forward to: "Nine"
May 23, 2009, 6:06 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Up to now, I’ve been anticipating Rob Marshall’s “Nine” with more trepidation than eagerness.

For starters, “Nine” is based on a stage homage to “8 1/2.” (Please note that I said “homage to” not “adaptation of.” The stage musical takes considerable liberties the with plot and structure of the film which inspired it.) It’s one thing to base a stage musical on Fellini’s masterpiece, quite another to make a film of that musical and invite direct comparisons to the original – comparisons that aren’t likely to be favorable. I actually like Marshall as a director, but he ain’t no Fellini.

Secondly, I have a strong personal attachment to the stage version of “Nine,” having been in the cast of a 1993 Indianapolis production that was the peak experience of my acting days. So I have all kinds of expectations and preconceived notions that threaten to limit my enjoyment of the upcoming film. I certainly found that true of 2007’s “Sweeney Todd,” another musical in which I had once happily performed and to whose source material I was strongly attached.

But then I saw this —

Oh, my freakin’ God!!! That trailer (which was shown at Cannes this week) has me absolutely panting for “Nine” to appear onscreen this fall. I’ve watched it three times already today. I can’t wait to watch it again.

Those two minutes manage to evoke not only “8 1/2,” and “La Dolce Vita,” but the stage musical itself, plus Marshall’s own “Cell Block Tango” and “Razzle Dazzle” numbers from “Chicago.” Maybe I haven’t been giving Mr. Marshall enough credit. Based on what I’m seeing here, “Nine” could be one helluva movie.

Time will tell. Come November, we’ll all get to decide for ourselves.


13 Comments so far
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You’re an actor, too, Patty…???I might’ve known. That is absolutely NO SURPRISE AT ALL. Now you have to satisfy my burning curiosity. What parts did you play in NINE and SWEENEY TODD? (In all fairness, I don’t mean to put you on the spot. You are welcome to email me privately to tell me if you choose. But there will be no hard feelings on my part if you feel that’s info that you would prefer to keep to yourself. This is the internet, after all…) Well, I don’t mean to stir up crap. But this is the way I see it. DEFINITIVELY…I took in the road show incarnation of CHICAGO when the play came here. I thought it was fantastic. I saw the film twelve times. Based on my impression of that motion picture, I think ROB MARSHALL is an incredible director. Whenever I watch the DVD, it takes me about six hours to get through it. (I run my favourite scenes – the opening with ALL THAT JAZZ, CELL BLOCK TANGO, ALL I CARE ABOUT, ROXIE, MR. CELLOPHANE, RAZZLE DAZZLE, NOWADAYS and the outtake CLASS – over and over again.)It’s just unbelievable. It’s not only a superb achievement but a cinematic miracle. Just think of all the things that could have gone wrong. I have seen bits and pieces of various FELLINI films over the years. Finally went to that stupid little hellhole downtown to see LA DOLCE VITA about a month ago. I was never so bored in my god damned life. Yeah, I get that it’s supposed to be boring and shallow and empty. And your point is…? Just so I don’t come across as a raging Irish philistine, I think that Schlesinger satirized the jet set culture far more effectively a few years later in DARLING. My boyfriend is not as into film as I am. But he’s smart as a whip. Very funny and articulate. He fell asleep at the LA DOLCE VITA screening. On our way out, he saw that AMARCORD is going to be presented there this summer as well. “Looks hot. Are we going to that too?” I laughed hysterically, which was precisely the reaction he was going for. I said, “Honey, I think you know the answer to that.”I dunno. Some days I don’t know whether to kiss him or kick him. But he really is worth it in the end. I imagine 8 1/2 will be oversaturated on TV right around the time of NINE’S release. That always seems to happen. I intend to catch it then. It will be interesting to contrast and compare. But that will be the end of my explorations into FELLINI territory. It’s glaringly obvious that neither of us are going to be FELLINI aficionados. Ain’t gonna happen in either of our lifetimes. (If Rick ever reads this, he’ll have to forgive me…) All that aside, NINE looks spectacular. I am enormous fans of DAME JUDI, NICOLE, MARION, SOPHIA and of course DDL. Wish Penelope wasn’t in it. She’s a drag. They could’ve switched her out for someone like MONICA BELLUCCI. Too bad they didn’t. But them’s the breaks. I am madly looking forward to this. Should be mesmerizing. Looking back at old articles on the net, people were having fits in the 80s when RAUL JULIA and ANITA MORRIS were doing A CALL TO THE VATICAN in the original stage version. So this should be something to see.Just for the record, I’ve always wanted to play VELMA KELLY in CHICAGO. (Yeah, CZJ was a fiery, iconic force of nature. GLOROUS PERFECTION. But I still want to do it some day.)I’d have to lose the blonde for that. But that’s OK. I would never be realistically cast as ROXIE in any production. She has to project a sweet, innocent veneer. Even though she’s anything but. Has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of my acting. But no one would ever believe me as an innocent. They didn’t at 14. They certainly wouldn’t now. And there you have it…

Comment by Miranda Wilding

Miranda-Your comment makes me so happy!!So many movie bloggers profess unmitigated hatred for Rob Marshalll and “Chicago,” and it is so refreshing to find someone else out here who loves it. I’m of the opinion that most (not all, but most) people who hate “Chicago” don’t like musicals in general.I used to do a fair bit of acting in community theatre, but haven’t been on stage in almost 6 years. I never gave up my day job, nor did I ever make a serious bid for an acting career. Community theatre, of course, varies wildly in quality, but I was fortunate to do a lot in Indianpolis, where “community theatre” included professionally managed theatres with full-time, paid artistic directors and staff and dedicated performing spaces – only the actors and stage crew were unpaid, thus qualifying them as community theatre.I did not have large roles in either of these productions. I came close – sooooo close!!! AARGH! – to playing Mrs. Lovett in “Sweeney,” but wound up in the ensemble. The role I played in “Nine” isn’t likely to be in the film – I was one of four goofy German women featured in the song “The Germans at the Spa.” I belive those parts, as well as the song, were cut from the recent Broadway revival of “Nine,” so I don’t expect to see them in the film. (I specialized in playing roles that were severerly reduced in the film versions so I’m used to this. I played Fraulein Schnieder in “Cabaret” – a major supporting role with two big diva solos that was reduced to a cameo in the largely reworked plot of the film. Also, I was the Widow Corney in “Oliver” (her song and most of her part are gone in the film) and Nancy in “The Women” (the wisercracking, career gal best pal of the leading lady – all her best lines are given to Paulette Godard in the film.)Anyway, I would love to hear what you’ve done. I have a feeling you would be a fabulous Velma Kelly. There are always wigs to cover your blonde tresses. (Though a blonde Velma might be an interesting change.)As for Fellini,don’t give up on him. I”m no fan of “La Dolce Vita” myself – in fact, I’ve never been able to make it through the entire film. But both “8 1/2” and “Amarcord” are different matters entirely. I think you’d enjoy them.Lovely as always to hear from you, Miranda. Have a great Sunday!

Comment by Pat

8 1/2 already had a musical homage, it was called All That Jazz! I’d actually be tempted to say I prefer Fosse’s film, honestly.I like 8 1/2 but I’m not protective of it, so I have nothing against this musical remake (and come on, the musical play is very much an adaptation of 8 1/2. Maybe not a strict one, but no musical adaptation of a non-musical source ever is). But I just approach a Marshall production with speculation, especially a remake of Fellini. I don’t like Chicago but feel it kind of misses the point of Fosse’s intention, it more celebrates the actions of the characters than indicting them.

Comment by Ryan Kelly

I meant to say I don’t dislike Chicago.

Comment by Ryan Kelly

Ryan -“8 1/2” is actually one of my favorite films of all time- probably in my top 3 – although “All That Jazz” would make it into my top 10 or 12. So I share your love of the Fosse film.Adaptation or homage? You may have a point, depends on how fine a point you put on it. I’m going to guess that you saw the recent Broadway revival,which I did not,and I know some things in that production were changed from the original 1983 production of “Nine.”I though that the musical – much more pointedly than the Fellini film – made the Luisa/Carla/Claudia triad of wife,mistress, and muse a central focus of the story, plus the whole idea of making a musical film about Casanova doesn’t really have a direct parallel in “8 1/2.” At any rate, I think “Nine” veers from its source material more significantly than any other musical-based-on-film that I can recall, even allowing for the change in the time period made fro thestage version of “The Producers.”As for “Chicago,” I saw it again about a month ago, and it felt much darker and more cynical than I remembered. I’m not so sure that the film celebrates the characters any more than the stage musical did. Can you give me some examples of what you’re referring to?

Comment by Pat

Ahhhh…Testing 1,2,3…I had a long comment that I COULD NOT post because supposedly I had too many HTML tags.Considering that I was using none, well…Let’s just see how this goes ans then I will resume. Likely in several parts…

Comment by Miranda Wilding

OK.Blogger is f’ed. Right up the nostrils. It never goes through the first anywhere for me. NEVER. It was telling me just now that my URL had illegal characters in it.ILLEGAL CHARACTERS. Why, I oughta…Thank Christ I copied and pasted this elsewhere so that I could print this out. I’ll start over AGAIN…Patty…Well, I’m thrilled that my comment made you happy. It was my sincere and heartfelt pleasure.Bless you for your candour and your openness.Funny. When you said that you had performed in NINE and SWEENEY TODD, I was sure that you were going to say that the characters you played were NELLIE LOVATT and CARLA.It’s a wicked shame that you never got to play NELLIE. From what little I know of you, I think that that would be a thoroughly awesome role for you to take on. You could really go to town with that, girl.But it ain’t over yet. If that opportunity is meant to find you, it will. COUNT ON IT. You’d be a fantastic NELLIE. Or an awesome SALLY BOWLES.Your theatrical experience is VERY impressive. I have heard that some midwestern towns have incredible theatre. Sounds wild.Truthfully, I have done very little at this juncture. I took lots of drama and immersed myself in artistically based classes at school. Teachers always told me that I had serious talent and that I could make a career of it if I chose.But then I got out of high school and…It just seemed too daunting. People that were NOT in the business said, “It’s your dream. You have the glamour and you’ve got the talent. What the hell are you waiting for???”But you have to have far more than looks, sensuality and ability. You have to possess perseverance, drive and a very thick skin. It’s a long, hard road. Lots of pitstops and kicks in the teeth before you triumph. EVERYONE attempting to get a foothold gets skewered harshly. Hell, when I read about casting directors telling FAYE DUNAWAY that she was “in no way beautiful enough to be a movie star” and saying that they wanted GRACE KELLY for a role “because (she) wasn’t pretty”, I think that goes a long way towards illustrating just how ridiculous and cruel the business can be.Not to mention the nastiness when you do eventually get somewhere. With the internet and the media the way it is today, we’ve got unending tabloid culture 24/7.Plus there is another thing. I live in a very big city that’s EXTREMELY close to the American border. So I’m actually not a U.S. citizen. We have a lively theatrical scene here but it’s pretty small potatoes. If you want to be a serious film (or television) actor, you go to L.A.OF COURSE. It’s the promised land.Your chances of landing a green card or a working visa have been pretty slim since the 70s I’ve been told. But nowadays the whole game has changed.They film tons of movies and TV shows up here now and we have some excellent agencies. A good one will arrange for you to find worthy L.A. representation, fly you down for pilot season etc. if they think you have the potential.But ten years ago when I finished school the whole thing just seemed impossible. Much too difficult. Plus I was horribly sensitive. I take criticism (whether it’s reality based or not) very much to heart.Acting is a hard knock life full of challenges. I didn’t think I was up for it. But if there’s one guarantee in this existence (besides the fact that we’ll all be six feet under) it’s that things change…Earlier on in this decade, I was diagnosed with a very serious illness – the kind that many people don’t survive. The same week that I heard the news my mom passed away. She was the person I loved most in the entire world.IT WAS A BITCH.But I dug in my heels and got through it. My health is fine. I’m strong. I feel like I can do anything….and I’m very grateful to be alive.TO BE CONTINUED MOMENTARILY…

Comment by Miranda Wilding

OK. Onward and upward…As I was saying…I never expected to be writing or to have a website that has been successful well beyond my wildest dreams. Writing is my second love. But all of this just blindsided me.So I think this is it…It’s the era of me pulling up my bloody bootstraps and becoming the diva that people always said I should be. If I can make a success of the writing, then I’m capable of much more. There are a ton of career things that have to be coordinated. It’s complicated and it will be until I’m a working actor. But after going through all this, I am supremely confident. I know who I am…and I’d like to think that my mom would be proud of me. It’s all a process. I have always studied acting – privately or in class. I’m running monologues all the time at home. Now I have to get an agent. I was born to do this. We’ll see how it goes. Everyone close to me is like: “Well, it’s about time!!!”So I’m gonna give it my best shot…But enough about me…I’ll be right back…

Comment by Miranda Wilding

For the grand finale…OK. Last bit here…Well, as I was saying over at CP regarding the casting of CATWOMAN, you have to be right.VELMA has to be a complete contrast to ROXIE’S adorable (fake) blonde innocence. They’re both deliciously bad women. But VELMA is far more overt. She’s dangerous. She’s wild. (Hell, she killed her husband AND her own sister.) She wears her sensuality on her sleeve.ROXIE is far more like VELMA than anyone would ever imagine. But they both know it. (Maybe that’s why they hate each other so much…?) But outwardly ROXIE is the daisy strewn princess to VELMA’S dark, wicked evil queen.So I think that VELMA has to be a brunette of some description. She could be auburn or a redhead if you wanted to go somewhat subversive. Just like CATWOMAN.ROXIE HAS TO BE A BLONDE.So yeah, I was definitely thinking wigs. Thank you so much for that lovely compliment, honey. You’re wonderful.As to the whole CHICAGO thing, I think you’re right. This film won BEST PICTURE, a slew of OSCARS, made nearly 200 million dollars domestically and received excellent reviews.If people want to bitch about this in cyberspace, let them. I can all ready hear the echo…Most of those people (as you so wisely and eloquently stated) probably don’t like musicals. The other thing is: I think some righteous individuals just don’t want to accept the film for what it actually is. Yeah, the best thing would have been for BOB FOSSE to direct. But he’s gone. So this is what we’re left with….and I think ROB MARSHALL did a superb job and deserves every bit of credit he gets for it. Anybody that wants to object to the staging (the musical numbers taking place in ROXIE’S mind) can come up with a better idea.Personally, I can’t. I felt it worked BRILLIANTLY. But the film was a GRAND SUCCESS. So I think people should just shut their pieholes and give it up now.Your tastes are amazingly similar to mine (like sisters) and I’m very interested in the fact that you think AMARCORD is worth seeing.OK.Anything that I’ve read makes it sound less than intriguing and I sure as hell didn’t think much of LA DOLCE VITA. But if you think it’s worth it, I’d like to give it a try. Maybe I’ll make this my FELLINI summer. Ha ha. I guess I’ll drag my boy.Maybe he won’t fall asleep this time. Thanks so much for your great generosity and fabulous sense of humour, Patty. It’s always awesome to come hang out here. Even if getting your comments on site can be a little tough at times. Ahhhh, back to work….

Comment by Miranda Wilding

Miranda -I’m so sorry that Blogger was acting up. It’s a very frustrating site, I find. Seems like there are a lot of strange problems.Thank you for sharing so much about yourself. You seem to be a very wise young woman, and I’m sure all the pain you’ve dealt with (your illness, loss of your mother – for which I am so sorry, I can only imagine how tough that was) has contributed to that. You’re also very clear-eyed and realistic about the acting business, so I say “GO FOR IT!!!” What have you go to lose? With everything you’ve already weathered, what’s the worst that can happen? In the meantime, I think you should definitely write about your experiences because that could potentially inspire a lot of other people to follow their own dreams. (And because you have a gift for writing that you should continue to use.)And BTW, thank you for the kind comments. I’m flattered that you think I’d play Carla or Sally Bowles – I’m actually about old enough to be Sally’s mother now! I was always a comedic character actress, never a Carla-type, although I’ve been known to belt along with the Broadway cast recording of “Phone Call from the Vatican” – in the privacy of my own home, of course. Truth be told, I don’t sound too bad – but never, in my entire life, will I be able to hit that high C at the end. And try to drag your boyfriend to “Amarcord” this summer, because it’s a really fun film. If he hates it, tell him he can blame me!

Comment by Pat

I was in no way bitching about the films success. If I was ‘bitching’ about anything it’s that I think it misses the sophistication of Fosse’s work, and ultimately the point. It’s an enjoyable, well put together movie with some knock-out performances, but I almost feel like Marshall hollowed out Chicago.In answer to your question, Pat, I feel like the film’s visceral energy does more to align our sympathies with Roxie and Velma than it should. Take, for instance, the “He Had it Comin'” sequence. I just feel that rather than analyzing the emotional and social repercussions of the acts of those women, Marhsall gets caught up in the sheer energy of the sequence (which is undeniable) and misses the real point. I enjoyed the way Chicago was put together, combining the stately elegance of an old musical with the free-associational montage of an MTV music video, but I feel like that may wind up distorting the original intent.And that ending scene— everyone is happy, celebrating, applauding. They take out their fake Tommy Guns and dance around in their short skirts. Marhsall is so caught up in the glitz of it all that he forgets that these women are FREAKING MURDERERS. I don’t know if it outright endorses their actions, but it veers dangerously close.As always, love to hear your thoughts, Pat.

Comment by Ryan Kelly

Ryan -I appreciate your comments, but – just so you know – you’re not one of the “Chicago” haters I was referring to in my post. I’ve seen some real vitriol from other bloggers about “Chicago,” however.Gotta disagree with you,though. I’ve seen many, many productions of “Chicago,” dating back to not very long after Bob Fosse’s original 1975 Broadway production and I have NEVER seen a production that “analyzed the social and emotional repercussions” of the murderesses’ actions. It’s a dark show, but – to coin a bad phrase – it wears its darkness very lightly. It’s always been a show that’s at least as much -if not more – about dazzling dance routines than social commentary. And I highly doubt that Fosse’s production had any such agenda either. I mean, you’ve seen “All That Jazz,” so you know: the man turned his own open-heart surgery and imagined death into showbiz glitz. “Razzle Dazzle” was Fosse’s middle name. Besides which, the “He Had it Comin'” number in the film is one of many production numbers that clearly takes place in Roxie’s imagination (and is even launched -“Dancer in the Dark”-style – by the rythyms of late-night noises she hears in the jail.) If the number is thrilling and even celebratory, that’s not Marshall’s point of view, it’s Roxie’s.As I mentioned,I watched “Chicago” again very recently, and was struck by how venal and shallow both Velma and Roxie really are. I’ve never come away from any stage production of “Chicago” feeling that way; on stage, I’ve only found them to be funny and entertaining. So I think Marshall succeeded in portraying the darker side of the story pretty effectively.I have a feeling we may just have to agree to disagree on this one, Ryan, but that’s OK. The whole fun of having a movie blog is the discussing and debating, right?Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Comment by Pat

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.

Comment by 22

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