Movies – “Nine”. NEIN!

I should preface this somewhat-dignified rant with a very clear and cogent explanation of where I stand re: one Federico Fellini.

Fellini, great eye aside, was never that good of a filmmaker. He had one classic in him, “La Strada”, which you insult on pain of an ass-kicking, and a couple of pretty-good movies; “The White Sheik” is a cute little farce, “Nights of Cabiria” has its moments, “Il Bidone” is OK. But after he became successful, he disappeared so far up his own ass he could tongue his prostate (when Pasolini wasn’t doing it for him, HEY-YOOOOH!) and completely forgot that the pains of a closeted rich Italian guy aren’t very interesting to anybody who isn’t a closeted rich Italian guy. Fellini’s later career, especially alleged classics like “8 1/2” and “La Dolce Vita”, are interesting as historical curios instead of actual movies that you care about, and subjecting anybody to them is among the worst forms of cinematic cruelty.

So, yes, you could say I have a minor distaste for the man’s overall body of work, “La Strada” decidedly excepted (I am not kidding about the fistfight thing).

And even I find what I’ve seen of “Nine” so far to be grating and tone-deaf, so that should REALLY tell you something.

The very idea of the stage show honestly stuck in my craw. I have a theater degree, so I know more and have had to think about stage musicals more than anybody who kind of dislikes 95% of them really should, and one thing that annoys me is Broadway’s desperate attempt to stay relevant by sponging off of the movies. What’s even worse is when the sponging yields a hit, so we’re subjected to the movie of the show of the movie. OK, “Hairspray” worked, partially because the source material was a musical itself, and who knew Adam Shankman actually had it in him to manage not to suck? That said, there is little joy and happiness to be found in “The Producers”, and I suspect the inevitable movie of “Spamalot”, as funny as that show is, is gonna hurt.

And to be fair, I dislike Rob Marshall, not because of any lack of talent but because he’s a goddamn boring director, just like Sam Mendes and all the other directors of “handsome” pictures. He doesn’t make movies that he loves, or movies he is compelled to do. He makes movies that are designed to get major nominations and draw the herd of viewers I’ve taken to calling the Oscar Death March, the people who go to see every movie nominated in the major categories. Marshall does what he’s told, gets handed a great cinematographer, and turns out product. Don’t even pretend to me anybody will give a shit about “Chicago” or “Memoirs of a Geisha” in ten years: they barely give a shit about them NOW.

But, anyway, “Nine”. It’s one thing to hear about the man’s, hell, let’s just be done with it and call them “fetishes” and quite another to actually put that into practice. The trailer to “Nine” feels like a desultory class assignment: “Make a movie in the style of Fellini. It must be just long enough to make the audience feel they are watching art. It must feature a cast of actors who are noted for being talented and will take a paycheck (cast Judi Dench for extra credit).

I’m not going to link the trailer; the pain is easy to find. Suffice to say that this will get nominated no matter how middling and bourgeoisie it is because this year, Oscar’s got ten slots to fill. And they’ll fill those slots with something interesting when they’re dead, and not a second before.

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