Friday, January 22, 2010

I’m No Fan Of Musicals

I wake up and the house feels warm. I can even hear the reassuring clunk of the radiators being filled with hot water. I usually have to get up, put something on to be decent and warm as I go outside to reboot the boiler, which resides in a small outhouse. Well still I have to get up to put my hand on the radiator just to check... ouch. Blimey, the central heating is STILL working.

I dive back in bed and nudge L awake to tell her the good news. I think she’s impressed.

I give the dogs a good session on the park with the footballs, so good I practically have to carry them both home again afterwards. Then it’s over to Derby for the match. The glamour tie of the FA Cup 4th round, Derby v Doncaster. It lives down to expectations. Stupefying negativity from Derby, which in the end seems successful as they bore Doncaster into submission and manage to score with pretty much their first shot on target in the 88th minute, cracked in to the back of the net by our substitute left back. I’d say we’re off on a good cup run but it’s more of a drunken stagger than a run.

I stay in Derby as we’re off to see a film at 6.30 but it turns out L’s got the time wrong. Its 8.45 instead, which means after killing time with several pints I may well nod off during the film. Perhaps this may not be a bad thing or it might at least be advisable to be drunk when seeing what L’s got planned for me tonight.

Things start badly as I get chucked off my comfy settee upstairs at the Royal Standard where I am waiting for L with a pint of Ram Tam in my hand. They have a private party on upstairs but as its packed downstairs, I and several others leave and go elsewhere. So I hope that party was a money spinner for them, as they upset quite a few regulars.

As it happens L arrive at that moment and we head off to the Smithfield for a few Gorillas, a stout by Blue Monkey. Soon, though, the moment arrives and we head to Quad.

Now I'm no fan of musicals you know and personally I think if you’re going to do one, it belongs on the stage and not in the cinema. So Rob Marshall’s film adaptation of the Broadway show ‘Nine’ was not really on my radar but it was clearly on L’s. So being the dutiful partner... here we are.

Daniel Day Lewis unpacks an impressive Italian accent and becomes Guido Contini, the man who can’t say no. He can’t say no to his producer and especially he can’t say no to his women. His producer expects his new movie to start shooting in ten days but there’s one big problem, there’s no script. Just like an A Level student with an English essay due to be handed in, Guido hasn’t written it yet, he’s not even started it and with the cast already assembled he’s going to have a problem winging it.

The title, 'Nine', is the number of films Guido has directed. Although the original film that the play was based on was Fellini’s '8½'. The half is because he co-directed some films, but obviously this is too complicated for American audiences, hence the rounding up.

Or... ‘nine’ might just be the number of women he's sleeping with, which is, to be honest, most of the cast. Among which are his neglected wife Luisa (the rather lovely Marion Cotillard), his mistress Carla (Penelope Cruz) and his star actress Claudia (Nicole Kidman, cast as an actress).

Guido, now pretty much a burnt out creative force turns to his women for inspiration. They gleefully spring to his aid in their underwear and stockings, and sing to him. This seems to cause Day Lewis to hang his head and look shameful, miserable, desperate, depressed or whatever and to chain smoke, and to be honest doing it all rather well. It seems to dawn on Guido that not only is his film career stuffed but he has epic women problems as well.

That’s about it as regards plot... then there's the music. Ah. Doesn’t a musical live or die by its songs? Ah. It’s a long, slow death, then. As I didn’t see anyone tapping their foot or humming along to any of the songs, either during or on the way out, I assume the rest of the cinema agreed with me. This for a musical must be a very bad sign. Usually for a week after seeing a musical you have the songs stuck in your head, no matter how irritating and whether you want them there or not. Eventually you have to hardwire yourself into something decent on your ipod and remove them by force. No chance of that here. Even L hasn't asked me to download any of the numbers for her... Oh you know Dear, that one, the one that didn’t sound quite as samey as all the others, the one Kate Hudson mumbled her way through... nope, she’s not asked. Did I mention Kate Hudson’s in it? Must have blotted it from my mind, she pops up as fashion journalist and sings of course.

In fact musically, it’s all very democratic because everybody gets to sing, which is not necessarily wise... and get this, they even let Judi Dench, who pops up as his costume designer and friend, Lilli. Judi Dench? Why? Actually she's not terrible and she does seems to really enjoy herself, like she’s stormed the karaoke down your local after several litres of ill advised WKD but seriously, why?

They do get a proper singer in, in the shape of Fergie... no not that Fergie. Stacy not Sarah, her of the Black Eyed Peas. Not sure why on this one either, they don’t let her do anything else, speak or anything complicated and she gets to play a prostitute, I think. Sophia Loren on the other hand gets to play a dead person, Guido’s mother, reincarnated for a chat and yes you guessed it, one last song from beyond the grave.

Somehow they've half built a stage set for the film with no script. This serves to make it look even more like it should have stayed as a play. In fact, it might have worked on stage... or it might not but I'm no fan of musicals anyway, did I mention that. So it's all a bit of a slog where I found myself thinking, I've not had enough to drink. As you may gather, the film didn't do anything for me. Perhaps the whole point is that the film is clever and ironic and actually mirrors Guido’s plot, the one he hasn’t written.

As I said Day Lewis does ok, he’s good even, but the star is undoubtedly Marion Cotillard but then these two are the only characters that are given any kind of depth to work with. Cotillard carries what little plot there is, knowing that her husband is cheating on her but still appearing to be in command of the situation. Her husband needs her, and she knows it. As for the rest... Judi Dench does what Judi Dench does, apart from the singing... Cruz is.., well Cruz.

Everyone tells me that Penelope Cruz is sexy, so I assume she must be, but save for one film I saw her in, I can't abide her or her acting. Sorry, that's not very objective. So having Penelope Cruz's scantily clad crotch waved in my face didn't lift the standard of things too much to be honest.

Then there’s Nicole Kidman... but moving on.

L liked it and it did have some beautiful visuals, if you like that sort of thing but I'm no fan of musicals.

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