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Blu-ray Reviews: Nine

Originally published in Australian HI-FI, Nov/Dec 2010, v.41#6
Last updated 30 August 2011

2009 - Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Australia
Director: Rob Marshall
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sandro Dori, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, PenÚlope Cruz, Judi Dench, Sophia Loren, Kate Hudson, Stacy Ferguson, Ricky Tognazzi, Giuseppe Cederna, Elio Germano, Roberto Nobile, Andrea Di Stefano and Romina Carancini

Movie: 3 Picture: 5.0 Sound: 5.0 Extras: 5

What a strange project Nine is. It is the movie musical of the stage musical of the movie, perhaps a little like Hairspray, if I may dare. But the original movie is considered to be a masterpiece: 8 1/2 by Frederico Fellini.

Fellini's movie is not easy. You have to pay close attention to the first half hour to have any idea of what it's about, yet it sits at #179 on the Top 250 list on the Internet Movie Database.

It, as is Nine, is about Guido Contini, a master film writer/director who is days away from starting his next movie, seemingly calm and in control, except that no-one has yet received a copy of the script. In a crisis of self doubt he has found himself unable to even start writing it.

In both the original and Nine, he must have developed enough of a story for set construction to take place (a towering rocket ship in the former), but his actors are hounding him for precise directions on what he will be doing, while he is running away from them, and everyone else, taking refuge in the arms and thoughts of various women.

In Nine, aside from couple by Guido himself (Daniel Day-Lewis), all the songs are sung by women important to him: his mistress (Penelope Cruz), his movie costumer (Judi Dench), his childhood prostitute (Fergie from The Black Eyed Peas), his wife (Marion Cotillard), a reporter who wants to seduce him (Kate Hudson), his mother (Sophia Loren) and his leading lady (Nicole Kidman).

As you can see, the cast is incredibly impressive. The songs are all right. My favourite was the driving 'Be Italian', sung by Fergie.

Less impressive is the movie. In neither movie is Guido admirable, but at least in the first the alienation and sense of being lost is conveyed enormously well, thanks to the camera work and the fantasy sequences. In Nine he seems so pedestrian, with no reason for his ennui. The music and dance is presented in a way strongly reminiscent of director Rob Marshall's earlier Chicago.

The sound was good and clean, with the music making fine use of the surround speakers to present some of its elements. This added to coherence -- the ear seems more able to identify individual musical elements where they are separated out in space. I enjoyed it most with the volume up high, so that the occasional percussive interlude projected strongly out in the middle of several of the songs.

Running time: 119 minutes
Picture: 2.35:1, 1080p24, MPEG4 AVC @ 25.99Mbps
Sound: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 24/48 3/4.1 @ 3114kbps (core: DTS 24/48 3/2.1 @ 1509kbps); Portuguese: DTS-HD Master Audio 24/48 3/4.1 @ 2773kbps (core: DTS 24/48 3/2.1 @ 1509kbps); Spanish: Dolby Digital 3/2.1 @ 640kbps; Commentary (Marshall/Deluca): Dolby Digital 2/0.0 @ 192kbps
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, English (Commentary), Spanish (Commentary), Portuguese (Commentary)
Extras: MovieIQ; BD-Live; Screen Actor's Guild Q&A (1080i60, MPEG4 AVC, DD2.0 @ 192kbps - 43 minutes); 8 Featurettes (1080i60, MPEG4 AVC, DD2.0 @ 192kbps - 61 mins); 1 Featurette (480i60, MPEG2, DD2.0 @ 192kbps - 3 mins); 2 Music Videos (480i60, MPEG2, DD2.0 @ 192kbps - 7 mins); 1 Music Video (1080p24, MPEG4 AVC, DD2.0 @ 192kbps - 4 mins)
Restrictions: Rated M (Australian rating); Locked to Regions A & B

The following video bitrate graph was generated by BDInfo 0.5.4:

Nine video bitrate graph

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