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Show Stopper: Rob Marshall’s “Nine”

Show Stopper: Rob Marshall's "Nine"

Nine opens with the insistent clang of a chime, like the shudder of a church bell. Listen closely, as it’s the death knell for the movie musical. Of course that should be qualified a bit: it’s actually the tenth or eleventh harbinger of doom for the genre that’s been heard in various forms since the late 1960s. What makes this one especially resounding is that it comes at the beginning of the latest film by Rob Marshall, who has become the go-to guy for the big-screen song-and-dance film. It should now be clear, with the release of Nine, that Marshall’s ascendance is thanks to pure and simple opportunity; there’s no competition to bolster quality in the movie-musical racket. Hence in recent years we’ve had the slovenly Mamma Mia!, the fitfully dramatized but vocally challenged Sweeney Todd, and now Marshall’s latest, a dead-fish fiasco. Where his movie debut, Chicago, betrayed his cinematic inexperience and his camp-classic follow-up Memoirs of a Geisha laid bare the idiocy beneath the incompetence, Nine, effort number three, adapted from the 1982 musical that was in turn based on Fellini’s 1963 masterpiece 8 ½, synthesizes all of his worst tendencies into something roiling, monotonous, and ghastly impersonal. Read Michael Koresky on Nine.

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