Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Packing Up and Moving.

After using Blogger for quite a while, the Desuko Movie Spot is finally moving on up. We've got a new look, some new features and even some new reviews, all at a new address: desukomoviespot.com. (But don't worry. Even though I've exported everything to the new site, this one will still be around for a while, just in case. But all future updates will take place over at the new place.) Be sure to reset your links accordingly and join us over there!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Nine (2009).

The Scoop:
Rob Marshall tries to recapture some of the magic of "Chicago" with "Nine," the film version of Arthur Kopit and Maury Yeston's 1982 Broadway musical, but is ultimately sabotaged by the thin source material.

At the center of the story is Daniel Day-Lewis playing Guido Contini, a world famous Italian film director who deals with personal and professional crises by turning to the many women in his life. If that plot sounds familiar, that's because it is swiped wholesale from Federico Fellini's much better "8 1/2."

The women who parade through Contini's life and fantasies -- each offering their brutally honest advice while belting out big musical numbers -- are his wife (Marion Cotillard), mistress (Penélope Cruz), mother (Sophia Loren), leading lady (Nicole Kidman), costume designer/confidant (Judi Dench), fondly remembered first sex partner (Fergie) and a novice American reporter (Kate Hudson). Cotillard and Cruz really steal the show here (which isn't hard to do against Day-Lewis' mopey screen presence) and Dench has some nice moments as well. Kidman is bland, Hudson is out of her league, Fergie doesn't do much but sing and dance (thankfully), and frankly I'm not sure how the glorious Loren got through this with a straight face.

The songs are fun but insubstantial, except for Cotillard's great "Take It All," which was written specifically for the film. However, Marshall, cinematographer Dion Beebe and choreographer John Deluca redeem even the weakest numbers with some energetic stagings.

But besides Cotillard and Cruz, the real stars of the show are art directors Simon Lamont, Peter Findley and Phil Harvey, and costume designer Colleen Atwood who create a vibrant, detailed and glamorous simulation of mod 1960s Rome. "Nine" may not have much going on under the surface, but thanks to them it's wonderful to look at.

Best Bit:
Cotillard laying it all out for the Oscar-nominated "Take It All."

Side Note:
Oddly enough, the play's title song "Nine" was one of several musical numbers cut from the film.

Companion Viewing:
"8 1/2" (1963), if you want to see this sort of thing done right the first time.

Official site.

Take a Look:
The trailer:

"Take It All":

The music video for Kate Hudson's "Cinema Italiano":

Friday, March 05, 2010

Catalina Caper (1967).

The Scoop:
Get your flippy-floppies, people, because we're going on a boat!

The 1960s was awash in "Beach Party" knockoffs, and "Catalina Caper" was one of the worst of the bunch. While on a sunny summer vacation to Catalina Island, a group of groovy teens stop an inept group of upper crust thieves who are trying to smuggle some sort of valuable scroll out of the local museum, while rocking out to the occasional musical guest star. The intentions here are good and the acting and filmmaking are technically competent, but the story is a sorry mishmash.

If you're a B-movie fan, you find a lot of familiar faces here, including Tommy Kirk ("Mars Needs Women"), Del Moore ("Bachelor Father"), Jim Begg ("Village of the Giants"), Sue Casey ("Beach Girls and the Monster"), Michael Blodgett ("Beyond the Valley of the Dolls") and even Wonder Woman's" Lyle Wagonner. The musical numbers come courtesy of the Cascades, Carol Connors and the wildly out of place Little Richard.

These '60s teens-in-the-sun movies are always a fun diversion and worth your time -- even the ones with as many shortcomings as this one. It's worth checking out, even for the unintentional laughs.

Best Line:
"Look! The water fuzz!"

Side Note:
The Cascades' song "There's a New World Just Opening For Me" was written by Ray Davies of the Kinks.

Companion Viewing:
"Beach Party" (1963).

Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt.

Take a Look:
Little Richard! On a boat! Singing about scuba diving! I know, right?