Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Nines

Three stories all centred around a Ryan Reynolds character, all featuring a Hope Davis and Melissa McCarthy character, all somehow connected. Look for the Nines!
I find it difficult to understand how Hollywood let this one through, but I am glad they did. I can't say too much without really giving away the rather unlikely 'twist', and it's a twist that should make me wince, but in its own way the story treats the concept of authorship and identity in a perceptive way. Right now I'm teaching a module on scriptwriting, so the subtext of 'The Nines' really strikes a chord. Actually I say subtext, but in a film that features an actor, a screenwriter and a games designer, the subtext is very much on the surface. This should not work. It probably won't for most people, but I can't help but appreciate a movie that somehow blends Liebnitzian metaphysics with pop culture.
There is a wonderful novella by Robert Heinlein called 'The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag', a wonderful novella paradoxically let down a little by its HUGE ending. 'The Nines' is not dissimilar in its central idea, but somehow, possibly because of a really strong cast, it succeeds a little better with an ending that should let it down even more. Besides strong production values, the screenwriting is great - consider the integration of all the repeated elements, the tripartite structure masquerading as separate stories, the sharp dialogue and refreshing characters - it's just all in the service of a dumb story.
I also respect a movie that is brave enough to push an unorthodox female lead like Melissa McCarthy. She more than holds her own with the more high profile, and excellent, Reynolds and Davis.
In the last analysis, does the story hold up to scrutiny? No. (It's got more holes than a ripe wedge of Emmental.) Is it a slightly trivial rendering of a HUGE theme? Yes (I mean, set in Hollywood, for God's sake!). Is it audacious? Yes. Did I like it? Yes. Silly, certainly, but look for 'The Nines'!

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