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Feb 25, 2008

ReVideoView - The Nines

There's a really good chance you haven't heard of The Nines, much less seen it. In a few weeks of release in fall of 2007, it grossed less than $100,000. And though it is yet another "puzzle piece movie" (along the lines of Donnie Darko/Southland Tales and even writer/director John August's Go), the bigger mystery is why it went so unseen?

Starring Ryan Reynolds, Hope Davis and Go vet Melissa McCarthy, The Nines opened on just two screens in late August last year, but averaged $14k+ on each - a more than respectable debut for any art-house flick, much less one with as slight a budget as this. Considering that it features two high profile actors in Reynolds and Davis (each high profile in their own way, granted), one must wonder why it expanded to just three additional screens the following weekend?

But that's enough questions - time for some answers.

The film is split into three parts, with the three actors each playing a different-yet-related role in each part, for a total of...wait for it...nine characters. In the first, Reynolds is Gary, a David Caruso-like actor starring in a TV crime series. When we first meet him, he's just gone through a crisis of sorts, and we're catching him as he's about to break down, complemented by an awesome, "House of the Rising Sun"-like cover of Kim Wilde's "You Keep Me Hanging On," performed by The Ferris Wheel. In time, he will undergo house arrest, where he meets a mysterious neighbor (Davis) and is tended to by a publicist (McCarthy). Gary soon discovers that it may not be just his world that's falling apart, but something...more. To expand would be to ruin the fun.

In part two, Reynolds is now Gavin, an up and coming screenwriter who has just cast his friend (McCarthy, now playing herself, more or less) in his TV pilot, while he has been cast himself as the lead in a reality show about the making of his show (still with me?). Davis plays the VP of Development overseeing Gavin's pilot. For this segment, we learn from the DVD extras that Gavin is the fictional embodiment of August, who is friends with McCarthy in real life (a great short film that the two made some years back is also included on the DVD), and the drama they face in The Nines is parallel to what they went through when August was a TV writer himself.

For the third and final segment, we have Gabriel, loving father to Noelle and husband to Mary. After a day spent hiking, the three return to their car only to find that the battery is dead. With no cell phone service available in their remote location, Gabriel takes it upon himself to travel to higher ground to seek a better signal. Along the way, he encounters Sierra (Davis), who may or may not be able to assist him in his quest to find his way home.

The three narratives are each separate entities, but overlap and share pieces of their plots and characters. What starts as confusing to Gary and the viewer soon becomes clear, with hints to the mystery sprinkled throughout.

August has crafted a fine film, one filled with deep thoughts and sprawling ramifications, yet it manages to never take itself too seriously, getting a diverse performance from Reynolds, who can transition from comic to tragic and back with ease. Even more impressive is that it looks and feels like a much bigger film than it is, with each segment given a specific look (rich golds and reds in 16MM for the first, the second shot in digital video, and the third a blue/green 35MM). Also of note is that the house arrest scenes were shot in August's real-life house, one of the many details that makes this philosophy-tinged genre-less movie accessible and fun.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"Darn tootin!"


8 people have chosen wisely: on "ReVideoView - The Nines"

Nick said...

You hooked me with "Ryan Reynolds." And playing 3 different roles, at that... I'd only heard about this movie from other LAMBs... but I'll have to check it out. Sounds right up my alley.

Fletch said...

Funny you should say that - this weekend was unofficially "Ryan Reynolds Weekend," as we rented this, saw Definitely, Maybe in the theater, and saw most of Blade: Trinity on TV. Now I just need to get Waiting...

Mrs Fletch said...

I'd always thought of Ryan Reynolds as just another snarky guy from his role on "Two guys ... and a Pizza" and the bit part on Scrubs.

His last few movies have really changed my impression... he's a darned good actor with a lot more range than some of his older roles allowed.

Dave said...

I still want to see Southland Tales (it hasn't released near me as far as I know). I missed this one in the theaters too, but I saw it at the blockbuster a couple of days ago so I will definitely give it a look. I saw Definitely, Maybe last night since you mentioned it was good and I have to agree about Ryan Reynolds. He has really impressed me lately. Thanks for letting me know this is one to watch.

Fletch said...

You won't be getting Southland Tales in theaters, I'm afraid, but it ought to be on video soon (it might even be now, I can't say that I've heard anything one way or another).

Southland definitely strives for more than The Nines, but it also falls A LOT flatter. The Nines isn't the best or anything, but it's fun and very well put together, and I highly recommend the short film and the "Summing Up The Nines" features on the DVD. It just seems like it was a great movie to be a part of making, and has made me more aware of John August than I previously was.

Reynolds has impressed me a lot as well. He's quickly becoming a favorite...I hope his flicks on tap (Chaos Theory, the Wolverine spinoff) do him well...

Mrs Fletch said...

One more thing... you’ll never look at a koala bear the same way after watching "The Nines". :)

soundtrackgeek said...

I really liked this movie. It's sad that most people haven't heard about this. Spread the word Fletch, spread the word!

patrick said...

The Nines has a clever structure that wraps up nicely in the end. Reynolds was pretty good, he's a versatile actor, but it was Melissa McCarthy who did a particular great job of adding color to the whole thing.