In honor of the starry musical in theaters December 25, here are Nine movie picks to add razzle-dazzle to your DVD queue.
It's hard to conjure a film with more celebrity wattage or pedigree than Nine. Directed by Chicago' s Rob Marshall, the captivating new musical stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Guido Contini, a burned-out movie director who's dizzied by visitations both real and imagined from his wife (Marion Cotillard), mistress (Penelope Cruz), muse (Nicole Kidman), and a prostitute he knew long ago (Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson), among others. Nine is adapted from the Tony-winning stage musical of the same name, itself inspired by ( 1 ) 8 1/2, Federico Fellini's 1963 masterpiece about a filmmaker with "director's block" whose dreams, memories, and fantasies—full of women he has loved or longed for—play havoc with his everyday reality. Nine is hardly the only film 8 1/2 has inspired: Woody Allen's mordant ( 2 ) Stardust Memories (1980), the Oscar-winning movie-within-a-movie ( 3 ) Day for Night (1973), and the Cate Blanchett sequences in the Bob Dylan biopic ( 4 ) I'm Not There (2007) all pay tribute to 8 1/2' s satirical take on fame and nostalgia.
If Guido's trips down memory lane in Nine put you in a backward-glancing mood, take a look at earlier, lesser-known gems showcasing members of its blue-chip cast: Cruz as a pure and virginal (but restless, so restless!) village girl in the Spanish romantic comedy ( 5 ) Belle Epoque (1994), Kidman in a small but pivotal part in the perceptive Australian coming-of-age drama ( 6 ) Flirting (1991), and Cotillard as an avenging angel seeking rough justice for her lover's death in ( 7 ) A Very Long Engagement (2004). Or check out the one-two punch of polar-opposite roles that made Day-Lewis a star back in 1986: a mercurial gay punk in Stephen Frears's culture-clash comedy ( 8 ) My Beautiful Laundrette and the painfully repressed suitor in ( 9 ) A Room with a View. Even in his youth, the guy could do anything.