17 February 2014

The Ninth Gate


The Ninth Gate 1999
  • Director: Roman Polanski
  • Based on the book by Arturo Peréz-Reverte
  • Cast: Johnny Depp, Frank Langella, Lena Olin, Emmanuelle Seigner
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Johnny Depp  Nightmare on Elm Street, Platoon, Slow Burn, Cry-Baby, Edward Scissorhands, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Arizona Dream, Benny and Joon, Ed Wood, Don Juan DeMarco, Dead Man, Nick of Time, Donnie Brasco, The Brave, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Astronaut’s Wife, Sleepy Hollow, The Man Who Cried, Chocolat, Blow, From Hell, Lost in La Mancha, Pirates of the Caribbean (all four of them), Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Secret Window, Finding Neverland, Libertine, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Public Enemies, Alice in Wonderland, The Tourist
    • Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon, Good Night and Good Luck, Dave, The Diary of a Mad Housewife
    • Lena Olin  The Reader, The United States of Leland, Chocolat, Romeo Is Bleeding, Ansikte mot ansikte
    • Emmanuelle Seigner: Le scaphandre et le papillon, La vie en rose
    • Why? Johnny Depp. Sixteenth movie of JD marathon.
    • Seen: Three times.  Now: February 14, 2014

       A supernatural thriller about books should be my cup of tea and in truth, I quite like this films, warts and all.  It’s a very stylish and handsome production with lots of leather bound books and luxurious libraries and that makes up quite a lot for the muddled implausibility of the story.  JD’s character isn’t terribly interesting but there are moments of humour and excitement as villains chase him down dark streets, seduce and then attack him, stomp on his glasses and bonk him on the head, all for a priceless 17th century book written by the Devil. Luckily (or maybe not) he has a mysterious beautiful if inelegantly jeans-and-anorak clad Ninja chick to rescue him when necessary.
       It’s a bit like Rosemary’s Baby with the Devil lurking under the bourgeois intelligentsia veneer, which is essentially what Polanski’s films usually tend to be about.
       It’s silly and pretentious and JD has mostly lame lines and his machismo isn’t very convincing, especially since his nameless girlfriend is a lot more macho than he is.  But he does look very distinguished with his glasses (new ones after the others were broken) and graying hair at his temples.  And the French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and whatever settings are gorgeous.
       Not JD’s or Polanski’s best efforts by a long shot but murkily entertaining.

2 ½ * of 5

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