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Have Cheetah,Will View #262 – “Nine Lives” (2005)

It’s 8:23 pm
cold/dark

The cheetah is still spooked after watching “The Devil’s Doorway” so he asked if we could watch something a bit more quiet,I chuckled and said “Sure,why not!!?”. Secretly,I am still scared as well….I had to put my laundry baskets in another room…..

I sent the cheetah down stairs and he brought back “Nine Lives”. I think he thought it was the Kevin Spacey cat movie but it isn’t. It’s actually a beautiful experimental film written and directed by Rodrigo Garcia. In the special features,there is an hour long segment where Garcia and some of the cast talked about the experience of making the film.

What struck me the most was how Garcia described waking up one morning scared that he had only directed one film and would never get a chance to do another one and how it affected him. I can understand that feeling because as an artist,you want to leave a body of work behind,its one’s legacy so to speak. Directing just one film and especially an small indie art house film,Garcia was afraid his footprint would be too small to be remembered. So he was very motivated to make another film and thus “Nine Lives” was made.

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“Nine Lives” follows the lives of nine women in a one take 12 minute segment of their lives. Think about it for a minute,what would it be like to have just a 12 minute slice of your day filmed? Garcia would be filming me write this review and you would watch me for 12 minutes just typing.
That is the premise of “Nine Lives” and it works for almost all the segments. One segment fails terribly and is rather offensive and threatens to derail the film.
The segments while seemingly random,actually have connections to each other,you just have to pay attention to everyone,this may require a couple of viewings and they are not in order as well,Garcia played it smart by forcing the viewer to pay attention in the sequences and who pops up when.

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The segments feel like you are watching a series of micro-plays,there isn’t really any start,middle,finish….it really is 12 minutes of someone’s life.
The cast is brilliant and surprising…and it had to be handled by a very good and experienced cast,using new actors or those with no stage background wouldn’t have worked at all. The making of “Nine Lives” is almost a film in itself,it was filmed in 18 days,each segment got two days,one day of rehearsals and blocking,one day of filming.
Because these stories were done as a single take,every time there was a mistake,the ENTIRE scene had to be reshot! There was no editing involved,the actors said it was a very intense piece of work for most of them and they were all seasoned pros,including Oscar winners,Emmy winners and Obie winners…the amount of sustained energy to play their characters took a toll towards the end of the day but the resulting film was worth it.

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The cinematography by Xavier Perez Grobet is amazing and as much as Garcia’s script highlights his nine strong women,it also allows Grobet to showcase some expert work behind the camera.

I’m going to list the nine segments in order that I liked them along with the actors in the main role,I won’t discuss the scene because that would ruin the film for anyone who may watch it.

1. Seg. 9 which stars Glenn Close and Dakota Fanning
2. Seg. 8. which stars Kathy Baker and Joe Mantegna
3. Seg. 3 which stars Lisa Gay Hamilton
4. Seg. 5. which stars Ian McShane,Amanda Seyfried and Sissy Spacek
5. Seg. 1 which stars Elpidia Carillo
6. Seg. 2 which stars Robin Wright Penn and Jason Issacs (who does a terrific American accent)
7. Seg. 7.  which stars Sissy Spacek and Aidan Quinn.
8. Seg. 4   which stars Holly Hunter and Stephen Dillane
9. Seg  6.  which stars Amy Brennerman and William Fichtner.

“Nine Lives” was released by a studio that I don’t think I have reviewed anything from and that sort of surprises me because Magnolia Pictures has released some amazing films and of which I have bought quite a few when they were included in Dollar Tree movie sales. I think I need to revisit some of the films I watched from Magnolia before the cheetah and I started our reviews.

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“Nine Lives” has a run time of 1 hour 52 minutes and includes the hour long panel discussion I already mentioned,it also has a several making of featurettes as well.

2005 Sundance Film Festival - "Nine Lives" Premiere

I really enjoyed “Nine Lives” and while I disliked segment six on personal grounds,its still a movie I was glad to have picked up as a blind buy and I give a big thumbs up to Rodrigo Garcia for his fine film.

What movie have you bought on a whim only to be blown away with how good it is?
Drop a comment below because we are all about that kind of film watching!!

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