Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Reviews from the Hatch: The Ninth Gate

Tiff’s Take

The Ninth Gate is like a Naked Gun that actually takes itself seriously. It tries to be a steamy, seductive thriller, but just comes off as hokey. The storyline had a lot of promise, but it fizzled out quickly. I should have known early on in the movie, when Lena Olin’s character compared Johnny Depp’s character to a mercenary, that it would only get worse from there. He’s a book dealer for God’s sake!  

The acting was bland and stilted, and the overall film quality was incredibly poor. Not what I expected from a Roman Polanski movie. I read in a review prior to watching that Johnny Depp won’t even talk about this film. Now I know why.   

Closed Hatch, for sure. But at least it made me laugh.  

Pat’s Take

This could've been a really good movie. I like the premise that there is an evil book or books out there that can conjure up the devil. However after the plot was hatched, unfortunately all those involved seemed to lose their ambition, focus and direction. 

The acting was horrendous. I still don't get Johnny Depp. I see his value to the craft, but sometimes his quirkiness wears thin. I wish he would've played it straight because at times I thought I was watching Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther.

Spoiler Alert!

I didn't like that the devil or devil's helper was just hanging around. I'd rather have had the movie give me glimpses or shadows of Lucifer, but that wasn't the case. Instead I get a mysterious woman who floats through the air and has eyes that change colors. What the hell, Corso! Did you not just see either of those things just happen? Throughout the movie, Depp's character just glosses over events like this in such an "oh well" manner that it just wasn't plausible.

If you just wanna have some fun and not take yourself or a movie too serious than have at it, but if you are looking for a chilling Satan in the flesh flick this is not the one for you. Because I liked the plot, I'm gonna cheat and give it a half closed hatch.

Robert’s Take

With equal parts satanic conspiracy and detective story elements, The Ninth Gate strikes me as a mix between Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby and one of his more recent flicks, The Ghost Writer. The film is a mixed bag. It’s got a great story – creepy more than outright scary – and  acting from the cast ranging from decent (Lena Olin) to great (Frank Langella, Johnny Depp). However, it also has some hammy moments and miscellaneous goofiness – who was in charge of the stunt wires (because you can clearly see that shit in at least one scene)?

A common piece of advice on the film: see it more than once. Depp plays a book detective of sorts tracking down texts supposedly written by the devil and the story that plays out is somewhat twisty, turny, and long.

Nick’s Take

In distinct contrast with Tiffany’s and Pat’s takes on the film, I’d have to say that I enjoy this movie.  This was approximately the fifth time I’ve watched this film and while I do agree with Tiffany inasmuch as her opinion upon the first watch (I didn’t “get it” the first time I watched it either), I find that with each viewing, I like it a little more. The zany music that might throw some off at first I just find generally creepy. “The Woman’s” distorting face while riding Corso’s throbbing member is actually quite disturbing as well. There is an abundant use of the color red throughout the entire film also, which displays a sort of “Hell on Earth” appeal . . . and if you agree with any of the crazy-ass rich people in the movie, you might agree with that appeal. If you care to watch more than once, you will notice the extremely heavy overtones of the color before each death is revealed. 

A lot of this movie also reminds me of the stellar Kubrick pic, Eyes Wide Shut. Both were released in 1999 and maybe Polanski and Kubrick opted to collaborate on the separate projects in order to push a few of us, while watching them together (much like the three “different” books in Gate), into something deliciously wicked. I’ve not been made aware of another 1999 release of a similar nature, but I would be astounded to find one. Anyone know of such a film that could be tied into these two?  If so, you’re probably keeping it to yourself, like Frank Langella’s character.


  1. Definitely an interesting premise, but a missed opportunity as well. I find it amusing that Depp is a rare book dealer who constantly chain smokes around the rare books. Smoke would be terribly damaging to old print works, but I guess it looks cool on film to have a chain smoker.

  2. I've noticed The Ninth Gate turn up on lists of underrated movies, and I actually find the atmosphere of the film quite captivating and would recommend watching.(maybe because I like old books and reading it is a guilty pleasure)
    I like the twisty, turny elements of the story you allude to, Robert.
    I heard J Depp met his future wife Vanessa Paradise in France during filming.

  3. @markus - Good point about the smoking. Something we noticed was the scene with the old twins in Spain when one of them spills his cigarette ashes all over the book. Just wipes it off, no harm done.

    @Chris - There's definitely a faction of folks that think this movie is underrated - me, Nick, and yourself included. If nothing else, this film has audiences very divided. That might be the best kind of movie in my opinion.

    Thanks for reading/commenting, guys!