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9 Songs

9 Songs Poster      My wife called 9 Songs "not completely untitillating," which, though dead-on accurate, isn't exactly a peter-meter boner for the most hardcore film ever from an above-board, non-X filmmaker. Michael Winterbottom, the respected British director of Welcome to Sarajevo and 24 Hour People, cast his Kama Sutra coupling with nice-looking people (Kieran O'Brien, Margo Stilley), and they have no inhibition going to town, up and downtown, orally and manually, in imaginatively kinky ways. So why isn't all this a celebratory turn-on, especially since the copulations are splendidly lit and shot?

      There's something psychologically unnerving, I think, about Winterbottom's cross-genre melding of artiness and prurience. Mind and eye and body are jerked about. I'm not sure why, but the more prettified and professional the filming, the more uncomfortable to watch raw fornication, a dildo crammed in a pussy, sperm oozing out of a hard cock. Maybe the Puritans were right: sex is, let's confess it, squalid and filthy after all, and should be banished from mainstream cinema.

      But the unpardonable mistake of 9 Songs is, of course, there's no friggin' story! We know practically nothing about our oft-entwined couple, Matt and Lisa, except that they like clubbing, fucking, and sucking. I mean, who doesn't? (Well, clubbing can get awfully old.) Those aren't bios. There's not a doubt that the same sex scenes would register as ten times as lusty accomplished by a twosome with out-of-the-sheets identities.

      Between bedroom trysts, Matt and Lisa clean their palates watching various headliners at London's Brixton Academy. There's some good music, but Winterbottom's videoing is frustratingly amateur, he mostly zooming in from the back of the club. Of the bands, the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is a knockout, and Michael Nyman plays mellow piano celebrating his 60 th birthday.

(Fall, 2005)


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