9 Songs

9 Songs

Kieran O’Brien as Matt
Margo Stilley as Lisa
A Bunch of Bands as Themselves
Directed by Michael Winterbottom

Standard Indy film with unknown actors, long band interludes, improvised dialogue, and hard core sex. Wait…hard core sex? Yes, this movie has real penetration and a money shot. Brown Bunny ain’t got nothing on this! You would think that since this sounds like a high budget porno then it would be interesting, sadly that is not the case. The entire bulk of the film is band/sex/band/sex/band/sex repeated until the end. It’s not even erotic sex, the scenes are not well lit and do not play like porn scenes, but they don’t play like normal movie sex scenes, either. Instead, there is just some raw feeling, as some of the scenes are far more explicit than others, but most have the same general tone of tediousness. Those of you who think sex could never be boring will be shocked by this film, it drains the sex out of sex.

The main character Matt is in Antarctica as a ice layer scientist and spends this film reminiscing about his affair with the American student Lisa played by Margo Stilley. They meet at a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club concert and head home to get it on, and they keep going to concerts and having sex for the rest of the movie. The bands are a mixture of the cream of the crop for the UK from 2004, and include Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Von Blondies, Elbow, Primal Scream, The Dandy Warhols, Super Furry Animals, Franz Ferdinand, and Michael Nyman. That’s only eight, I’m not sure where song number nine comes from, as I had stopped paying attention to the bands at that point. The sound production is terrible, though the soundtrack also lists Von Bondies, Salif Keita, Primal Scream, and Goldfrapp, so song number nine is probably from one of them. I simply do not care enough to find out, or research these bands, as this film has give them a sour note.

No one is watching this film for the bands, mind you. This film has it’s audience for one and only one reason, the sex. The film has a reputation from the scenes, and gained it’s popularity solely from them alone. One watch of the film sees why, the rest of it is devoid of any interesting value, and the sex scenes themselves are bland as plain white bread. What purpose do these scenes serve? You got me. You could theorize that they represent the relationship between Matt and Lisa, except their intensity do not seem to represent their relationship stages. What they consider the most graphic is near the end around the time the couple is having “problems” or something, though she is leaving anyway to go back to America. The closest parallel is when Lisa is favoring her vibrator to her boyfriend at the end, even if it isn’t that close to the end, though the rest is just a jumbled mess. Since the scenes add little storywise, characterwise, representativewise, or clockwise, or Pennywise the Clown, one can only assume they exist solely for shock value. As a regular citizen of the internet (or netizen as some people with more keystrokes per minute than IQ points use) I am above such petty shockery, and it would take a man with a maggot-ridden giant anus orally pleasuring an underage goat while on fire to even cause me to pause for a second. These scenes are very tame, by the buzz and build up given for this film, I expected much more.

What possessed director Michael Winterbottom to pull this off? I suspect only the fact that he wanted to see if he could do it. He did. And the world is much the worse for it. The film weighs in at 69 minutes, which I doubt was an accident. Although unknowns ad-libbing was successful for films such as Blair Witch, in this film they come off as having absolutely no chemistry. We do not know why they hooked up, why they stayed together, and they break up when she just goes home. I learned nothing about relationships thanks to this film. Should films teach about relationships? They don’t have to actively teach, but they should be a window into human interaction, especially if a relationship is the focal point of the damned movie. The failure here just points to the fact that the film was not a film about a failed relationship, but was instead the relationship was just a backdrop or excuse to allow Winterbottom to film real sex on screen. Matt is remembering her fondly from Antarctica, yet the relationship just seems to be two unchemistried uninteresting people who just get together and have meaningless sex while pretending to be in a relationship. Matt’s blather from Antarctica adds little except to show off meaningless comparisons, “It’s claustrophobia and agoraphobia in the same place – like two people in a bed.” How deep, ants couldn’t get their feet wet in that pool.

Maybe all of it was just a ploy to get some free concert tickets to the bands that appeared in the movie. Most of their sound is off in the venue they are in, it doesn’t translate well onto screen, though it does sound like many concert areas I have been to where the band is terrible and a distraction while you are waiting for the real band and they get in the way of conversation. Once again, I don’t think that was the point, as the bands seemed to be included to showcase them. Perhaps the bands and their songs were also to represent the relationship stages between Matt and Lisa. As I am unfamiliar with half of the bands, and the ones I do know don’t seem to fit in anywhere, and the audio of the songs are so poorly done to the point I couldn’t here the lyrics if I tried, that is another failure on the part of the filmmakers. Maybe listening to the soundtrack would answer some questions, but why should I do homework for a movie I am not very fond of and seems to have no substance? I am against grasping for straws to defend this, the film is beneath me, and it does not deserve my efforts to find meaning in what is probably nothing.

In conclusion, you can make a film just as good as this one. Take your favorite porn, where there are several scenes with the same two actors, and splice a few of your favorite bands concert scenes in between, and add a few more songs to the porn’s backgrounds, and you just made an arthouse film. Now go dress in a beret, grow a goatee, write bad poems, stalk coffeeshops, play the bongos, and call everyone who disagrees with you “squares.” You have now made it, congratulations! I look forward to your next film, images of nudists playing volleyball alternating with musical productions from Gilbert and Sullivan.

Rated 2/10 (Plane trip and random band.)

Two is more than deserved, but it gets a bonus point for the sex, because I’m a sucker.

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