May 10, 2011

9 Reasons Why Michael Winterbottom’s 9 songs is Best Left Unsung



1. 9 Songs utilizes a cheap and unsuccessful gimmick: Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate a director (like John Waters) who can successfully utilize a gimmick, yet the cheap pseudo-erotic sex scenes featured in 9 Songs – which are about as sexually alluring as the putrid meat of roadkill – add nothing of value to this ultimately deplorable film.  Not even unsimulated gratuitous sex could save this shallow and pathetically pretentious work of would-be erotic art. I certainly was not surprised when the female protagonist asks her banal boy toy, “Do you think I look like a boy.” Indeed, she does. Despite its inability to titillate, 9 Songs was considered (by the Guardian) the most “sexually explicit” mainstream film upon its initial release. I guess the folks at the Guardian have yet to see Larry Clark's Ken Park.  Unlike Clark's sleazy, yet undeniably entertaining (and still unreleased in the U.S.) film Ken Park, 9 song features no redeeming qualities.

2. All 9 Songs suck: 9 Songs is divided into 9 chapters via 9 concert performances. If you like mediocre mainstream "indie" music (from bands like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the Dandy Warhols), 9 Songs is a film that you might enjoy.  I personally found the music to be so repellent that I had to forward through most of the maladroitly shot (the concert footage resembles the kind of cellphone-camera-shot bootleg videos that you find on YouTube) concert scenes. I assume the bands featured in the film are supposed to be sexy rock acts that perform equally titillating songs, but, of course, I would rather dump cold water on my crotch than have to listen such musical platitudes again.  The only thing I learned while watching 9 Songs is that certain people become hypnotized at rock concerts and end up hooking up with unstable sex partners.  Maybe all those eccentric Southern Baptist groups that protested against rock 'n' roll during the 1960s were right in regards to their belief that musical genre has sinister hypnotic qualities.



3. 9 Songs is a prosaic work of pseudo-poetry: Despite attempting to construct 9 Songs as a digital video poem of sorts; Michael Winterbottom created a flick that does the total opposite of poetry: dulling the senses and degrading the organic, thus turning sex into a cheap commodity.  Instead of portraying sex in a more extravagant light, Winterbottom demotes it to a level comparable to that of a man defecating on a toilet after an all-night buffet at a Chinese restaurant.  Of course - in the modern world - amateurishly shot sex scenes are generally considered high art.

4. Porn is better: Despite the contrived and inauthentic nature of porn, most of it is certainly more erotic than 9 Songs. The only type of person that would revere 9 Songs is someone who is too snooty to watch honest porn, so they use the film as a poor substitute for the real thing.

5. 9 Songs is nothing new: European directors have been producing artsy fartsy pornography for decades that is actually quite erotic. Maybe someone should have lent Michael Winterbottom a film directed by a master "erotic art house" auteur like Tinto Brass or a Radley Metzger film before the uninspired filmmaker made the artistic mistake of directing a gutter-grade film like 9 Songs.


6. The film wallows in memories that are unmemorable: Through sex and song, boring protagonist Matt stews in a cold potboiler and recollects on the unremarkable. Of course, it is purely the director’s fault that 9 Songs fails to make an adequate case for the purported remarkableness of the protagonist’s fading memories.

7. Putting a homely hoe on a pedestal: In one particularly telling scene in 9 Songs, the boyish female protagonist tells her boyfriend about all the foreign lovers she has been with, as if her many sexual partner are sparkling trophies that confirm her imagined intercultural refinement. She is also a drug addict who snorts various things up her nose. The tragedy contained within 9 Songs is not that the protagonist loses his lover, but that he glorifies such a blatantly inglorious and cumbersome quasi-harlot.


8. 9 Songs is too long: Although the film is only about an hour in length, 9 Songs feels like a 3 hour journey into cinema purgatory. Everything that is expressed in the film could have been accomplished in a 5 minute montage. In fact, the sex-laden European vacation montage (which is approximately 4 minutes in length) featured in Robert Avary’s adaptation of The Rules of Attraction features more depth and content than in all 69 (that number is no doubt a cheap pun) minutes of 9 Songs. It seems like Michael Winterbottom came up with an idea for a film with 9 concert songs, 9 romance scenes and a 69 minute running time, yet neglected to equip 9 Songs with vital thematic and aesthetic content.


9. 9 Song is as aesthetically appealing as Steven Spielberg’s Rabbinic Beard: If 9 Songs manages to accomplish anything; it is offering the viewer an eclectically unappealing collection of carnal sights and strepitous sounds. Indeed, 9 Songs is a philistinic journey into the void of one couple’s unhealthy relationship, thus one expects a certain stark artiness to the film, yet the ultimate aesthetic effect is nil. 9 Songs has about as much beauty and content as camcorder recorded autopsy footage.


 In Conclusion9 Songs is an unremarkable film about a guy who is apparently smart (he is a climatologist), but suffers from unrefined taste in women.  Mr. Matt is a character that fails to conjure up empathy nor disdain in the viewer, as he is ultimately a forgettable man that lacks even the slightest inkling of a personality.  Although 9 Songs has been masqueraded as a work of art (by a marginal few); it is nothing more than crudely shot melodramatic smut.  If you have an interest in seeing real-life ejaculation and cunnilingus on your TV screen; skip 9 Songs and watch real pornography. 


-Ty E

2 comments:

MondoHeather said...

Now this is a hilarious and biting review! Love it and you basically confirmed my fears with this film. Never has the phrase "Homely hoe" been used more eloquently.

Infinite Jester said...

Really wish I'd read this before falling asleep to this dross last night...