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August 18, 2005

"9 Songs"

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

I blogged here about how much I was looking forward to Michael Winterbottom's new film, the unrated, digital-video, art-porn experiment "9 Songs." I caught up with the movie recently and was glad I did. It's small, intense, poetic -- and, to be truthful, a little vague.


The earth may not have moved, but still I wasn't sorry to have spent the time watching the film. A London-based scientist (Kieran O'Brien) who studies Antarctica meets a waifish American art student (Margo Stilley) at a rock concert and has a brief romance with her. We're given the story in a nonlinear, formalized, yet improvisational package: nine rock performances; aerial shots of Antarctica with voice-over musings; messy, spur-of-the-moment domestic and sexual scenes. I didn't find the results as memorable as Winterbottom probably hoped they would be -- the affair doesn't seem momentous enough to justify the case the film makes for it. But the film is still pretty haunting.

The film is also remarkable as a DV experiment. The usual thing for directors contending with the challenge of trying to wrest some visual interest out of digital video is to try to make DV deliver film-quality beauty. Winterbottom took a different tack: He used DV to make a kind of project that probably can't be made these days using actual film. (What with budgets, experimentalism, and the difficulties of filming real sex.) Rather than elevating the technology to the level of "movie-ness," in other words, Winterbottom made a movie project that suits the DV medium. Smart one!

Downside: the video imagery isn't very sensual. Still, the actors are attractive and game, and demonstrate a lot of conviction. They also give the film their all, in many senses. Although much of the sex is hyper-explicit, the most eyebrow-raising moment, art-porn-wise, comes when Stilley is on her knees, straddling O'Brian. Up and down she goes. The camera tracks around behind her ... And we get a clear view not just of the actors' genitals doing their hydraulic-copulating thing, but of Stilley's butthole.

Could this the first time a legit, nonporn movie has shown off its lead actress's butthole? (A cute one, by the way.) Let's see ... There was that "almost" moment in "Two Moon Junction" ... And did Stefania Sandrelli and Tinto Brass grant us a similar view in "The Key"? ...

Hmm. IMDB seems to have nothing to say about the question. This calls for further research and reflection.



posted by Michael at August 18, 2005


I'd try to do a Google search regarding exposure of the Brown Starfish in non-porn movies, but somehow I suspect that almost all results will themselves be pornographic :)

Posted by: Peter on August 18, 2005 10:05 PM

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