Matt, a young glaciologist, soars across the vast, silent, icebound immensities of the South Pole as he recalls his love affair with Lisa. They meet at a mobbed rock concert in a vast music hall - London's Brixton Academy.... more » They are in bed at night's end. Together, over a period of several months, they pursue a mutual sexual passion whose stages unfold in counterpoint to nine live-concert songs. Featuring nine live concert performances not available anywhere else by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Von Bondies, Elbow, Primal Scream, The Dandy Warhols, Super Furry Animals, Franz Ferdinand and Michael Nyman.« less
"9 Songs tells a familiar story, but the way the story is told is innovative, poignant, and memorable. We found ourselves still talking about the movie hours later.
The sex which comprises the movie is explicit, but it is neither Holywood sex nor "porn movie" sex. The couple's physical relationship is real and honest, and tells the story of the movie. I was impressed with the idea of using sex as the primary narrative device, and the director's implementation of the idea is brilliantly executed. 9 songs tells its story well in a language most of us can understand."
To some, prurient, to some, nostalgic, but more than that...
Chris | formerly of Etton, nr Peterborough, Cambridgeshire | 06/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Some might consider this movie prurient, while to others it will seem sweetly nostalgic. Anyone who is looking at this review will already know that 9 Songs is famed for its full-on sex scenes. Some, however, will not be aware that it really is about the nature of memory and the waking-up to ordinary life's intangible fleeting beauty.
The main character is a British glaciologist through whose eyes, metaphorically, one "remembers" a relationship a lovely, egotistical, careless, charming, and crazy woman, not unlike the young women young men meet from time to time and with whom men try (unsuccessfully) to have a temporally enduring relationship.
Matt (Kieran O'Brien) is an ugly-handsome winsome working-class bloke made good in Tony Blair's New Britain. Lisa (Margot Stilley)is an American, obviously from what is called a "good family", curvaceously slim, statuesque (about two inches taller than Matt), educated, and unserious about both her relationship with Matt and her job. As for her "job", though we don't see much of it at all, it's obviously just a time-marking "playing about with typewriters and latchkeys and calling it work", as EM Forster called the occupations of upper middle class twenty-somethings who receive regular checks from the family back home. She a good-looking 21 year old American woman in London with time on her hands, and a liking for men.
Glaciology is a key thematic element in 9 Songs. Antarctica is a metaphor for one's memory. The snow laid down in the center of the continent becomes ice, trapping bubbles of air inside it. Those bubbles are the continent's "memory" of the weather on a certain day, a certain year. As more and more ice is laid down at the center, the earlier deposits move inecluctably toward the sea, there to be "calved" become bergs, and finally melt, leaving no trace behind.
Apart from Antarctica, there's not a lot more than performances by bands like the Dandy Warhols, Super Furry Animals, and so forth. Nine songs sung in really fun-looking London venues, to be exact, and, of course, the famous scenes of the couple making love. The lovemaking is more inferred than depicted ofttimes, but taken as a whole one would doubt that there is even a square centimetre of the protagonists' anatomies that is not unmistakably displayed in all its glory for all the world to see in this movie. The sex, for the most part, has a quality of warmly relational authenticity that anyone could recognize as very distinct from exploitative porn. As a result, the viewer seldom feels terribly voyeuristic, but rather the director seeks for the viewer to experience a reflective nostalgia, redolent of times past - which is, of course, a function of memory.
HOWEVER, the title of the film does not, I think, refer merely to the "songs" sung by the bands. My own theory is that the auteur, Michael Winterbottom, is alluding to the Chinese 13th century Yuan Dynasty cycle of poems, The Nine Songs, which is in many respects about the Shamanic quest. "Similar to the traditional shaman of Siberia, Central Asia and the Arctic, the wu enters into a trance state in performing ceremonies. However, unlike his northern counterparts, the Chinese shaman enters into a fleeting love relationship with the God (or Goddess)." [taken from Zekeriyah's excellent review of the book of the same name on this site]
You see, this film is not only about memory, and what a guy remembers about a relationship with a woman he has loved (which guys being who they are, is mostly the perceived high points, like going to shows and making love), but 9 Songs also seems to be an extended metaphor for the Shamanic quest, which in the end requires union with the mysterious Beloved other, the mythological dakini, who both enlivens and kills her lover simultaneously and then simply disappears into the sky, and leaves behind (there's that word, memory, again) as her gift a precious, elusive realization of the ugly-beautiful reality of things-as-they-are.
With that in mind, see this movie. It's not really about sex."
9 Songs - Breaking new ground or an embarassment?
Mr D. | Cave Creek, Az United States | 08/21/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
""I've read a few reviews on 9 songs and one thing they all seem to agree upon is that the movie has no story. I can't disagree with them. There isn't much of a story, but if you pay attention you do arrive at some interesting conclusions."
"The plot of the movie can be boiled down to this, boy and girl meet at a, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, rock concert and go to his apt and f*ck. Another concert and another roll in the hay. With some small exceptions this is the modus operandi for nine concerts."
"Matt is a scientist, a glaciologist and Lisa is a visiting American college student. Matt tried to keep up with Lisa, but I got the impression that he was overmatched, with Lisa, whom I thought was an excitement junkie. She was also more into experimentation. At one point one point Matt went home by himself as she stayed with a woman."
"I couldn't figure out why the sex scenes seemed so well done - almost real. Then, as the movie progressed it became obvious. The bathtub scene with Matt and Lisa, the only actors in the movie, gave me the first clue. With Matt (Kieran O'Brien) leaning back on one side of the tub and Lisa (Margo Stilley) on the other, she uses her feet to massage his erect penis in full view of the viewers. That was about halfway through the movie and was only the beginning. Each sex scene thereafter, became increasing more explicit."
"After about three months of steady rock concerts and sex, Lisa tells Matt that she will soon be going back to America. Matt is crushed, so that afternoon Lisa cheers him up by ... how can I say this? Blowing him! The viewer gets to see the whole episode, just like a porn movie. She sucks on him for about thirty seconds and then cuts away to a long view of Matt, ejaculating on himself."
"On the day she is scheduled to leave, the spectator is presented a vision of the couple having intercourse including clear view of phallic penetration."
"Speaking of the rock concerts, rock music fans, especially fans of British bands may be interested in the bands of the various concerts. I managed to dig seven of them out - they are:"
* Super Furry Animals * The Dandy Warhol * Franz Ferdinand * Elbow * Black Rebel Motorcycle Club * The Von Bondies * Primal Scream
"What one might get out of this movie depends upon what one's expectations are. No, it doesn't have much of a story, but I thought the overall product was entertaining and very watchable. The movie was realistic in everyway (not just the sex) and earthy. The acting by the two actors was really something to behold and so was the cinematography."
"It should be pointed out that the writer, producer, director of 9 Songs, felt there was a double standard regarding reading material vs film. He thought, since many erotic and even mainstream stories are extremely graphic, why can't mainstream movies also depict graphic sex. In comparison to the present day trend of filthy degrading pornographic films, 9 songs must seem extremely tame. Still, it is a big leap forward in sexuality from the average boring, poorly done soft-core movie. Therefore, I'm going against the grain, and giving the movie 4 stars.""
SEXUALLY EXPLICIT BUT BLAND
Robin Simmons | Palm Springs area, CA United States | 09/19/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
Pushing the envelope for explicit, over the counter home videos, 9 SONGS (Tartan) is about one year of sex and rock'n roll in the life of two lovers.
Matt is a young glaciologist. He meets Lisa at a London rock concert. That night they start an affair. In between attending more concerts, they make passionate love. It's for real and explicit. Nine live-concert song footage is intercut with their coke-snorting, sexual encounters creating a sometimes ironic reflection of their intense physical but otherwise rather bland relationship. And finally, all this takes place in the memory of Matt as he flies across the vast frozen wastelands of the South Pole.
This unscripted film is part musical, part drama, part documentary and part performance. It raises questions about the difference between pornography and art. Controversial and much buzzed about, this not fully satisfying experiment is of interest mainly as a novelty item by a usually innovative and creative director for what it could have been. And of course the sex. A special feature eliminates everything but the concert performances."
Sweet memories... Snapshots of a summer of sex and rock musi
dooby | 08/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I liked this film. I bought the DVD because of its notoriety but with full awareness of the generally dismal reviews it received. It turned out to be a surprisingly sweet little film. Not much of a plot and not really a love story as such. It's more an experimental art film touching on memory - specifically the bittersweet memory of a lost love. A young Englishman remembers the short summer fling he had with a bright, vivacious, and beautiful 21-year old American girl. He obviously thought more of their summer tryst than she did. And when she leaves for home at the end of summer, he is devastated. He takes refuge in his work as a glaciologist, fleeing to the barren wastes of Antarctica. But if this film depicts what he thought of their relationship, it does beg the question, just how deep were his feelings towards her? If the only things you can recall of a relationship are the bouts of sex and rock concerts, that doesn't really say much for the relationship.
This film has been endlessly compared to porn by various critics, even by the official reviewer here on Amazon. I find the comparison rather unfair. Yes, it has explicit sex scenes which would not be out of place in a porn video. But that does not make it porn. Sex is a natural part of a relationship and a natural part of life. The film depicts it as such without apology and without shame. When the relationship is over, this young man thinks back and concentrates only on the sex because that, sadly but truthfully, was what was most important to him, much as he would like to believe otherwise.
The sex is hot. And more importantly, believable. Not the overblown silliness of porn. For people who have yet to see the film, make no mistake, everything is explicitly shown here, not lingering voyeuristically like in true porn but matter-of-factly like in a documentary. You see the couple engage in fellatio, cunnilingus and vaginal sex. And in a rare departure for a mainstream movie, you see the male partner ejaculate during fellatio. There are also 2 scenes where the young lovers experiment with mild bondage; blindfolds and tying down to the bed during sex. The actors are unknowns but they play their parts very well. Kieran O'Brien (Matt) looks like your average young London guy. Margo Stilley (Lisa) was in real life an American based in the UK and she is seriously cute.
I am not a fan of contemporary British rock music, so I endured the songs more than enjoyed them. But the believabilty of the intimate moments more than made up for it. The 9 songs recorded during 9 live concerts, act as chapter breaks between the bouts of sex.
The film was shot on Digital Video and is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio (enhanced for widescreen TV). Picture quality is fair considering the source material. Colours are strong and natural. Black levels are fine. Sharpness is satisfactory. Sound is available in both DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0. The sound is fair although rather lacking in Oomph for a rock concert, even when I did allow it get up to normal levels. I spent most of the time muting the volume during the rock concerts and boosting it to hear the dialogue. Optional Spanish subtitles are provided. There are about 30 minutes worth of interviews, 15 mins with Margo Stilley and about 7 mins each with Kieran O'Brien and director Michael Winterbottom. There are 5 separate music videos from the bands, The Dandy Warhols (Smoke it / The Last High), The Von Bondies (C'mon, C'mon) and Elbow (Intro-Meet the Band / Forget Myself). The film itself is playable as a concert only version, shorn of all the sex. I'm not sure who would want that but the option is there. Finally there is the theatrical trailer and a small photo gallery. The sex is hot but if you're looking for porn you'll be disappointed. If you're looking for a film that tells a story, like 90% of American audiences, you'll also be disappointed. But if you can appreciate a quietly reflective recollection of a lost period in someone's life, this could appeal to you."