9 Songs (2004) Poster

(2004)

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7/10
Possible the first pornographic 'date movie' that lacks the hardcore edge guys expect but does take mainstream ADULT movies to the next level - REAL sex!
SONNYK_USA25 August 2005
How does a modern man recall his last 'love' relationship? In this case, by the songs they shared together. The man in question is a glaciologist who's airborne research over Antarctica spurs a chronological series of memories broken up by nine LIVE concert segments. To sum up the simplistic plot line of the flashbacks, the two young lovers meet at a rock concert and then each major sex scene at their Islington flat is punctuated with brief concert segments (shot guerrilla-style with the couple in attendance).

Director Michael Winterbottom ("24 Hour Party People") has actually done Hollywood (and Planned Parenthood) a service by taking out the 'fake' lovemaking scenes audiences have grown accustomed to and replaced them with REAL sex, actual condoms IN USE, and a female (or male) orgasm that hasn't been staged for dramatic effect.

Seriously, the porn industry should take note if this film has any commercial success in the USA, because for my money I'd rather have my human sexuality nicely photographed, lit well, and true-to-life than filled with emotionally forced bad acting, flat lighting, and fake orgasms (with even faker breasts). Name one porn movie with fantastic helicopter shots of Antarctica's icy surface with a science lesson tossed in too. Nada.

Best of all are the honest, first-rate acting performances from both Brit acting veteran Kieran O'Brian ("24 Hour Party People") as 'Matt', the very lucky older guy (age 31), and 'Lisa' (Margo Stilley), the young American waif, who gets picked up at a rock concert one night at London's Brixton Academy.

In England, where this film has already been released there was quite a brouhaha as first-time movie actress Margo Stilley (age 21) supposedly tried to have her name removed from the credits. Luckily, the scathing reviews by the British press have worn off and the film is being released in the USA with Margo credited and NO NC-17 rating.

Although a first-time principle actress, Margo's performance is noteworthy in that her improvised dialogue not only rings true but it speaks to the neuroses of many young 'wild' females way beyond the Paris Hilton experience. She even creates a little comic relief when confronting her 'boyness' in the bathroom mirror.

In retrospect, I don't think this film has the artistic merit of last year's ode to eroticism (Bertolucci's "The Dreamers"), but director Michael Winterbottom does make a compelling argument for taking sex scenes to their natural conclusion. Adult audiences are gravitating more and more to NC-17 rated movies (re: "The Brown Bunny," etc.) and it may be time for local cinemas (and Hollywood) to grow up. Hey, if Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt really are lovers then why couldn't they have 'condom sex' on screen for a change, and how much more of an impact would that have on college-age adults practicing 'unsafe' sex than thousands of hours of PSA's and sex-ed classes! Even if sex on the big screen isn't your thing, this film is so pure in its intentions it's practically a 'date movie' (except blind dates). Even the ladies will enjoy the sensitive approach to the material as the sexual exploits build from cunnilingus to some mild S&M, eventually progressing to the de rigeur 'cum shot'. As I said, it's an ADULTS ONLY experience, but one that might rekindle the sexual romance in your own relationships and give you a forum to converse with your partner about a sensitive subject (in America anyway).
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An anti-climax
rogerdarlington31 March 2005
In the (admittedly unlikely) eventuality that someone wandered into a cinema expecting this to be a musical, a rude shock would ensue, since this is the most sexually explicit mainstream film ever exhibited in Britain. Indeed the only mainstream movie I've previously seen to compare in explicitness was the 1976 Japanese work "Ai No Corrida" ("In the Realm Of The Senses"), but this work goes further with a scene of ejaculation, as well as fellatio, cunnilingus and penetrative sex. Since this is the work of accomplished British director Michael Winterbottom ("In This World"), one cannot possibly regard this is as pornography - besides anything else, porn features far more voluptuous women and portrays the sex from an exclusively male point of view, whereas the sex here is realistic (as well as real) and as female-oriented as much as male.

The problem is that the film appears to be utterly meaningless. A British research geologist Matt (Kieran O'Brien) goes to London gigs and has sex with American student Lisa (Margot Stilley), but there is no characterisation or plot or even a script (the dialogue was improvised and is banal). Even the music seems to bear no relationship to the lovers and - except for some haunting work from Michael Nyman - is dreary gunge. Shot on low budget digital video, the picture is as grey as the subject matter and the only light-hearted aspect is the rather unsubtle joke of the (mercifully short) running time (69 minutes). Come again? No chance.
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Physical love is a dead end ("L'Amour physique est sans issue")
consul-225 January 2005
I had read some reviews and comments from the Director before seeing "Nine Songs" so I had adapted my viewing mode accordingly. I armed myself with the kind of cold, intellectualized, high-culture glasses one uses to see relevant contemporary art. Most of the times it won't be neither an esthetically satisfactory experience nor a necessarily pleasant emotional experience but if we can see the point of the artist and if that point seems in resonance with one's curiosity and awareness of the world around, that will be good enough. From that somewhat minimalist expectations' level viewpoint, "Nine Songs" did the trick. I can see Michael Winterbottom's point. Why can a writer engage in sexual imagery with no restrictions and a film author can't do the same? There is also, I think, a honest experimental tone in all that. Something like "Let's see if it works to ask the actors to go all the way. Let's see if we can stay inside serious film making and not add an item to the increasingly inflated porn film list." I think MW managed to sail through. Yes, it can be done (but, at what a price for the actors it remains to be seen); yes, it's definitely miles away from porn. As to if this incursion into real sex in the picture is as effective as explicit sex in literature, I'm afraid that MW is no Houellebecq. Sex in the daring novels of Houllebecq retain a kind of legitimacy because in the center of the plot there is a couple where love between the two is expressing itself (although fed by some rather non-conventional sexual behavior). Sex in Sade or in other libertine writers was deliberately tabu-breaking, and liberating in a way. The extremely good quality of the writing (both in Houellebecq and Sade) is a crucial element in allowing the authors who engage in such edgy fields to get away with it. In "Nine Songs" the couple fails to touch us, there is no love there (not even the good chemistry of sexual love), and the "writing" in film terms is not that impressive. It resembles more a documentary, which in fact it is ("How to introduce explicit live sex in mainstream cinema"). We end up leaving the screening room with the frustrating sense that an opportunity was lost. Like a piece of rather cold contemporary art it challenges you, it makes you engage in argument with your friends, it makes you wish to write a comment on web site. But we enjoy good cinema, not merely relate to.Enjoyment is not there.
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5/10
A Michael Winterbottom curiosity
maatmouse6 August 2005
I came to this Michael Winterbottom film from one of his previous efforts starring Samantha Morton and Tim Robbins. I had never heard of him as a director and when Sight and Sound (the house magazine of the BFI) did an article on him I thought he was worthy of attention.

Another reason for seeing this film was the promise of being able to watch a couple having actual sex and no merely faked orgasms and suggested oral sex either and no pornography. I quite wanted to be reminded of the reasons why two people can get together because of what they have in common.

Winterbottom's film is not pornography at all. It is merely a study of a relationship seen through the context of real sex (what nearly all of us have experienced once we are a certain age (18+ usually) and are not bound by religious considerations ie the Catholic priesthood) and popular music. That's all. And the cast are two everyday folk. They are not artificially enhanced porn actors or glossed up dolls for the benefit of the viewer. It is a very much warts and all film, although I have much admiration for Winterbottom to persuade any actor to show the camera (and thus the audience) his real erection and later orgasm.

Once the novelty of watching real adult sex wears off, however, there is little else left and that's the real disappointment of this film. Nevertheless it is an adult movie and some may enjoy it.
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1/10
A big fuss about nothing.
purered1 August 2006
The fuss in the media, and by word of mouth, led me to want to see this film. I have always had a deep interest in censorship, be it of film, music, art or any freedom of expression.

I approached this film with the hope that it had been passed by the censors because it had some kind of beautiful message or story to tell. That the overall worth of the film had outweighed the controversy of the sexual content and it was such a well made film that to deny it a release would have been an injustice to film making.

But I was deeply disappointed. If you take away the explicit content of the film, it has nothing. It says nothing. It goes nowhere.

It has no particular storyline or insight to offer, the sex scenes are all it has to carry it. Without that it becomes nothing but a collection of badly filmed concert footage. As for the musical artists chosen, they are like the film..for twenty-somethings who think they are being daring and are pushing the boundaries, but are walking the safest path right down the middle of the road.

The characters are not developed at all, and what you do see and learn of them makes them instantly unlikable. Neither are they particularly attractive- which makes the sexual content unpleasant to watch. It may be (slightly) graphic but those people watching only for the hope of a sexual thrill will also be very disappointed.

I would much rather have seen this film without the graphic sexual content, and a more satisfying storyline exploring the relationship between the couple. As it is, it just lets you down in all areas.

It is put forward as a unique insight into a couples love making, but comes across as the cold, functional sex of a one night stand. There is not the passion, or the intensity, of a genuine loving relationship.

The film needed to be longer, to give time to develop the characters or some kind of story and give the viewer something to grasp. The sixty six minutes running time leaves you thinking "is that it?" and wanting a refund- both of the money paid for the film and the hour of your life you just wasted. It will remain notorious for its sexual content, and continue to appeal to those who have not seen it. Once seen, it loses any appeal.

This film is most likely to end up being passed around schools by thirteen year old boys and skipped to the sex scenes, or more likely the sex scenes downloaded from a peer to peer network.

I suppose the whole film does have one thing, an element of realism. It is like watching a very expensively filmed home video but as everyone knows other peoples lives may seem interesting at a distance, but close up they are just as boring as your own.In this case, dull is an understatement.

Maybe that is the point..but if this film does have one, it is very cleverly disguised.

I really wanted to like this film. I really wanted it to be the ground breaking, brave, work of artistic genius that the media promised.That this was the film that would open the gates for a more honest era of censorship.It isn't any of those things, the most interesting thing about it is the question of how it was given a certificate..the biggest question is why bother making it in the first place?
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forget the scandal, concentrate on beauty
casasroger26 September 2004
I always try to be as clean from other people's / critics opinion before I go and check out a new film.

With Nine Songs, that is a difficult task, because it is the kind of movie everyone talks about without even seen it.

The story is as simple as it can be. It concentrates on the sexual behavior of the characters to show the birth and death of their relationship. It could have all been told around their meals, or their phone conversations. But Michael

Winterbotom chose their sex life - a quite important subject to every couple's life- to tell it all.

I only want to say that it is quite beautiful. Yes, its only sex, but as real as it can be. There is no intention on making the scenes erotic or pornographic, and the honest intimacy projected, strips down the human nature of the characters to

their very basic instincts.
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9/10
A unique experience
KeeganDeWitt26 July 2005
It seems strange to have such an affection for a film that is so flawed and fails in so many areas. Either way, I really really enjoyed Nine Songs, a relationship drama told strictly through sex. First, we'll list the failures. The acting of our female lead is a bit suspect and makes her, in the end, unlikable. The photography, although intimate and immediate, suffers from it's DV quality and makes you wonder how beautiful this film could have been shot with the eye of perhaps... Lars Von Trier's dogma lense. Most importantly, the movie relies on two ingredients that in the end prove a bit useless. We are reliving the story in memory via the male lead as he travels through Antarctica. Although it is an interesting metaphor and a captivating landscape, it seems almost entirely unnecessary. We hear him say "you can be clostraphobic and agoraphobic all at the same time, much like the bedroom." Secondly, and most important, the live music is inconsequential, although good. The actual image quality is low, the songs play for too long, the lyrics apply to the narrative not at all, and the bands all flirt with one style (Michael Nyman being the exception). I must say, there is an outstanding version of "Jacqueline" by Franz Ferdinand.

Now let me tell you where the film succeeds. We experience two young, naive, selfish personalities infatuated with one another, and the idea of one another. This is expressed in the most immediate and intimate fashion: SEX. We see two people in the prime of a relationship, in which the most sex is had, and as much as possible, however possible, symbolizing favors, trust, forgiveness, revenge, and all the other facets of a relationship. These scenes also succeed because of their length, the total lack of music, and the director's willingness to let them exist without explanation. Although these two characters are not even particularly likable or explained to us, we end up feeling as if we've shared something very deep with them, solely based on the extent to which we are asked to hang with them throughout the long and graphic and no holds barred sex scenes.

It may seem sick, but by the end, as a graphic fellatio scene ends with actual ejaculation, you have become so acclimatized to this topic, and it being our main source of communication, that there is an almost unspoken dialogue between all parties. Instead of feeling offended, we feel love for the privacy of the moment, for the trust and sharing that happens there. Instead of feeling aroused, we feel compelled by the motives, interested in the roles played and mindful of the moment shared.

By asking that you step into a theater, with total strangers, and watch many graphic sexual encounters, many unexplained and without the usual Hollywood ramp-up, you have signed over a certain amount of control and comfort as an audience-member, which in the end, offers a truly unique experience of the "love story". When all is said and done, "Nine Songs" evoked a truly unique and loving response from me, in spite of the fact that as a film, it fails in many areas. I would not say that many films should be made like this, but I would say that it is flirting with a new form of love story that is raw, beautiful and in the end, no matter how many times it fails, honest by the sheer default of it's topic.
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8/10
Beautiful, intimate, responsible. A minor triumph.
Chris_Docker20 March 2005
This is a love-it-or-hate-it film, as reflected by the deep divisions in critical response. It is a serious piece of film-making but there are two major components that you may love or hate - extreme sexual explicitness and modern rock music.

The rock music is mostly from live concerts. If the music that people pogue and stage dive to is not for you, you probably won't want to sit through an hour of it (check the soundtrack listings - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Von Bondies, Salif Keita, Franz Ferdinand, Primal Scream, Dandy Warhols, Goldfrapp, Super Furry Animals, Elbow - do you recognise/like a few of them?) The sexual explicitness is a matter of personal taste - and tastes in sexuality vary a lot. If you can identify or empathise to some extent to this 20-some young couple and feel comfortable seeing how their relationship develops through sex and rock music you may, as I did, find it beautiful and intimate. The lovemaking is so natural that it is in sharp contrast to the fictionalised and very artificial sex scenes in mainstream films. There's also some wonderful symbolism in contrasting shots and details of Antarctica (connected to the daytime work of the main character). It's also a triumph British cinema that the Censors have allowed it to reach mainstream cinemas uncut.
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Excellent, very watchable and lyrically beautiful
slake095 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I thoroughly enjoyed 9 songs, although I did benefit somewhat from reading the synopsis beforehand. If I hadn't read it the movie would have been half over before I figured out what it was about.

And what was it about? A relationship between a British scientist studying Antarctic ice and a crazily lovable American girl. They like to go to concerts. They like to do drugs. And they like to have sex - a lot. The sex is explicit (as real sex tends to be) and as usual whenever any one appears on film as they do in their own bedroom, there are a lot of naysayers who can't get past the nudity to see the beauty of the film.

If you read a bad review of this movie, it was probably written by a blue nosed censor who doesn't get much, if any, sex themselves and hates to see anyone else enjoying it.

The couple in this movie are most assuredly enjoying their sexual relationship; the chemistry between them is great to see and the concert footage in between is a nice punctuation to the movie, with well known contemporary bands doing live music.

The best part about this movie, for me, was the reality of the relationship. Several reviewers apparently have not had enough relationships that they recognize this. Why did the couple get together? Because they were attracted to each other, why else? Why did they split up? Because the American girl was going home and the gravity of the relationship wasn't enough to hold her. These things happen in real life, all the time, so why not depict them on film? Everything doesn't have to have a detailed explanation.

I thought this movie was an excellent depiction of the sort of short term relationship people tend to get into; not leading to a long term commitment, but forming the kind of memories that you look back on fondly years later.
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1/10
60 minute pretentious prelude to penetration
spamjewce3 August 2006
This film stinks of pretension, as do all of the positive reviews I have read about it.

I'll make my points short and sweet.

1. If I have to obtain external info (a synopsis, a forward, a cast and crew interview, or a commentary) to understand the film maker's intentions, the film as a medium has failed.

2. If this is supposed to be a story... it is lost.

3. If this a myopic of human sexuality, I can possibly except that as the reason I just wasted 67 minutes of my time. But sex is not love, and I knew where to put it before I left grade school. I didn't need two college age students to show me.

This film is not about relationships- its nothing more than a human equivalent of the Wild Kingdom- the mating rituals of homo sapiens. Unlike the Wild Kingdom, and just like porn, you actually get to see the film's "climax." I am not a prude by any stretch. But there is no Bohemian facet to this film. It is porn plain and simple. No matter how many college rock songs you use to whitewash it, strange cuts, melancholic piano tracks, or fancy words you try to pimp it with, you have amateur porn on your hands. Porn with small breasticles.
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Gutsy disappointment from an interesting director and two brave actors
AMadLane19 September 2004
Saw this 16-09-2004 at the TIFF... While I am an admitted fan of mainstream films that feature explicit sexuality, I was disappointed in this film -- as it stands now. I say "as it stands now" because, although I may be wrong, the film has the feel of an unfinished work. Clocking in at a mere hour and five minutes, however, it still manages to feel long somehow -- essentially, we are watching either one of four types of scene: The lead actor reminiscing about the now-ended affair (from his walking trip of... Antarctica!), the couple attending concerts (always, apparently, at the same venue), the couple cooking and eating, or the couple having sex. There is relatively little dialog. The film feels fragmentary, as the scenes tend to repeat without much of a contextual base; perhaps these scenes are intended to represent the lead characters' memories, implying that we only remember those things that were most important to us from a relationship. The actors are game in their roles, although Ms. Stilley -- who has the long-limbed, small-chested appearance of a runway model -- comes off a bit weaker next to Mr. O'Brien (indeed, this appears to be her first film). I give both actors a lot of credit for baring themselves so unabashedly to the material, but am a bit disappointed that, even though Ms. Stilley has supposedly been offered another role in Mr. Winterbottom's next film, she is said to be "distancing herself" from this picture, apparently especially after her mother in North Carolina was alerted to its graphic nature.
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1/10
Is this really a spoiler considering there is no plot?
Mac Boswell29 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A sorry nonsensical excuse for a porn flick. Why in the world director Michael Winterbottom has confused himself into believing that by putting footage of live gigs in between explicit sex scenes warrants the film (I say film in loose terms, more like 'footage') as 'mainstream' or 'art-house' and not 'porn' is beyond me. This truly was a waste of a cinema ticket.

The films plot or lack of one, consists of footage of live rock concerts followed by sex scenes followed by more live concert footage and more sex scenes in a vicious circle of tedium. This tiresome, lazy drivel is obvious proof that Michael Winterbottom is incapable of producing a film which shows the relationship between rock n roll and sex without simply forcing poor live footage of some great bands and gratuitous sex scenes in front the viewer over and over again. Boring.

On a plus note for Winterbottom, this film has has NO redeeming features: A dreadful script if there was one, terrible sound quality especially for a film called '9 Songs' and as for the acting; it cannot really be judged considering that the sex scenes were so explicit that there was 'no acting required'. The film looks as though it was shot using a web cam and then edited on a mobile phone, incoherent and flawed in every way imaginable.

In short, if you want to make a honest porn flick make one and I might even buy it, but don't dress up live footage of rock bands with explicit sex scenes and expect us to be blinded into believing it's not a porn flick. This should have never made it to the cinema, it stinks and I'm bored of talking about it.
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Australian government view
EDLIS26 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
At 34 seconds the scene depicts the couple in what could be a simulated sex scene. The lighting is subdued, the audience hears heavy breathing. Matt speaks: "I remember her smell, her taste". At approximately 2 minutes 18 seconds the film depicts a scene of apparent cunnilingus. At 2 minutes 43 seconds Matt squeezes Lisa's breast and nipple. At 2 minutes 57 seconds and 3 minutes 10 seconds scenes of what appears to be simulated sex are shown. At 3 minutes 36 seconds Lisa is astride Matt and they appear to be having sex. At 9 minutes 28 seconds is a scene of apparent cunnilingus. At 9 minutes 44 seconds Matt's head is shown between Lisa's legs. At 9 minutes 58 seconds Matt's tongue is shown in Lisa's pubic area. This appears to be a scene of actual sex. At 10 minutes 16 seconds is a scene of implicit sexual intercourse. At 13 minutes 49 seconds an implicit sex scene is shown. There is some moaning and little other detail. At 14 minutes an implicit sex scene is shown and the couple do not use a condom. At approximately 21 minutes the film depicts Matt's erect penis in the bath water. Lisa begins to manipulate his penis with her feet which she does for approximately one minute. Matt's penis lengthens and becomes more erect during this activity. This is a scene of actual sex. At 26 minutes 44 seconds Matt kisses Lisa's breasts. His hands clasp her head more tightly than necessary. There is some discomfort in watching this action, which is not quite menace. At 27 minutes 30 seconds Lisa reads a sexually-charged passage from a book. At approximately 28 minutes 23 seconds Matt blindfolds Lisa. He ties her hands to the bed posts. At 29 minutes 12 seconds is a visual of Lisa's pubic area shown at a low angle and between her legs as she lies on the bed. There is some genital detail. At 29 minutes 46 seconds Matt's head is shown between Lisa's legs in the area of her genitals. There are further visuals of Lisa's blindfolded face with her mouth open and of her breasts. At 30 minutes 28 seconds Matt's tongue is shown and he apparently licks Lisa's pubic area. At 31 minutes Matt's head is off to one side but still depicted between Lisa's legs. Lisa says, as if still reading, "she grabs his balls and puts his cock in her mouth. Fudg me man. Fudg me, come up here." At 32 minutes 37 seconds Matt has his erect penis in his hand. At 33 minutes Matt is stride Lisa, she is still bound, she tries to alter the position of her hands but is unable to free them. She says "Fudg me". This continuous scene is shown for approximately 5 minutes. In the background during the scene is piano music that is soft and slow. The other sounds heard are the couple's breathing. The scene ends at 34 minutes 30 seconds. At 37 minutes 53 seconds Lisa is shown blind folded (but not bound). Matt holds her head. Lisa says "do it harder". Matt holds her neck and massages it firmly. There is a low-level sense of menace. At 38 minutes 29 seconds Lisa takes Matt's hand and puts it in her vaginal area. At 40 minutes 15 seconds Lisa is shown apparently using a dildo to stimulate herself. At 41 minutes Lisa is shown breathing rapidly, she makes some moaning sounds. At 42 minutes 39 seconds Lisa is shown in bed with a top on and without knickers. She is implicitly using a vibrator. Matt is watching her from a distance. Lisa is shown prone on the bed, moving very little. She apparently reaches climax. Matt walks away. At 47 minutes 58 seconds Lisa ties Matt to the bed, she slaps his face with her open hand and puts her stiletto heel into his chest and puts her weight on her foot. She then puts her booted foot onto Matt's legs. She undresses. At 49 minutes 45 seconds Lisa asks Matt "do my nipples feel sore to you? They are." At 50 minutes a two-minute scene of actual sex commences. Lisa kisses Matt's penis and pulls at his testicles. She holds his penis in her mouth (actual sex), she manipulates his penis with her hand (actual sex), her hand is shown repeatedly manipulating Matt's penis (actual sex). Matt explicitly ejaculates (actual sex). His semen is explicitly shown spurting out of the end of his penis onto his chest and stomach (actual sex). Lisa continues to fondle Matt after he climaxes. The scene is prolonged and contains significant detail. At approximately 60 minutes an actual sex scene of two minutes duration is shown. At 60 minutes Lisa removes her knickers and the couple start to fondle each other. At 60 minutes 28 seconds, explicit vaginal penetration is shown. The camera angle is at the end of the bed as the shaft of Matt's penis explicitly enters Lisa's vagina. Her vagina is visible and some detail is shown including pubic hair, open labia and moist clitoral region. Matt's penis is erect and wet. The camera angle is from the end of the bed toward the couple. Matt is on his knees facing away from the camera and is seen in mid shot. His buttocks and testicles are shown. The shaft of his penis is shown explicitly entering Lisa's vagina and partly withdrawing and moving up and down, re-entering her vagina in a rhythmic manner. The scene is prolonged and detailed and ends at approximately 62 minutes and 21 seconds. The film ends at 69 minutes 23 seconds.

http://www.oflc.gov.au/resource.html?resource=392&filename=392.pdf
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Rock and Roll
tedg10 July 2005
When I saw Scorsese's "Last Waltz," I thought that I would never again see a concert film as true. And I haven't, until now.

The Band were the last popular musicians to tell stories, have nearly all those stories be in the third person and tell them without irony. To do this is impossible today, or at least non- commercial. Scorsese is a flawed filmmaker, his flaw being that he is overly invested in character-driven storytelling. The two: Band and Marty, were a perfect mix: cinematic rock. Pure, without that nightmare stew of MTV videos.

Now along comes Winterbottom. Nearly all viewers will be unable to accept a movie with sex in it as anything but a movie about sex. Shame on them. Confront it folks. That's his point: why is it so difficult to accept the difference?

But the hangups of the viewing public are less interesting to me than the way he constructed this experiment. It is a rock concert (with a Nyman interlude). Nine songs, with us participating in the songs themselves, participating in the going to the concerts to listen to the songs, and participating in the experience that the songs are about: namely obsessive sex. And also, remembering (or even inventing the memory of) the sex, drugs and rock and roll we've seen. This latter is done by our hero in Antarctica. He serves as narrator, by the way.

Thankfully, this intense sex avoids the theatrics of "Damage," and works to be as genuine as possible emotionally.

Is it a good movie? Could it change your life? Will it change cinema forever?

Probably yes.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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Curious movie, lots of praise from some corners, but mostly a simple summer of sex then back to work.
TxMike6 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Some have called "9 Songs" a "love it or hate it" movie. No, there are those of us who neither love it, nor hate it. I had heard it was explicit, and I was curious, so I burned a Netflix rental slot to see it.

First off it is very low-budget and very short. Almost all of the movie takes place either (1) in the couple's apartment or (2) in a rock band venue. I suppose the title refers to 9 different bands, so nine different songs, but I am not certain.

Kieran O'Brien is Matt, a British fellow whose job takes him to Antarctica. We see a few cut-aways, flying over ice or sawing core ice samples. While it is never spelled out, Matt must work there in some type of scientific endeavor.

Margo Stilley was 21, playing Lisa, a 21-year-old American in London for the summer. She hooks up with Matt and most of the story is about their being lovers.

These two really enjoy sex, and the movie rarely shows them doing anything else, except maybe getting excited before sex, or cleaning up after sex. And the sex is explicit, we don't have to imagine what they are doing. Even the scenes where Lisa is satisfying herself with a vibrator are not simulated.

So what is the reason this movie was made? I don't really believe it was made to be a porn movie. It appears to show a role-reversal. Most often when a man and a woman hook up for sex, it is the man who says "Bye, time to go" and then leaves. Here it is Lisa, when the summer comes to an end, it is time for her to go back to America. She had fun, but she doesn't love Matt in the sense that she wants to build a lasting relationship with him.

What I found really interesting, more than the movie itself, was the 12-minute interview with Margo Stilley on the DVD extras. It was interesting to hear how she approached the possibility of doing a movie that required such an explicit performance, and dealing with the possibility of adverse publicity. As the movie was showing I thought she was a Brit faking an American accent, but in fact she is an American.

View at your own risk of disappointment.
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1/10
much ado about nothing
damien-165 November 2004
This was a wasted 65 minutes. Mercifully short, fortunately. No plot, totally unappealing characters, and absolutely no idea why they got together, why they stayed together (the sex didn't seem all that great) nor why they split up. Maybe Micheal Winterbottom is turning into a dirty old man??? I'm sure he can do better than this. I will give him the credit of the doubt, after all he made code49 and Jude the obscure, but simply filming naked bodies (badly) and intersecting them with poorly recorded live music is no excuse for an "art film". If it is true that he wanted to make a serious adult movie about the sexual aspects of a relationship he should watch his classics again, and certainly Ai no corrida.
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1/10
Deeply boring
dehodneth-17 April 2007
This is one of the most boring films I have ever seen. There is no discernible story line. Despite all the very explicit sex there is no build up to it, resulting in a complete lack of any sexual tension - and the dreary repetitiveness of the sex act robs it of any eroticism. There is a limit to how long two people banging away in a room, with nothing else remotely resembling a plot going on, can hold the viewers interest. It doesn't help that the chief protagonists are not very attractive (my very subjective opinion, admittedly) and the whole pointless charade is punctuated periodically by loud bursts of awful music (although some might consider these intervals the best bits of the film).
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10/10
More true portrayals of life should be celebrated
petcrows12 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Any movie which tries to show sex the way it is deserves a 10 in my book. I live in a part of the US (Utah) where many sexually repressed (& therefore abused & damaged & deranged) people live - where many people live who hate their own bodies & the sexual parts of their natures. I grew up in the culture here which fears & loathes sex & true honest naked human bodies. When I was growing up I hated & resented the sexual feelings I started to have. Now as a mature adult who's rejected the abusive repressive culture of his youth, I am very pleased and honored that Salt Lake City is as of today (12 August 05) one of the places which is showing this film in the US. I commend the film makers for trying to portray sex the way it is - in a way far better than the fakey nonsense of Hollywood, and in a better way than the fakey nonsense of the crass forms of "porn." I know that porn was a term created by people who didn't like the wall paintings at Pompeii, and I think that non-fakey non-coercive "porn" is highly useful, but fakey porn which has moans and other accouterments which are fake isn't useful. I think we need more portrayals of true human sexuality. It's not all that flashy. It's not fake & restful either. It's just plain old wonderful sex. In "9 Songs" one type of sex is shown - the type where the female prefers that the male leave his condom on long term. But the couple is young, and 20 something young adults rightly play the field, and that's good. Anyway, one local repressed-culture-advocating newspaper in Salt Lake referred to this film as a type of "porn." I would say that it's not, any more than getting up in the morning and taking a shower, or seeing yourself naked in the mirror, or even your masturbating or having sex is "porn." A far better term is life! Sex is part of life. To the repressed repressing people I say: Get used to it! Learn to love it!
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8/10
Makes adult behavior safe for grown-ups again
powelton31 July 2005
Michael Winterbottom has redeemed sex for grown-ups in the movies. He has discarded the theatrics and acrobatics of porn and, at the other end of the scale, the overbearing artistic aspirations of, for example, the sex scene in "Don't Look Now" (which, on a good day, I do not necessarily think was too beautiful for its own good). Winterbottom's approach looks more like what real people do when cameras are not present. There's a lot to be said for that in a world where most directors would be inclined to overdirect. And the interplay between the song sequences and the sequences when the couple is alone is right. Just as the live music performances trade the polish of studio recordings for the vitality and rough edges of life, so do the sex scenes offer the power of reality--and its imperfections--in the place of meticulous attention to lighting and makeup. Winterbottom has edited rather than choreographed and, despite his success in carrying it off, I doubt that many directors would be willing to take the risk of using that technique.
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9/10
Excellent and beautiful.
m-gsl17 May 2005
Do you occasionally expose yourself to contemporary art? Such an experience touches me at a deeper level if I put aside questions like "What's the artists intention?" or "What was the cultural or political motivation for his/her work?" Approaching contemporary art from a more intuitive point of view, paying less attention to the analytical side of my brain and more to how a piece of art makes me feel is usually a rewarding strategy.

With "Nine Songs", I follow a similar approach. I don't care where and why the two main characters met, and why their relationship didn't last, neither do I want to know about all the aspects of their personalities the movie doesn't reveal to us. The film shows us very real, snapshot-like scenes of a relationship.

Contrary to other reviewers I believe the character development was excellent. It was not Winterbottom's intention to create an analytical piece of work that illustrates in detail every part of its characters' psyches. What we get to see is the dynamics between two young, sexually very much attracted people, and as such, the play is dense and convincing. It is my opinion that especially Margo Stilley achieves a very authentic performance in her portray of a girl whose emotional state sways between crazy excitement, lightheartedness, sadness, and destructiveness. Confirmation for this unstable aspect of her personality I see in the fact that she is supposed to "take one little pill a day".

I would like to respond to philconcannon's statement. Quote: >> "The two actors are unconvincing and the heavily-improvised dialogue is utterly dismal (sample conversation: "Those glasses look stupid" "I'm trying to look stupid", "They look ugly" "I'm trying to look ugly"). << Well, I don't know about philconcannon's experiences with relationships, but I consider it likely that a couple in their early twenties doesn't constantly reflect the seriousness of life in their verbal communication. It's the kind of mundane exchange probably most of us have repeatedly experienced, for example (as it is the case in the movie) during a long and boring drive. A similar dialog takes place later in the movie, when Margo Stilley again provokes Kieran O'Brien by telling him that he looks stupid. Maybe the women is going through a PMS cycle, maybe she is sad and tries to escape her inner self by getting into an argument with her boyfriend. Whatever reasons there might be for this exchange, I believe that it quite well reflects the reality of their relationship and their characters, and therefore the dialog adds to the authenticity of the movie.

In regard to the explicit sexuality shown in this movie: When was, for the first time in movie history, French kissing shown on screen? I'm sure that caused a minor uproar at the time, considering that people were used to seeing very sterile, unreal "lips firmly pressed on lips" kisses. Sexuality is a big part of our lives and I give Winterbottom a lot of credit for the fact that he portrayed it as what it is. He didn't try to design the actual encounters as shocking or unusual as possible. Frankly, I think many of the scenes were in spite of their explicit depiction wonderful to watch and even romantic. A definite advancement compared to the high gloss, fake sexuality we are presented with in Hollywood blockbusters like "Basic Instinct".

One last thought in response to cedric owl's comment, who quotes Winterbottom saying: "I wanted to make a film with ****ing in it." Well, here is a more accurate description of what Winterbottom really said: „I asked myself, why is it not possible to show sex in cinema? What is wrong with it? Not only do people want to have sex in their own lives – it is also an openly presented subject in art. No question it is not a taboo. There is a very free depiction of sexuality in contemporary literature, the newspapers are full of it, and so is TV. … So, why not (in cinema)? … Many people considered it a bad idea right from the beginning. With explicit sex, it has to result in a porn movie. I asked myself: Actually, why? How can we avoid turning it into pornography? And the other way round: How is it possible at all to tell a true love story if something as essential as sex is kept out? So we started by trying to find a frame, to develop a story that is interesting, but at the same time as simple as possible."
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6/10
It's only about sex
Quentin13 March 2005
Well indeed, this movie is only about sex. It's only about flesh, smells, sexual intercourses, sometimes kinky, it's all about life in the end. Is it a porn movie? I would not go that far. It cannot be a porn movie as it is not intended to be one. Nonetheless, it shows enough to be one. The music is very good throughout the whole film, which is actually a succession of sexual scenes and gigs (some the best Brit pop around now), but not good enough, though, to make the film a masterpiece. In a word, it's a good movie about what a relationship can be (in its sexual dimension and beyond)- or even should be ? It's all about life, and that's what cinema is all about.
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A must.....
odonnell_elaine14 February 2005
i disagree with the negative comments on nine songs.....spotted a review on the film back in October and put it in my brain diary as one to watch!....it popped up at the Jameson film festival and so an opportunity arose to see what all the fuss was about.......thoroughly enjoyed all 65 minutes!......thought the film was beautiful at times,sad at others but basically real....was blown away by the piano pieces....yeah the film did begin and end with zero character development but so what, that wasn't the aim of the film...it just lets u wonder ...(and want to go to the antarctic!!).......an artistic film well worth a watch in my opinion....enjoy!
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10/10
Being a fly on the wall while two people explore the youthful extremes of love
karenrothman20 February 2006
I didn't know a thing about 9 songs when I rented it. It was so brilliantly acted, I thought the only way this could have been done was if the two leads were lovers and they directed the film. But no, this is real ....sex that is....the actors portray first love in the most truthful light I've ever seen. The fact that there was no script adds to the realism of the film. Both actors give their hearts and souls to this film. Director Michael Winterbottom's idea is genius. In an industry where everything is becoming increasingly "false" Winterbottom brings the epitome of realism back to the camera. Anyone who has a problem with this film is probably just upset that they never felt the way these two people felt. My only question is, is this considered pornography? I haven't looked up the definition lately, and frankly I don't care if it were but the film definitely pushed the envelope in a society that is increasingly right wing.
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10/10
Great performances (onstage and off)
James Peachtriggle30 September 2005
Starting off with British guy Matt in Antartica, surveying the land, the movie is a flashback to his fling with an American girl named Lisa (Margo Stilley, who looks like a taller, learner Maggie Gyllenhaal). The two go to a great concert, have sex, go to a great concert, have sex, rinse, repeat 7 more times. Amazingly, even though you're only seeing the sex, you're seeing the reality of a relationship and able to see the emotions and feelings of both people from beginning to end. It's an interesting note to all those movies out there who try to show everything BUT the sex...maybe you're missing the real point.

Of course what really makes the movie a must-watch is the performances. One of a kind concert footage from some of my personal favorite bands, Franz Ferdinand, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Von Bondies, Super Fury Animals and Primal Scream. If you're a fan of these bands, its like getting a bonus DVD of footage.

Be warned, the sex is real. No faking, no CGI. But it doesn't really feel like porn, least not to me. Winterbottom shots it the film on digital video, probably the best way to capture all the concerts. The film's a solid 65 minutes, just the perfect amount of time to course the relationship of two people in lust.
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7/10
interesting portrayal on relationship
nobbytatoes29 July 2005
Matt is in Antarctic on account of his job. While he is there he remember the relationship he left. The rest of the movie is made up of flash backs on his relationship with Lisa. All the flash backs contain when Matt and Lisa are at the concerts they attend; 9 concerts in all, and when they are having sex.

What is annoying and so interesting about 9 songs is that there is no story line. As the movie is a splice of flash backs, though they run chronologically, they don't make a story line; so the movie doesn't really go anywhere and you don't learn anything about them. But this is whats so interesting about it. If you keep in mind that it is a retrospective, Matt is remembering the best times of the relationship; and that is when he is having sex with Lisa and when they attend the concerts.

9 songs has been called one of the most sexually explicit movie of our age. This can be rightly so as this does have real sex scenes. But though it does have real sex scenes, this isn't in the fashion of a pornographic movie. A lot of the time in the sex scenes, most of the time we only see extreme close ups of the faces or other part of their body. With this style of filming, the sex scenes aren't that confronting; but there is a lot of nudity. The movie was shot on high definition hand held cameras, so the quality is fuzzy and shaky, so you don't get a complete feel of the surroundings.

The bands at the concerts have The Dandy Warhols, Elbow, Franz Ferdinand, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Von Bondies, Primal Scream, Super Furry Animals.

9 songs runs much in the vein of 'In the realm of the senses', a Japanese movie which also had a couple which we only see having sex the entire movie. Though 9 songs can be confronting at times, it lacks a lot of substance; from the lack of no story line. But this is one of the most interesting portrayal of a couples relationship. There are a lot of metaphors in here as well. The best is when Matt says that being in bed with someone can be so claustrophobic and agoraphobic at the same time.

Though i would say you should see this movie, but for a better movie that uses sex as a main point on a couples relationship, the movie Intimacy is much better.
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