9 Songs


I was too embarrassed to buy a cinema ticket for ‘9 Songs’, so I stayed at home and let my parents go to see it by themselves. Alone in the house, perched on a chaise-longue, I began to imagine how I would review such a film…

At school Michael Winterbottom was teased mercilessly by children who, in reference to his surname, constantly asked him if his lower bodily stratum was chilly and if it required a hot water bottle. The unfeeling hostility of his peers drove young Winterbottom (or Cold-Arse, as he was then known) to spend most of his time pursuing his hobbies. These included listening to unremarkable guitar bands and filming people in flagrante delicto. ‘9 Songs’ is a tribute to those youthful interests. It is the beautiful product of an ugly time.

The paramours of 9 Songs possess a broad repertoire of techniques. In one particularly impressive sequence, the stud (to use the parlance of erotica) hangs, pendent, in a static parabola over his partner and hoots encouragingly. His female friend assumes an attitude of appreciation, only to withdraw, as a badger does into the hedges, and reformulate her pose. The stud affects an expression of mock-surprise and falls prone, which, in the semiotics of courtship, signifies the desire to be vigorously bested. The female descends and has her pleasure upon him.

In between these enchanting set-pieces we are subjected to an excruciating parade of indie-pop ephemera. First on the bill is Bobby Gillespie who humps and bonks the beat like a wizened peacock. I wouldn’t like to be that beat. Following that debacle, like a child queuing up for a cowpox inoculation from his school nurse, comes the overbearing and flatulently avuncular Oasis. The audience applauds politely and embarrassedly.

We are then segued back into the intimate boudoir of the lovers. The sweaty bout has achieved its consummation and now the stud lasciviously tucks into a bowl of mashed potatoes, while the female languidly reflects on the preceding activity. The well-earned meal restores the stud’s fire, and, with the inevitability of the seasons, he seizes the intrigued female and conveys his passion with sincere looks of heartfelt desire.

Once again we are dragged from the bower of Eros into another semi-derelict music venue to listen to the next turn of the evening. This time it is the Libertines, who squeak their songs of sad flowers and moon-faced poets into well-chewed microphones. The crowd screams ecstatically, inexplicably. Throughout their set I found myself longing for some kind of variation. A sonorous aria or perhaps even a man arguing with a broomstick would have been more welcome than these ‘leather-clad tweetniks’, as they have repeatedly described themselves.

I would have enjoyed this film more had the non-musical sequences been given more room to develop. In many ways, the music diluted and distracted from what would have been a very interesting film. If, on the DVD, there were a feature enabling one to watch the non-musical sequences continuously without these unnecessary interruptions, ‘9 Songs’ would make for a much more compelling viewing experience. But there is no arguing about taste.


2 Responses to “9 Songs”

  1. oldrope Says:

    I recently discovered an old musty book in my local library. As I flicked through it’s thick stiff pages, choking on the odd billow of dust, something struck me. The depraved nature of the text, the crude phrasing, it was all familiar.
    Then, like a claxon-esque fart shuddering through the reference section, it hit me. I had seen these words before, in exactly the same order, in the obdurate and ceaseless posting of the Agoraphobic Reviewer. Are your readers aware of the rip-offery you subject them to?

  2. johnlebaptiste Says:

    I wondered how long it would take someone to read the collected works of Barry Norman and put the pieces together.

    It’s a fair cop, guv.

    Incidentally, I note that many passages from Gary Glitter’ s diary have been reproduced verbatim on http://www.oldrope.wordpress.com.

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