(Michael Winterbottom / 2004)
I’m not sure why I continue to watch Winterbottom’s films. Like Oliver Stone or Danny Boyle I keep coming back, hoping that each new film will be the skeleton key to their aesthetic, but alas, I’m consistently disappointed. 9 Songs is overburdened with stylistic flourishes that amount to nothing. A certain type of intimacy emerges that borders on the indecent—as if Winterbottom is attempting to display the limits of photographing human experience. We are aware that the sex is un-simulated, we can assume the expressions of pleasure are genuine, but we can never feel what we are seeing, no matter how close we are to the action—this is the character's memory, not ours. This fractured mood is doubled by the rock venue sequences which play out as generic concert footage (the kind that is acceptable if you dig the music, but if you don’t it’s totally worthless). Like many films that revolve around un-simulated sex, the filmmakers don’t seem to know what to do when the actors aren’t fucking, making the sex a mere gimmick. Perhaps if Winterbottom was a more daring formalist this might work, but it comes off as gonzo porn sutured to direct to DVD concert footage of some band you may not give a shit about. There is nothing to distinguish between Winterbottom's images that evoke media over-saturation and actual media over-saturation.