[EDITOR'S NOTE: Miguel Cohen, who may or may not be the brother of Randy "The Ethicist" Cohen (he has yet to submit to a blood test), once appeared on these pages with a series of columns known as "The Un-Ethicist." He returned months later and made two efforts to summarize James Joyce's Ulysses. It's been a year since we last heard from Miguel. Until last week, when Miguel confessed to me that after a night out that he can barely remember, he had accidentally signed up for the Peace Corps and had spent several months in Uganda trying to get out of his professional obligations and return to the United States. When we spoke on the phone, Miguel told me that consciously thinking about Joyce had pretty much decimated his ability to read any books, let alone make a measured life choice. I suggested that he take up movie reviewing, since I had purportedly given up on current films. When Miguel learned that an NC-17 film had been released featuring real actors performing real sex, Miguel jumped at the chance to weigh in. What follows is his review.]
9 Songs. That’s what they named this sucker. It should have been called 9 Mercy Fucks. Because the way these two went at it, you could see the glazed over expressions in their eyes. Was this an effort at Last Tango style lust? Perhaps. But if this was real sex, then these were real expressions. Either the two actors were tired of the director asking them to do take after take of cocksucking or this was the most fucking they were likely to have for the next two years. Frankly, it made this cat a bit uncomfortable. I was longing for one of those humble little romps where the chick is heinously objectified and the couple in question fucks in three separate positions over three minutes to a throway opus of synthesized music.
The guy who made this is Michael Winterbottom. I’m no professional psychiatrist, but certainly anyone with the name Winterbottom is bound to be ribbed a little over the years.
Bad enough that he’s British. But the real question on my mind was whether this guy was an ass man or not. I’m neither an ass man nor a breast man. I’m more of a vulva man. In this way, you might say I’m straightforward. Most of my friends are breast men. They’re so bad that when I hand them an orange, they start fondling it and looking for the nipple. When they find the stem, they’re generally disappointed.
But ass men. These guys are usually in confidence crises. What does it say about a person when the chief anatomical feature they worship is the housing for the execretory tract?
Anyway, he’s got the length right. 71 minutes is about the running time you’d expect from a porn film. He’s even thrown in a bedpost and a few scarves. But who the hell hooks up at a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club concert? Definitely not interesting people. Let’s face the facts. Those boys in the BRMC are utter pussies. They offer just enough edge to be “independent,” but their noise is carefully stifled so as not to scare off the thirtysomethings holding onto whatever vaguely “edgy” music they can process to remain hip. You want edge? Have these two getting turned on at a Pretty Girls Make Graves show.
So Mr. Geologist and Ms. Student go back to Geology Boy’s flat and fuck each others’ brains out. And then they go to another show and fuck afterwards. And then seven more times.
If you ask me, this was just an excuse for Winterbottom to shoot naked people. Perhaps he would have been more successful unleashing these “nine songs” one by one onto the Internet for the highbrow porn connoisseurs. I’m guessing that this movie was made not so much to push any envelopes, but for Winterbottom, whose films have never made much dinero, to cater to the niche market of frightened intellectual bastards scared of crossing the video store’s beaded threshold. Rent porn, you horny motherfuckers, or the terrorists have won!
In the end, Winterbottom didn’t strike me as an ass man. In fact, what disheartened me the most was that he had no particularly foci with the fucking. If he’s going to make films like that, he needs to understand that every director has their anatomical obsession — their personal stamp. You don’t see a Russ Meyer film for anything less than the breasts. Likewise, Kubrick is obsessed with long shots of nude women, often standing. And Guy Ritchie is a bit of an ass man and his camera seems to swing both ways.
But Winterbottom? Nothing. He’s fashioned a veritable potpourri (if that’s what you movie poster authors want to quote, go for it). But Miguel says this guy’s a poseur.