Another weekend like those we have been lately getting a lot of: nothing to do, nobody to see (and Jod having work to do at home). The highlights included cooking Thai red curry and watching DVDs: the Best of Road Runner (not Blade Runner), National Treasure, La Mala Educación, 9 Songs.
La Mala Educación I did not really want to watch. This is because I do not like Almodóvar, although some of his films I have found watchable. Guess what, La Mala Educación turned out to be a great film, subtle, superbly paced, playful (there are three main narrative levels embedded within each other), intriguing and tragic (Almodóvar can usually go only as far as melodrama, so…).
Then we saw 9 Songs last night. I had been meaning to see this film for some time because I was intrigued by its allegedly combining sex and rock gigs (there is actually a third element besides these two: Antarctica). I also liked Winterbottom’s Wonderland, so I was definitely curious.
The film is a gem: simple and subtle, achingly atmospheric (it sent me into yet another spin of nostalgia for our lost English life), building characters not through dialogue, but through their having sex. Minimalism seems to be the guiding principle, but in a lyrical, personal and intimate way, without detachment or voyeurism. Although the story is narrated from the guy’s point of view, the film’s editing, choice of angles, lighting, even the actors cast in it (see picture above) make it a very unlike piece of pornography. 9 Songs belongs to a sparsely populated subgenre of films about relationships that use sex in a frank but essential way — not as a distraction, a filler or a means to just titillate — in the good company of the raw Baise-moi and the superb Intimacy, and unlike bathetic stuff like Romance, which is really born-again French porn (you know, porn with loads of spoken treatises on the duality / duplicity of love and the meaning of life and men being from Mars, blah blah…).
Of course, this is my point of view. Jod found 9 Songs — well, here is the dialogue:
Lox: What did you think of it?
Jod: Porn. The live songs are good, though.
Lox.: Porn??? How can you say that? The actors are, like, human. You can identify with them. Nothing like the inhuman circus freaks of porn.
Jod: Antarctica was cool. I’ll get the soundtrack.
Lox.: What about the plot? The [see my arguments above]
Jod: Well, it is not mainstream porn. It is a British take on French porn: profound porn. Winterbottom knows how to use sex. He’s done it before. He just overdid what he knows best.
Lox: Well, I for myself like the idea of using the bare essentials to describe a relationship; sex is the bare essential.
Jod: Sure, but why did we have to see a close of her dilated labia [she thankfully expressed herself in an academic way — Blogger censors are on patrol] or his belly soaked with cum? [uhm]
Lox.: Well, come on, these are elements of sex.
Jod: And why do we have to be shown them?
Lox.: Oh, it’s not like Winterbottom wants to turn you on!
Jod: Well, I was turned on. Weren’t you?