9 Songs

Release Date: July 22, 2005
Limited release

Movie of the Day for Tuesday, July 5, 2005
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A movie that has caused a great deal of controversy on multiple levels, 9 Songs is the latest example of director Michael Winterbottom's eclectic, creative nature. In the past, Winterbottom has been the driving force behind such varied films as 24 Hour Party People, Jude and With or Without You. Now, he examines the evolution of a relationship purely by focusing on the physical aspects of what took place between the man and woman in question.

9 Songs stars Kieran O'Brien and Margo Stilley, a 21-year-old who The Guardian at one time reported had requested her name not be used in connection with any stories about the film. When the pair was initially cast, Winterbottom worked with them to make sure they were aware of what would be involved in the process of creating the movie, giving them the opportunity to back out if the explicit sex scenes made them uncomfortable. Neither actor left the project, and in fact both of them were heavily involved in the formation of the screenplay, as much of what takes place was improvised and imagined shortly before filming the scenes.

The story is framed in a couple of different manners. First off, the O'Brien character is telling the story as he flies around Antarctica, creating a wintry and claustrophobic metaphor for the events to follow. Additionally, scenes of performances from bands such as Franz Ferdinand, the Dandy Warhols and Super Furry Animals are interspersed throughout the story. The portions in between feature the stars in various stages of their physical relationship - from glorious infatuation to dreaded ennui.

There are several scenes in the film that have given people who have had the opportunity to view the picture pause. It was screened at Cannes in 2004, at which point a fairly significant uproar occurred. Not only are there very overt images of fellatio and ejaculation, but there is also a segment of the film that involves full penetration sex. Winterbottom and the film's stars are quick to point out that the film is not porn, however, and some reviewers who have dealt with this touchy subject matter have noted that it definitely feels more like an emphasis on a love story than something more prurient.

Along with the controversy about the sex scenes, the movie also has become a source of contention due to a lawsuit from Tartan Films, who was originally set as the distributor of the film. The source of the rift between Tartan and Winterbottom is unclear - one source says that Tartan head Hamish McAlpine objected to Winterbottom's willingness to make cuts to the movie in order to receive certification to show it in theaters - but the situation is ongoing and unresolved at this point. At this point, Tartan does have it scheduled for U.S. release, at which point it is sure to cause an uproar in the current political climate. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

Vital statistics for 9 Songs
Main Cast Kieran O'Brien, Margot Stilley
Supporting Cast Bobby Gillespie, Bob Hardy, Alex Kapranos, Nick McCarthy, Michael Nyman, Courtney Taylor-Taylor, Robert Young, The Dandy Warhols, Franz Ferdinand
Director Michael Winterbottom
Screenwriter Michael Winterbottom
Distributor Tartan Films
Trailer http://www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2675234
Official Site http://films.tartanfilmsusa.com/9songs
Rating Unrated
Running Time 69 minutes
Screen Count 1
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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