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9 Songs

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Here is the latest on Winterbottom's release for this year. I wonder if this one will be as well recieved on this board as his last one.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

That link is dead. Try this one instead.

Edited by opus

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I read this somewhere else, i think it was in Film Comment or one of those magazines. It is the single most utterly disappointing development in film this year.

-s.

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We talked about this film a bit here. Was Code 46 ever made, then?

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It's been scheduled for a September release in the UK. There's a good review of it here.

-s.

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From what I've read about it, it sounds like it goes way over the line of what I consider appropriate filmmaking technique. I tend to agree with Soderbergh, that once the actors are naked you've turned your movie into a documentary. SOMETIMES nudity and explicity sexual scenes can be employed to the enrichment of the whole film, but I've seen only rare examples of wisdom in this area. If the film requires the actors to engage in actual sex, and shows this to the extent that some articles claim it does, I personally cannot in good conscience attend the film, as I believe that the sex act is a sacred thing and should not be engaged in by actors. Simulating it for the sake of the story is another thing altogether, so long as the simulation does not become the focus, and so long as the filmmaker does not present it in an indulgent or distractingly provocative way. For the same reason, I avoided that film with Mark Rylance a couple of years ago... can't remember the title.

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Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: I tend to agree with Soderbergh, that once the actors are naked you've turned

: your movie into a documentary.

Which may be the point. We ARE talking, after all, about the director of In This World. Blurring the line between fiction and documentary is part of his thing right now.

: For the same reason, I avoided that film with Mark Rylance a couple of years

: ago... can't remember the title.

Intimacy. That movie had fellatio, but not ejaculation, which I guess is why the reviews call Winterbottom's film the MOST EXPLICIT mainstream British film ever.

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JO, that was Intimacy. It is odd that the two films that have gotten the most press in the past few years about being flat-out explicit are both UK productions. (Maybe with the exception of a few films by Breillat or Noe.) Intimacy really isn't a very good film, it runs very limply through dialogue sections that try to score some sort of merit for the protracted and perfunctory sex scenes. The highlight of the film is Timothy Spall's role, but the backstory that surrounds the rather straightforward "love scenes" is little more than half of a watered down Leigh sketch with a little sexual provocation tossed in. It becomes obvious to the viewer that Chereau was seriously interested in evoking an odd sense of intimacy that can occur through the physical act of love, but got mired in the fact that this odd sense of intimacy only really happens in life through the privacy that begets the experience itself. When we as viewers stand in as voyeurs of this relationship through the film, we ironically strip all sense of intimacy from the relationship Chereau is trying to show us intimacy through.

The same could be said for Breillat's Romance, which introduced her bland in-your-face approach to international audiences. In that film she mistakes honest and explicit imagery for a peep-show dirtiness that does little else than alienate any viewer that has a shred of personal dignity. This is in a major distinction from the early work of Chantal Akerman (the godmother of Breillat's thoroughly French attention to sexual detail), most notably Ju, tu, il, elle. There is an extended scene in this film that is rather frank and explicit, but runs on for long enough to be considered in the realm of experimental film. I don't want to come across as making an apology for this subject matter, but Akerman's sensitive treatment of such private moments that arise out of someone willing to bare themselves to another can lead the viewer to a much different reaction. The difference between Breillat and Akerman seems to be that Breillat (and people like Chereau) desensitize us to sexual acts by forcing the audience to alienate themselves from the scene so that they don't feel like we are sitting in a XXX theater or something (because we aren't, we are really having an enlightened cultural experience... yeah, that's the ticket). Akerman brings to such sequences a length and initial distance that force us to become sensitive to the strange privacy of the act itself through the process of sitting through her imagery. The same thing happens in Stan Brakhage's very famous short film about his wife giving birth.

It seems that Winterbottom's film is going to suffer from the ironies of Intimacy and the thing that makes Breillat's use of explicit imagery back-fire on her. It may sound odd that I have just posted so much about explicit sexual imagery in film, as if this is one of my "favorite subjects" or something. Some of these issues are just really key to French cinema (note that even though Intimacy was a UK production it had a French director), and tumble down into the American scene every now and then to varying degrees. This really came to the fore last year in Friday Night which I read as a sort of meta-commentary on sexuality and romance in the experience of French film. I don't think anyone else did, but it fit really well.

"SOMETIMES nudity and explicity sexual scenes can be employed to the enrichment of the whole film, but I've seen only rare examples of wisdom in this area."

My wife and I still talk every now and then about the scene in In America. That is probably the best depiction of marital intimacy in film we could think of.

Edited by (M)Leary

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My wife and I still talk every now and then about the scene in In America. That is probably the best depiction of marital intimacy in film we could think of.

I've always liked the flirtation between Neeson and Lange at the beginning of Rob Roy. Not explicit, but sexy? Oh yeah.

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Great post, (m). For the record:

Friday Night

Yeah. We went around and around on this one, didn't we? wink.gif

My wife and I still talk every now and then about the scene in In America. That is probably the best depiction of marital intimacy in film we could think of.

BANG. You just nailed it.

-s.

Edited by stef

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(M)Leary, you have a wonderful way with words and ideas.

stef, you have a wonderful way with double entendres.

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I have the feeling many of us are trying very hard not to snicker at that. As they say in the UK: Well played.

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Winterbottom's film will be playing at this year's Toronto Film Festival, as well as Breillat's latest, Anatomi De L'Enfer (which "explores the regions of women's bodies and sexuality that Western mythology has characterized as monstrous, excessive, unsightly, and repulsive").

Edited by opus

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Discovering sex on the screen

This year, the press office at the Toronto International Film Festival handed out a leaflet dividing the 300-plus festival offerings by interest. The heading "Sex" listed 23 films (FYI: films about animals: 14. Martial arts: five). . . . London-based director Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs tells the retrospective story of a love affair in graphic detail, intercutting explicit sex scenes with pop concerts. . . . Breillat, an attractive 50-ish woman who glows prettily in the sunlight of a downtown hotel courtyard, sees Anatomy of Hell as a continuation of a 30-year investigation into female sexuality. Her films, she claims, are not designed to scandalize, but to enlighten. . . . The lead actress in Anatomy of Hell, Amira Casar, requested the use of a body double for the lingering genital shots, but in 9 Songs -- widely praised and described by one viewer as that rare festival animal, a film about sex between "people who actually like each other!" -- the intercourse is not simulated. . . . But there is one person who isn't so laissez-faire about sex in cinema. "I find my own film hard to watch," says Breillat with a laugh. "I'm just as puritanical as my audience. The difference is that I ask myself why I'm so puritanical, since I suffer from being so. That's the difference."

National Post, September 16

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Link to JRobert's review of 9 Songs in Day Five of the Toronto Film Festival. He is a much more mature viewer than i am, or so it seems. Then again, i have tickets to Fat Girl on the big screen next week so perhaps i am a sellout to the erotic arts after all.

-s.

Edited by stef

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Wow. So, how do the folks at Cornerstone feel about hosting a four-star review of a film with lots of explicit sex scenes? Not challenging the validity of such a review, here, just wondering how it clicks with the mandate of the site on which it appears.

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Wow.

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SDG wrote:

: I challenge the validity of such a review.

Hmmm. I would say the validity of the film and the validity of the review are two different things, and while I think hardcore films are pretty much non-valid no matter HOW mainstream they might become, I don't necessarily think it is wrong to watch and review such films, or even to approve of the artistic merits of such a film.

I do find it striking that one viewer described the film as "that rare festival animal, a film about sex between 'people who actually like each other,'" as per that National Post article. Most hardcore art films (Oshima's In the Realm of the Senses, Breillat's Romance, Chereau's Intimacy, etc.) tend to revolve around highly dysfunctional characters, as though the cast and crew involved felt the only way they could justify doing anything so potentially voyeuristic and titillating was to pretend that there was something very grim and non-pleasurable about the whole thing. If the two characters in Winterbottom's film actually DO like each other, that could very well change the dynamic a fair bit. It would be interesting to see what sort of "chemistry" the actors have, to see if there is a believable relationship, even to see if space is given for a spiritual connection between the two characters -- and it would be interesting to see if the graphicness of the sexuality ruins all that, or if, instead, the film ends up being a rebuke to those pornographic films that are all about the mechanics of the sex but never take time to develop the relationship in any believable way.

All of which is aside from the moral issue, I think. So I can see how a four-star review might come out of all that, if one approached the film from that angle.

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Wow.

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Hmmm.

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I am pressed for time but wanted to post.

I would like to see and read more regarding this discussion but in a way that is expressing our perspectives and convictions without pointing a finger as to who may be right or wrong, or more mature, or more subject to sin, or etc. This shouldn

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For what it's worth:

I believe that everyone involved in the act of making, viewing, and discussing a film bears some measure of ethical responsibility. After all, the more people there are willing to watch stuff, the more of it will be made. When on-camera activity departs from the realm of "simulation," "illusion," "pretending," and asking us to "suspend disbelief," then it departs from the realm of art and enters the realm of literal communication. And when inappropriate acts are actually committed rather than simulated, we bear the ethical responsibility of responding rather than sitting by idly and merely observing.

Like killing, sex is an act of actual literal consequences. An actual, literal union is created. No matter how much the actors might say they're acting, they cannot deny that a union has been made, an intimacy achieved, that is far beyond the bounds of a kiss.

I believe that sex is a sacred act, created by God for the purpose of the private union of a man and a woman in an act of love, an expression and a symbol of commitment and union that reflects God's own complete sacrifice of himself to us. I do not have a problem with this part of human experience being "simulated" to contribute to a work of art, as I believe art has the power to communicate transcendant things to us about all areas of life. However, a real sex act on film represents A) unethical action on the part of the actors, for desecrating a sacred act; cool.gif unethical action on the part of the artist, for making public what should be kept private; C) unethical action on the part of anyone knowingly distributing or contributing to such a work. Further, if someone goes ahead and views such a work knowing that they will be party to this, I feel they desecrate this union as well, by observing what is not meant to be observed by others, what was created for privacy.

Just as I do not approve of artists *killing* human beings on camera, I do not approve of artists degrading the gift of sex on camera, or involving anyone in that act.

I've heard people say equating those two things is a gross misjudgment. And clearly, they are two very different things. But just as I believe killing, physical abuse, and self-mutilation are crimes against God's creation and thus against God, I believe removing sex from the purpose for which it was created is a crime, and to remove myself from my ethical objection in order to make some aesthetic judgment of it is like divorcing myself from an act of killing or abuse onscreen and saying, "But wow, the way he made that guys blood splatter was really artful, and I encourage others to check this out."

Simulated sex between characters is one thing. Any actual engagement in sex onscreen requires actors to do something that is not, at its core, acting; it creates an exchange of permanent consequences between actors, forces them into an undeniable and irreversible intimacy that has everything to do with their real person and nothing to do with character.

I would also add that personally, having been so deeply wounded by another's sexual infidelity (and I'm NOT talking about Anne), and having been so deeply grieved to see what the abuse of sex has done in the relationships of others, I am too grieved to see sex actually abused onscreen. And it saddens me to know that others seem perfectly okay watching such inappropriate behavior; it seems to me that they are ignorant of the consequences that take place on a physical, mental, and spiritual level, even if the consequences are merely a further numbing of one's conscience to the gravity of what one has committed.

I remember a kid who tried to rent "Faces of Death" from me at the store one time defensively sneering, "Well, it doesn't do me any harm." I also remember the indifferent of the family man who rented pornos when his wife was out of town, and the expression on his face when, a few weeks later, he stood at the counter with his wife and she innocently asked to see a family rental record so she could make sense of their late-fee situation. Denial leading to consequences.

It is, when it comes down to it, the same reason I can't watch a good deal of "candid camera"-style entertainment like "Jackass" ... because we are entertained at the expense of real human beings on camera.

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Just as I do not approve of artists *killing* human beings on camera, I do not approve of artists degrading the gift of sex on camera, or involving anyone in that act.

I agree with you Jeffery. As far as violence goes, I think I remember readeing that "Welcome To Sarajevo" included live footage of bombings and victims . . . is that true ? ?

In that case, I think, Actual Death only made the point of the film more urgent.

However, I cannot think of an instance where actual coitus on screen would make the drama or philosophical point of any film more poignant or incisive.

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I haven't much time at the moment... but I second Jeffrey's comments, and add a few quick, preliminary thoughts.

I believe that Jeffrey is right about what I would describe as the private dimension to the conjugal act. I believe there are two reasons for this privacy, both rooted in God's word. One is a positive reason; the other is a negative reason.

The positive reason has to do with the exclusivity of the conjugal act itself. A man and a woman give themselves to one another as nuptial gift, and forsaking all others become one flesh. This gift belongs to the two of them alone, and its exclusiveness does not begin and end with the act of penetration itself. Spouses may not, for example, engage in heavy petting with other parties and consider themselves faithful, nor may they perform stripteases for other parties. Nor may spouses invite their neighbors to observe them in the conjugal act, either directly or via electronic media.

Nonsexual nudity in a doctor's office or public locker room is one thing. I also support the principle that nudity can be legitimately used for artistic purposes, though it also presents certain potential difficulties. The body as nuptial gift, though, is something that may be shared only with one's spouse. The gift that is for one pair of hands and arms and body alone is also for one pair of eyes alone. The flip side is also the case. The body as nuptial gift that is not mine to receive with my hands and arms is not mine to receive with my eyes either. My wife has the same right in this connection to my eyes that she has to the rest of me.

Reinforcing this is the negative reason, which has to do with the deep vulnerability of our appetites on this point, and the prominence that God's word and historic Christian belief has placed on warnings against coveting or looking lustfully upon one's neighbor's wife. Sexual sins are far from the worst sins we can commit, but temptations in this area are among the most common, powerful, and overwhelming.

It is not for nothing that God gave our first parents clothing. It is not for nothing that copulating in public, or even walking around in public naked, is generally not allowed. It is not for nothing that bedrooms have doors, or that a man goes into a woman in private and uncovers the mystery of her being. It is not for nothing that any one of us, if he accidentally walked through the wrong door and saw a couple in the throes of passion, would instantly avert his eyes and stumble red-faced from the room as quickly as humanly possible.

Movies have the potential to glamorize and glorify many kinds of immoral behavior. But depicting and watching THIS kind of behavior is DIFFERENT. A gratuitously violent film may be as contrary to human dignity as an excessively sexy one, but God, while he has commanded us not to murder, did not deem it necessary to issue commands having to do with seeing murder, and for a good reason: violent imagery has nowhere near the power of arousing the passions to do likewise that sexy imagery has.

If an action movie tempts a man to long murderously for the villain's death, it is because narratively it has got him to hate that particular villain. It's much easier for a movie to tempt him to long lustfully to see the heroine naked. No special character development or plot devices necessary.

There are limits to what can be legitimately depicted -- and watched -- in art in this connection, whether simulated or in fact. Like many questions in this area, such as what is permitted to a couple on the night before their wedding as opposed to the following night, drawing a clear line may be impossible, but it is quite possible to point to things that are clearly on the far side of the line. And in both cases, actual sex is an example of such a clear-cut violation.

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Nonsexual nudity in a doctor's office or public locker room is one thing. I also support the principle that nudity can be legitimately used for artistic purposes, though it also presents certain potential difficulties. The body as nuptial gift, though, is something that may be shared only with one's spouse.

Agreed.

I was reminded of the cold clinical nudity in "Wit" when I read that paragraph.

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