Bareback Mountain

Two new DVDs travel the rough terrain of porn and online sex.

By Leo Charney
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jan. 18, 2006

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Can sex carry a movie all by itself? 9 Songs is the film that wants to find out. When it played (briefly) in theaters last year, it was widely mocked as, in the words of PW 's Sean Burns, a "boring porno" in which a London couple goes to a rock concert, has sex, goes to another concert, has more sex, and so on till they break up.

And when I say "has sex," I mean it. These two actors are really having sex on camera, which puts 9 Songs in a weird gray area between a hardcore porno and a Euro art film.

So if this is porn (or porn-lite), what's it like to watch it at home, without the creepy embarrassment of sharing it with strangers in a dark theater? Even less like a porno, as it turns out. On DVD 9 Songs feels more like an underrated stab at capturing something intangible about relationships-the smells and the sex and the pheromones that keep people together for a while even if they have little in common, don't have much to say to each other or even don't like each other all that much.

The movie's use of hip indie rock, from the title on down, is hardly accidental, since director Michael Winterbottom wants to evoke feelings closer to music than to traditional stories. Sex for these people is a trance state, an experience of pulsing sensations, like the concerts they go to. It's not about a step-by-step story, but about how things feel and how those sensations occupy space, time and your body.

Winterbottom throws in yet another metaphor, framing the sex story with the man's voiceover, remembering the affair as he flies around a vast, snowy wasteland-as unknowable and, um, impenetrable as another person, yet just as alluring in its opaque, sexy surface.

Winterbottom's no Bertolucci, but at least he's trying to do something with a movie that makes it more than just a story. This kind of filmmaking will always be an acquired taste, but it captures something vividly real about both relationships and movies: Sometimes they're just about the beat and the feelings. B

Includes: Interviews, concert performance-only option, and more.
You'll Like It If You Like: Last Tango in Paris, sex movies, art movies.

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