9 Songs  Directors: Michael Winterbottom Genre: Drama/Music/Romance Language: English Country: UK
Sex, drugs and rock & roll. Literally.
9 Songs is a British film from director Michael Winterbottom that has received some degree of notoriety due to its excessive and graphic sex scenes. In between the increasingly more hardcore endeavors, the movie shows concert footage from Brixton Academy and other music venues. Basically, the movie is half-concerts and half-porn.
There isn’t much of a story here. A guy (Kieran O’Brien) and a girl (Margo Stilley) meet at a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club show, hit it off and then embark on a frantic fling that is equal parts sex, drugs and rock & roll. The movie jumps back and forth between random concert footage, sex, and the occasional shots of Antarctica (because the dude is a glaciologist). That’s it. As mentioned earlier, the scenes become more graphic as the movie goes on. Most of these scenes are short in length, and would really only be offensive to prudes. There is a scene of male ejaculation, allegedly the first “mainstream” film to show this, and later on there is actual penetration shown, but there really isn’t anything exciting about all of this. Some consider it “art” and I suppose technically it is, but that doesn’t mean it is good and/or entertaining. Without any real context to piece everything together, I found it difficult to maintain my interest.
To be fair, there were two things I did like about this movie. One, the actors used were not gaudy porn star-types — they were normal looking folk who certainly wouldn’t be out of place at the concerts they frequented. Two, there was a lot of good music from bands like Franz Ferdinand, Primal Scream and Super Furry Animals. Unfortunately, the concert sequences were often aborted early, and in general, the pacing used throughout felt rough overall.
I have only seen one of Winterbottom’s other movies – 24 Hour Party People – and I quite enjoyed it. I respect his decision to try this experiment, but it just didn’t work. Even with its short length (69 minutes – how appropriate), I would advise you to ignore your curiosity and either A) watch a concert film, or B) just go all the way with real porn. 9 Songs is an interesting idea in theory, but it just comes across as a half-assed mashup of music and sex.
Cocaine Angel  Director: Michael Tully Genre: Drama Language: English Country: USA
Cocaine Angel is a low-budget indie film that follows a junkie’s day-to-day activities in Jacksonville, Florida. The movie’s screenwriter, Damian Lahey, plays the lead role of Scott, a 20-something who has hit rock bottom and has one goal in life: to find his next fix. And so the movie goes, with Scott venturing across the slums of Jacksonville, all the while drinking booze and getting high. Watch Scott be a deadbeat father and leave his 5-year-old daughter in the car while he gets high in the gas station’s bathroom! Watch Scott receive head from a friend’s pregnant wife while her toddler sleeps next to them! Watch Scott go to the hospital to find his friend, who recently overdosed! Uh, yeah, exciting stuff indeed.
The movie’s biggest problem is by far its acting. I get that the film is supposed to be gritty and realistic based on its budget, but it is hard to take any of this seriously when the acting is so terrible. Lahey is poor in the lead role, and should have likely just stuck to his writing gig. The supporting cast of ragtag junkies and misfits are even more laughable, and they make the movie come across as little more than a film student’s final project.
I was initially intrigued by the movie due to its “black comedy” label, but there is little in here that is even remotely amusing. Am I supposed to laugh about the lead character’s foot being wrapped in toilet paper throughout the entire movie due to some unmentioned injury? Or maybe the aforementioned fellacio scene is supposed to be humorous? Nothing really struck me as “funny” in any fashion.
Ultimately, Cocaine Angel is a meager attempt at portraying the life of a junkie. Sure, what happens in the film is potentially realistic — nothing out of the ordinary for addicts — but that does not mean the movie is any good. With unbelievably bad amateur acting and unlikeable characters, Cocaine Angel is just a mess of a film. There are so many better titles in this genre — don’t waste your time with this one.