She puts the cigarette out in the novelty ashtray, looks around for a sheet to pull over her even though the sweat is three-inches thick on her back, realizes anything resembling sheets got flung halfway down the stairs ages ago, stands up, smiles, and heads on out the room.
Her shoes, her skirt, her T-Shirt that says “Fuck Forever, if you don’t mind”, all that kinda stuff is spread out cross the kitchen.
The record’s something along the lines of She’s Lost Control by Joy Division, although it could just as easily be New Dawn Fades. Truth be told my ears are still ringin’, I can hear fuck all but a pleasant rumble.
And yonder by the telly, 9 Songs. The new Michael Winterbottom flick, a flick we hired out on account of we both dug the hell outta 24 Hour Party People, and also, The Controversy and such.
“Most sexually explicit film ever passed uncut by the BBFC” said the folks in the magazines, a claim neither of us decided to take anything approaching lightly. We’d seen Baise-moi, for fucks sakes. We’d seen all that pistols-in-the-arse, non-simulated penetration, we’d sniggered throughout the hotel shenanigans, the sticky flyin every which way, and we’d hid somewheres between each others shoulders throughout that horrifying bout of unwatchable violence five minutes in.
Mind you, she reminded me, the version we saw wasn’t the one passed by the BBFC.
This is true. Still, they’d left in every last second of the in’s and out’s that didn’t feature guns or forced entry.
The front door opens and closes and there’s the sound of someone incredibly pretty running through the rain in the direction of the bus-stop round the corner.
Aye, t’was a pity fuck, t’was nowt more than a couple hours spent breathing fairly heavily but still not so heavy as to be embarrassing.
What was that Billy Bragg lyric? “She should’ve been the last, but she was just the latest.”
Still, we did what we set out to do. We got out the rain, we watched 9 Songs, we started paying more attention to the lure of the bath-tub, we called each other by all manner of names, everything from “Connor” to “Chase” to “Rasputin”, anything went, so long as she didn’t call me A**** and I didn’t call her E***.
Because there were no nagging voices along the lines of “This might mean something” or “To be honest, I think it best we leave this room as man and wife”, because I knew she was far more interested in the fella who works at the off-licence beside the bookies that really serves as a hush-hush brothel, because she knew I was far too strung-out for to be much of a prospect worth considering, because of this I was fit for to relate how much of an emotional smack in the teeth this 9 Songs was administering.
Was it a heftier smack than it merited? Probably.
Every ten minutes, I’m thinking about Star Wars Episode III.
“I read your article on that”, she says, a length a chewing gum running from her finger to her mouth, “You liked it, far as I remember.”
Yeah, I did. But also, I couldn’t help but think of this lass I knew from back in the day, this girl who was, for sure, absolutely stunning, and by all accounts she had the kinda cravings could leave a man broken on the bench for a month, and yet every time she opened her mouth I got to thinking about how a five-minute hand shandy would be all the more preferable.
She said things like “You’re not a catholic, are you?” and even though I’m not, I pretended I was, just for to see the disgust in her eyes. She would talk about “The French” as if The French was one individual who stood cross from Dover sticking croissants up an arse that ain’t seen water since 1987, before flinging said pastries in the direction of any sensible opinion on economics or defence.
That’s how it was with Revenge Of The Sith, I said. It was gorgeous and my God, it knew what organs for to tickle, but Risen Jandek, I don’t know that I could hear that dialogue for a second without wanting to pierce my ear-drums with javelins of some kind.
And so it is with 9 Songs.
What 9 Songs is all about, is a fella by the name of Matt thinks back on his relationship with a lass called Lisa.
They filth, in unsimulated gloopy close-up.
They go see Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
They filth, maybe he’ll tie her hands to the bedposts before heading Down South for a time.
They go see The Dandy Warhols, Primal Scream, Franz Ferdinand etc.
They argue. She pleasures herself with a vibrator.
They check out Elbow.
She takes him in the mouth, there’s the obligatory Money Shot, it splats all over his chest and rather than run out for to fetch some toilet roll, the two of them just lie there.
That’s the height of the narrative.
Somewhere in the back of the skull, the tiny film critic mutters something about how it approaches Modern Relationships in a similar manner to Eternal Sunshine Of Kirsten’s Smile.
This 9 Songs operates within the same waters of the skull-gunk, although it doesn’t have Kirsten, and tries for to counter this devastating blow by having all manner of real-life unsimulated blows, by having shots from behind where a man can quite clearly see a rubbered-up Johnny stretching from the him to the her, in and out, bent a tad.
By having sticky flying all cross the fella’s navel.
What it does, is it grabs hold the things a fella remembers, the moments that keep him grinning and screaming with equal aplomb every time he thinks back to that lass I shared a few years with.
First things spring to mind; We went to catch Ryan Adams, we filthed for a time in the snow, we saw KoRn, we filthed for a time by an open window just for the cheekiness of it all, we listened to a brilliant record and argued not with gloriously dramatic flailing and bounding, but with barely audible mutterings and eyes that don’t know whether to leak or to burn.
That’s what 9 Songs is all about. It’s about the things nearest the surface of the mentals, the things that are easiest to recall, and if you thought you might find out a damn thing about Matt and Lisa other than how big his sex-limb is when sufficiently excited, or how she looks from the inside, then no, this ain’t a picture to be bothering with.
Oh, and if maybe you don’t feel like sitting through a good forty minutes worth of wall-to-wall real-life filthing, then best head for whatever’s sat beside it on the shelf.
“Is this porn?” Connor asks me, her eyes halfway between disgusted and delighted, whilst on the telly Lisa pleasures Matt with her feet.
“No”, is what I say.
For one thing, if it was, The Duke wouldn’t be watching it, and for another, since when did porn ever have an artistic purpose? Since when did it do anything but arouse? Is this arousing? Sometimes, but no more so than the scene in Body Of Evidence when Madonna was sat on the bonnet of yonder automobile.
Is Body Of Evidence porn? If it is, then porn has gotten seriously shoddy since back in the days when everyone looked like Village People.
9 Songs isn’t porn, because porn requires more than just explicit details, it has to serve a function, or at least attempt to. 9 Songs is a film about relationships that has the sense to know that most times we remember the filthing before we remember a damn thing else.
Plus, porn flicks usually have better dialogue.
That’s the last I’m gonna say on the porn matter, because we both know that Pete only asked in the first place because she knew I’d probably need to address the question at some point.
I give her a kiss. Thanks Bright Eyes.
When she asks if I like it, though, it takes longer to assemble an answer of any sort. It looks beautiful, the performances are exceptional, but it’s all a tad clinical to be honest.
9 Songs has a lot to say about our memories of past endeavors, yes. It has a lot to say about the organs to the south of the naval, but it forgets all about the organ driving blood to those caverns and swellings in the first place.
For it to have any emotional worth at all, it requires that the viewers are in a similar position to Matt, at least in so far as the thought-processes are concerned.
Margot Kidder circa-1978, she looks down at my hand, notes the absence of any ring of any sort these days, and she looks back at the screen. I look down at the mark on her wrist, down where there used to be a declaration along the lines of “E*** + P******”, a declaration that would be done over anew every time it looked like it might even consider getting duller, and then I too look back at the telly.
We both sigh.
9 Songs has a hard time getting a fella to give a fuck, and at the end of it all I knew nothing other than how much the Matt fella thought about shagging, but I identified with the ideas.
These are things we remember.
A few brilliant concerts, a few brilliant songs, a few definitive sexes, too many harsh words.
And that’s it.
How the relationship came to be, how it progressed day-by-day, these things are all readily available, but the second someone says the name of the person who stole a fella’s soul for a time, what races ‘hind the eyes is a collage of sweat and spit and in’s and out’s.
9 Songs is an attempt to present that collage, and it succeeds, but as a piece of dramatic fiction it’s dull as all muddied fuck.
I don’t know that Fairuza Balk circa-1997 cared much for it all, and probably she’d rather it hadn’t flung so many memories upside her teeth with such force, but it also stirred a couple fond ones she’d let slide to the back of an increasingly venomous queue over time.
Still, maybe we’ll go for When Harry Met Sally next time. She’ll be back. She’s forgotten to take her phone.
The Duke resides at Mondo Irlando