Junebug orchestrates a muted cultural clash, when a Chicago gallery dealer (Embeth Davidtz) drags her new husband (Alessandro Nivola) back to his Carolina roots so she can woo a modestly obscene "outsider" artist ("I love all the dogs' heads, and computers, and all the scrotums") and, secondarily, so she can meet his family: churchy folk suspicious of a different type of outsider. Her blockhead brother-in-law doesn't take kindly to her efforts to help him with his paper on Huckleberry Finn ("Did you think it was funny?" "No, I thought it was long"), and her mother-in-law sizes her up as all wrong ("She's too pretty, she's too smart, and that's a deadly combination"), and her father-in-law keeps himself to himself. Only the kin by marriage, a non-sequitur motormouth nine months pregnant, lays out the welcome mat: a showy role for Amy Adams, if a tad condescending, a hand-me-down Dixie ditz. The first feature of Phil Morrison exhibits several of the most basic "indie" indicators: a milky, diluted image; too-quiet, unatmospheric sound; a character-driven storyline that's more drifting than actually driven. There's a nice scene at the church social when the interloper finds out, to her amazement, that her husband is prized for his hymn singing, but there's no followup to it, not so much as a what-the-hell.
9 Songs, a half-baked hot dish of sex and rock-and-roll, signals another penetration (so to speak) of triple-X hardcore into the aboveground art house, a plotless chronicle of the burbling passion of two young strangers who meet at a concert and then go on attending concerts in between demonstrations of their passion: tonguing, fingering, toeing, dildoing, and finally, certifiably, condomed copulating. The blow job, unlike the job in The Brown Bunny, is manifestly a finished job, but then again these actors (Kieran O'Brien, Margo Stilley) are unknowns, and in the case of the actress, patently nonprofessional. The director, on the other hand, Michael Winterbottom, is well enough known (Code 46, 24-Hour Party People, to limit the examples to numerical titles) if not equally well respected. 9 Songs can only widen the space between "known" and "respected." Its ill-lit, grainy video photography ranks as not just subpar, but subporn; and its concert footage, shaky, zoomy, cut-cut- cutty, achieves extreme mediocrity. Clearly this was an idea not worth doing right.