Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno & Intermezzo (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2017/2019)

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furbicide
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Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno & Intermezzo (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2017/2019)

#1 Post by furbicide » Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:02 pm

Anyone had a chance to see this yet? It premiered at Venice all the way back in September last year. I'm surprised it's not receiving more buzz, given it's a follow-up to a (broadly praised) Palme d'or winner – and the critical reviews have generally been positive so far:

https://www.criterion.com/current/posts ... ub-my-love

Here's a trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtSlkrzeaAs

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Re: Mektoub My Love: Canto Uno (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2017)

#2 Post by Aunt Peg » Fri Jul 06, 2018 3:00 am

I saw this a few weeks ago. Certainly overlong and indulgent at times but still worthwhile. Newcomer Ophélie Bau is a real find. She oozes charisma plus.

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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#3 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu May 23, 2019 7:49 pm


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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#4 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu May 23, 2019 8:01 pm

Ooh, Ehrlich’s is even better:
“David Ehrlich” wrote:The nightclub sequence quickly stretches into an endurance test of the highest order, as the girls dance cheek-to-cheek on stage and Kechiche lingers on close-ups of Ophélie’s jack-hammering ass for several minutes at a time… only to cut away to some other business in the club before returning to Ophelie’s jack-hammering ass for several more minutes at a time. Repeat ad infinitum, until — at one point — this very tired critic experienced a brief and not altogether unpleasant nervous breakdown, hysterically cry-laughing for no apparent reason for the (much) better part of an hour.

Kechiche argues that becoming the Béla Tarr of butt shots helps him “to get across this feeling of a soul that exists,” and while that’s just about the most delusional thing anyone has ever said in a public forum, there’s some evident truth to the idea that bodies are more expressive vessels of desire than words can ever be. Over time, as Kechiche’s mind-numbing shots disassociate these bodies from their basic functions and find a kind of pure meaning in the wild paroxysms of ritualistic movement, you can appreciate what one character means when they say that “madness is truth.”...

...And even when the audience is induced into fits of uncontrollable laughter, they’re still unmistakably the butt of his big joke. At least for now. Given that “Intermezzo” once again ends on an open-ended note, and that its title implies another installment to come, festival-goers might feel compelled to brace for “Mektoub: Chapter 3: Perineum” in 2021. And yet, despite its prestigious Cannes premiere, this middle chapter may just kill any hope Kechiche has of securing the money he needs for his grand finale. It’s one thing to get people to stare at butts for a cumulative total of seven hours, but no one wants to see a piece of shit.

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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#5 Post by domino harvey » Thu May 23, 2019 8:05 pm

That is a hilarious review (love the MRI line) that dissuades me not one bit from wanting to see this regardless

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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#6 Post by knives » Thu May 23, 2019 10:10 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 8:05 pm
That is a hilarious review (love the MRI line) that dissuades me not one bit from wanting to see this regardless
The review honestly had me thinking that's a good description of Secret of the Grain which is one of my favorites of the last twenty years.

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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#7 Post by lzx » Fri May 24, 2019 12:52 am

knives wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 10:10 pm
The review honestly had me thinking that's a good description of Secret of the Grain which is one of my favorites of the last twenty years.
Justin Chang vehemently refutes that in another butt pun-laden review, possibly the most scathing I've read thus far:
I have no objection to explicit depictions of sexuality, genuine sensuality being too rare a commodity in mainstream movies. . . . I have every objection, however, to a filmmaker as gifted as Kechiche — the Kechiche who made “Blue” and “The Secret of the Grain” and “Games of Love and Chance” — turning his aesthetic shortcomings into the cheapest of provocations, and turning his actresses’ bodies into bludgeoning instruments. Kechiche doesn’t just sell out his characters, his story and his collaborators; he sells out his own talent.

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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#8 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri May 24, 2019 1:40 am

Not to get all pretentious about these reviews of the Kechiche, but what about the popular culture/social media moment would make an art film that prominently features female butts out of place or somehow distasteful? LexG, one of the better Twitter users out there (warts and all), often makes the argument that male film critics of today often walk on eggshells, only getting their Tex Avery wolf routine out for women on the higher end of 40 - and if anything the pearl clutching reaction to this film confirms that no one wants to go "Hey, butts are everywhere. Including here. So let's just talk about the merits of the narrative and the filmmaking and get over the whole Puritan act." like they probably should, but know they never can.

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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#9 Post by furbicide » Fri May 24, 2019 1:51 am

Totally agree, mfunk – there is something undeniably puritanical about the reviews. The best response to accusations of some kind of "pornographic" aesthetic is "so what?" Surely we're at a point now where we can accept that the art/porn divide is spurious and that we can still judge a film on its artistic merits.

Having said all that, I did get a laugh out of this line from Ehrlich:
more ass than any movie since Au Hasard Balthazar

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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#10 Post by tenia » Fri May 24, 2019 2:00 am

The issue is not that he's filming female butts, but that he's leering on them as if he sold to us an art film while he's actually filming a 70s nighttime cheap TV erotica to the point one might wonder if this isn't the core of what he's currently doing. The question thus isn't "so what ?" (which I find dismissive of the whole argument) but "isn't that not very good ?".

It deserves indeed to be judged on its own merits and not through a prism in which it's already dismissed by default, but I did find Canto Uno to often be laughably amateurish in its aesthetic (it might stem from its photogaphy that I found very flat), but the fact that this 3hrs cinderblock is peppered with shots and shots of female butts only amped up my laughing furthermore.

I absolutely didn't mind the sex scenes in Blue (though I found some superfluously over extended), because the rest of the movie felt it was justifying them. I didn't feel that a bit with Canto Uno, and these butt shots simply felt vastly self-indulgent.

EDIT : just saw that Buchanan also uses the word "leering".

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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#11 Post by furbicide » Fri May 24, 2019 2:23 am

I think those are all mostly fair critiques, and of course it’s totally reasonable to criticise the film for being shallow, badly made, etc. But the specific charge of “leering” is interesting – isn’t it a pejorative description for what a camera does when it focuses on anything, including anatomy? The implied distinction relates to time, i.e. that a quick glimpse of flesh is chaste, whereas a prolonged stare is pornographic, discomforting, creepy. But that’s an artificial distinction, because all cinema is voyeuristic (i.e. we’re all creeps looking through people’s windows with binoculars), and I feel like what a lot of reviewers were reacting to negatively about BITWC (which is where this “Kechiche is a creep” thing started), for instance, was their own discomfort about having to look for so long.

I suspect this discomfort is mostly a reaction to being forced to look at bodies in a way that wouldn’t be socially appropriate in public. And yet, I’m sure at least some of these reviewers like to leer at butts from time to time via somebody else’s camera in the privacy of their own homes, so it really does seem to me to be an art/porn dichotomy thing – the assertion being that such a pornographic gaze has no place in an “art” film. I think the (particularly male) reviewers ought to interrogate that further before leaning too heavily on the “lol what a perv” angle.
Last edited by furbicide on Fri May 24, 2019 2:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#12 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri May 24, 2019 2:23 am

Where's the line, though? I haven't seen this film, but I have seen entire beloved art pictures entirely centered on very nicely shot leering. Leering at beautiful things and beautiful people is as valid a part of life as some story about a one in a million tragedy, ya know?

EDIT: Written before I took in furbicide's reply, which covers much of the same territory, more eloquently than I did!

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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#13 Post by tenia » Fri May 24, 2019 4:24 am

furbicide wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 2:23 am
I think those are all mostly fair critiques, and of course it’s totally reasonable to criticise the film for being shallow, badly made, etc. But the specific charge of “leering” is interesting – isn’t it a pejorative description for what a camera does when it focuses on anything, including anatomy? [...] I suspect this discomfort is mostly a reaction to being forced to look at bodies in a way that wouldn’t be socially appropriate in public. And yet, I’m sure at least some of these reviewers like to leer at butts from time to time via somebody else’s camera in the privacy of their own homes, so it really does seem to me to be an art/porn dichotomy thing – the assertion being that such a pornographic gaze has no place in an “art” film.
This is indeed all fair remarks too, and likely true. I think it's not so much a "porn aesthetic" than just women objectification. I also don't think people have issues with porn glaze in a movie but that Kechiche seems so much obsessed with butts nowadays that the story framing seem like diversions more than anything he's that much interested in telling.

I didn't find it to be the case in Blue, but Canto Uno does feel like this very often while Intermezzo seemingly contains no less than 178 shots of butts so there's that.

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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#14 Post by knives » Fri May 24, 2019 6:53 am

mfunk9786 wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 2:23 am
Where's the line, though? I haven't seen this film, but I have seen entire beloved art pictures entirely centered on very nicely shot leering. Leering at beautiful things and beautiful people is as valid a part of life as some story about a one in a million tragedy, ya know?

EDIT: Written before I took in furbicide's reply, which covers much of the same territory, more eloquently than I did!
I think this is an important point. What's the difference between a butt here and a hand over wheat in a Malick film?

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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#15 Post by tenia » Fri May 24, 2019 8:11 am

knives wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 6:53 am
What's the difference between a butt here and a hand over wheat in a Malick film?
Hands aren't part of what is considered intimate human parts and secondary sex characteristics ?

Note that I don't really care that much about all this discussion about "where to draw the line" (though I do think going in the direction of such comparisons is quite a slippery slope), but it seems like a legitimate remark to say that female butt objectification has a particular connotation in our Occidental culture that sets it apart than, say, close-ups on hands (especially in a movie where, seemingly, there's much more decency when it comes to showing male attributes). It's thus not so much as leering on beautiful people with beautiful stories than leering on beautiful young girls with beautiful butts (something, as furbicide wrote, people like me might not mind at all though and I like seeing beautiful butts very much myself).

In the context of Kechiche most recents movies, it also seems like a legitimate prism (though a tad heavy on pattern-searching) through which analysing his latest movie, especially considering he's currently investigated over a potential sexual assault, and the rumor has it Ophélie Bau left yesterday's showing of Intermezzo and didn't take part in the press conference because Kechiche included her sex scene without telling her no showing her beforehands to check she was OK with the result on-screen (but I guess that was to be expected considering the likely sexually explicit material and the very rushed editing).

Kechiche stated however that he cut lots of dialogue because he thought the movie would be too long otherwise, but he now regrets it and will include some back for the theatrical version.


All this not to say all reviews are right in the way they're looking at such cases, but just that questioning this doesn't automatically makes you a puritan.

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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#16 Post by dda1996a » Fri May 24, 2019 9:28 am

knives wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 6:53 am
mfunk9786 wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 2:23 am
Where's the line, though? I haven't seen this film, but I have seen entire beloved art pictures entirely centered on very nicely shot leering. Leering at beautiful things and beautiful people is as valid a part of life as some story about a one in a million tragedy, ya know?

EDIT: Written before I took in furbicide's reply, which covers much of the same territory, more eloquently than I did!
I think this is an important point. What's the difference between a butt here and a hand over wheat in a Malick film?
I'm all for not being puritanical, but there is a big difference between hands touching a part of nature and the female butt. I think it comes down to representation. I love Greenaway's films (for the most part), but his films are very open about human sexuality and both males and females are shown completely naked. But there are films that present only female nudity when it isnt even necessary. I find all the Hollywood sex scenes with clothed people completely unrealistic, but sometimes having a random female nudity scene can feel as unrealistic and unnecessary as the tame Hollywood version.
But there is a difference between the wonders of nature, human body, and just showing female body parts for the fun of it. I for one didn't even see anything to criticize in Blue is the Warmest Color to be honest, but there the sexuality felt necessary, part of the characters baring themselves.

What I do hate is almost every review mentioning the #MeeToo in regards to the movie. A film could work and a film can fail, as long as it works dramatically/artistically. What would most people think of Vertigo today? And that is one brilliant film about "leering".

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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#17 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri May 24, 2019 9:36 am

Yes, a female butt, that famously unnatural and inorganic thing

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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#18 Post by dda1996a » Fri May 24, 2019 10:03 am

Did I say that? I could very much do without your patronizing tone, but I never wrote that. I said nature and the human body are basically one and the same. What I do find annoying is scenes only showing the female bossom/behind while ignoring both her actual sexual organ, and completely hiding her male counterpart (when there is one) because God forbid we see a penis. And I am a straight male if that is in any way relevant for this discussion.
I'll take Noe's Love over many other sexually themed mocies,, a film I found honest in it's portrayal of human sexuality (if only Now found actual drama there I'd loved it more).

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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#19 Post by tenia » Fri May 24, 2019 10:15 am

mfunk9786 wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 9:36 am
Yes, a female butt, that famously unnatural and inorganic thing
Aaaaaaaand that's all for me on this one.

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Re: Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno & Intermezzo (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2017/2019)

#20 Post by Professor Wagstaff » Fri May 24, 2019 11:36 am

I have only seen Canto Uno, but I do find it interesting that these critics did not say these exact same things about the first entry since Intermezzo sounds like it’s doing exactly what Canto Uno did, butts and all. I’m not sure if these critics missed that first film or the cultural climate has changed that much since then (back to the puritanical claims), but it’s surprising to read how much more measured the reviews were for the same basic content a short while ago.

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Re: Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno & Intermezzo (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2017/2019)

#21 Post by Shrew » Fri May 24, 2019 11:54 am

Most of them did miss the first film, as Canto Uno never got an official US release, and most of these critics have only done the Cannes beat, not Venice. (You can complain that American critics thus only have half a clue what's going on in the International film world, but with the state of the industry we're lucky publications are still sending people to any European film fest.)

And the link in the first post to Criterion's Daily roundup of Canto Uno's reviews does give plenty of complaints about objectification, though it's more measured and mixed with praise. For example:
Jonathan Romney at Film Comment wrote:one, it’s over-long and unfocused, and two, it’s aggressively, indeed lip-smackingly objectifying of its female characters....You wince at the camera’s undisguised lechery, but the sheer exuberance knocks you over.

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Re: Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno & Intermezzo (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2017/2019)

#22 Post by tenia » Fri May 24, 2019 12:05 pm

Some critics in France (and many forum members) made the same critics about Canto Uno. The idea of counting butt shots in Intermezzo isn't a random one. Some were already talking of Canto Uno as "3 hours in nothingness during which we follow young people's faineancy from beaches to night clubs, saying redunding appalling dialogues, and Kechiche filming them up close, lingering heavily on women's body with an embarrassing insistence and a suspect complacency". Others mentioned how Kechiche's cinema seemed more and more like an "ultra-masculine view that turns here into recycling so many tropes and symbols that it confines to clichés, and the movie indulges in these representations rather than managing to escape them".

From what I've read about this new movie, it just seems like the 2 movies are quite different in content and possibly in style, with Intermezzo indulging even more objectification, which I supposed explain the different reception, independantly of the current socio-cultural climate. More generally, most of the people I know and who watched both movies are describing Intermezzo as being inferior to Canto Uno.

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Re: Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno & Intermezzo (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2017/2019)

#23 Post by domino harvey » Fri May 24, 2019 12:09 pm

I think the question here, and perhaps it’s easier for me to naively ask because I haven’t seen either film yet, is where is the line between erotic appreciation of a woman’s body and objectification? Is there a distinction? Are we all so Victorian now that aesthetic focus on the female form is automatically sexist? Are women not allowed the freedom to choose to be filmed and presented this way? Outraged reactions to films like this often put the actresses in them in a position of no volition or consent, but you have to imagine a thirteen minute oral sex scene requires some time for awareness from the participating actress during filming that it’s occurring. I think the answers to these kind of questions don’t always fit the ideas/narrative those asking already have or want to further, so they don’t get asked. It may also be completely beside the point and these films are terrible no matter the answers, despite or because or regardless of these factors

I’m curious— have any of these hand-wringing male reviewers had the balls, so to speak, to do what Gene Siskel repeatedly did on his show and admit when a film (any film, not necessarily this one) turned them on and allow that to be an open factor in their enjoyment?

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Re: Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno & Intermezzo (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2017/2019)

#24 Post by jindianajonz » Fri May 24, 2019 1:13 pm

Obviously there's no clear line, but I think the intent of the director factors heavily into it. I'm sure I wasn't the only one moved by the piece Selma Hayack wrote for the NYT about how Weinstein made her insert sex scenes in order to get Frida made. Can you agree that this type of base, transactional scene falls firmly under objectification but not erotic appreciation? Likewise, Game of Thrones was notorious in earlier seasons for demanding that female characters disrobe in ways that had nothing to do wtih the plot- indeed, some scenes served as a pornographic alternative to a "talking head" scene, where nudity was offerred BECAUSE the exposition was otherwise quite dense. Now obviously the line gets murkier as you move closer towards artistic nudity, and I'm sure even the director can't be fully certain of what his subconcious intentions were when creating a sex scene, but I think blatant objectification tends to be easier to recognize.

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Re: Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno & Intermezzo (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2017/2019)

#25 Post by tenia » Fri May 24, 2019 3:16 pm

I might not have right now better examples but I'd say Kechiche films girls in Canto Uno like Michael Bay did with Megan Fox in Transformers.

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