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Armond White watch [Was: Obscene film critic statement of the year]


M. Dale Prins
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"No intelligent person really thinks The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, Chocolat, Cider House Rules, In the Bedroom or Chicago are good movies[.]" -- Armond White, "Their Souls for a Freebie," this week's New York Press

Crikey. I have no particular affection for the five movies listed that I've seen (I swear I'll watch The English Patient someday), and I downright dislike the two Hallstr�ms, but oh. My.

Dale

Edited by SDG

Metalfoot on Emmanuel Shall Come to Thee's Noel: "...this album is...monotony...bland, tripy fare..."

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Funny thing about In The Bedroom, at least for me: I left the film thinking, "That didn't work. That REALLY didn't work." Now, many many months later, without seeing it again, I think it really DOES work, because I think of it as often as any film I have seen since. I'm anxious to see what Todd Field does next.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Guest Russell Lucas

That's in most respects a really provocative column. He's got an angle on the screener ban that has gone largely unspoken, I think.

Yeah, there are always good reasons to take shots at the Weinstein/Miramax/Disney argus-eyed octopus (provided you don't take those shots as inartly as Gregg Easterbroook), but I think the stopped clock has still been right a couple of times:

Shakespeare in Love is a really engaging and meritorious tribute to the genius of Shakespeare. Publicity-whoring aside, I'd rather watch it than the Spielberg movie it beat in the popularity contest.

I'm also a big fan of In the Bedroom, and can separate out whatever attention it received as a result of Miramax hype from the film's actual quality.

I won't defend Hallstrom's films, and I haven't seen TEP since I saw it in the theater. But, yeah, I agree with Alan that Chicago is a dizzying piece of good fun. Cynical and wrongheaded, but at least openly insincere enough that it can't be mistaken for anything other than what it is.

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But, yeah, I agree with Alan that Chicago is a dizzying piece of good fun. Cynical and wrongheaded, but at least openly insincere enough that it can't be mistaken for anything other than what it is.
I'm going to quote this vertatim next time I have a discussion with anyone about Chicago.

Just thought you should know. 8)

Scott -- 2nd Story -- Twitter

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\"No intelligent person really thinks The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, Chocolat, Cider House Rules, In the Bedroom or Chicago are good movies[.]\" -- Armond White, \"Their Souls for a Freebie,\" this week's New York Press

Hmmm....

My reviews:

Chocolat - 2.5 stars

Chicago - 3 stars

Cider House Rules - 3 stars

In The Bedroom - 3.5 stars

Shakespeare in Love - 4 stars

I didn't review The English Patient but didn't much care for it. It would have gotten 2 stars.

So now what? Should I take down my critic shingle seeing as I'm not as intelligent as I thought I was?

Michael Elliott

Movie Parables

http://www.christiancritic.com

ccritic@bellsouth.net

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I could live without most of those, however I found In The Bedroom to be pretty good, and I've come around to the line of thinking that Shakespeare In Love is bloody brilliant. Probably all those Renaissance Drama classes that I've been taking, must be making me less intelligent.

Oh, and I've never seen The English Patient...yet.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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  • 2 years later...

Another scathing attack on ... YOU, if you liked Good Night, and Good Luck, The Squid and the Whale, North Country, The Dying Gaul, The Weather Man, Syriana and Capote:

At no time in my experience reading cultural journalism was there a period when the culture was as hostile as today. Awful movies are foisted upon the public through critics' hypocritical confusion of bad taste and private interest. Propaganda for themselves. They automatically acclaim movies that align with their personal beliefs while shunning any intellectual challenge. Conflict-of-interest duds

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I could live without most of those, however I found In The Bedroom to be pretty good, and I've come around to the line of thinking that Shakespeare In Love is bloody brilliant. Probably all those Renaissance Drama classes that I've been taking, must be making me less intelligent.

Oh, and I've never seen The English Patient...yet.

Wow, I feel like Calvin when he says, "I feel sorry for myself back then." sad.gif *sniff*

Just kidding. I've seen The English Patient now, 2 years later, and I liked it a fair bit.

But I've gone from merely thinking Shakespeare In Love is just "bloody brilliant," to thinking that it's one of my absolute favourites of the last 10 years. I LOVE it.

As for that quote Christian, I love the line, "these are films only people who fancy themselves New York intellectuals could love." Not that I agree, but I think it's a hilarious statement.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

Twitter.
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Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

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I loved English Patient and Shakespeare in Love. I enjoyed the adaptation of Chicago to the screen--though it isn't high on my list of favorite musicals, it was very well made.

I'm stupid! STUPID!!!

And quiet, Jeffrey.

-------

Edited by Jason Bortz

[iNSERT SIGNATURE HERE]

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  • 4 years later...

Armond White comes up in several movie-specific threads, and I thought he'd been mentioned in one or more threads about print critics, etc., but those threads didn't come up when I searched on "Armond." This one did. So I'm posting this question here.

Does anyone know White's faith background and/or current affiliation? I ask because he often highlights films with religious themes, and because today a friend sent me a link to an article in First Things that basically republishes White's comments to the New York Film Critics Circle. Why First Things, I wonder?

BTW, White's Wikipedia entry doesn't mention religion.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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His background is that of a cranky old man muttering at himself. Wait, is that his background, or his past?

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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I know his recent behavior re: Baumbach was inexcusable, but I really like Armond White and am not piling on. I suggest everyone read that speech/article at First Things. I don't know if it contains a single statement I disagree with.

I still don't know if White is Catholic, Protestant, just has a traditional streak in him, etc.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Recent? He should be heading up the "film snob" thread. This guy has thought he was the only one to "get it" for years. He also thinks there's an element of society that only reacts so they can feel superior, yet, clearly he's leading the charge.

I don't know if he's religious or traditional. He's a great communicator, no doubt. I read him every once in a while just to admire his writing. But the content is constantly delusional.

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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  • 9 months later...
White also made sure to thank his peers for not awarding any honors to director Noah Baumbach's well-reviewed indie hit 'Greenberg.' Baumbach's continued success has long been a thorn in the critic's side; in his review of Baumbach's 1997 film 'Mr. Jealousy,' White said the director's mother should have had a "retroactive abortion." How tasteful and professional of him.

Good heavens. That's the meanest thing I've ever heard from a film critic. And that includes Ted Baehr.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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White also made sure to thank his peers for not awarding any honors to director Noah Baumbach's well-reviewed indie hit 'Greenberg.' Baumbach's continued success has long been a thorn in the critic's side; in his review of Baumbach's 1997 film 'Mr. Jealousy,' White said the director's mother should have had a "retroactive abortion." How tasteful and professional of him.

Good heavens. That's the meanest thing I've ever heard from a film critic. And that includes Ted Baehr.

Let me say this for the record: Starting today, I take no more notice of White's film writing, in any connection, for any reason. Not even to mock his contrariness. Barring a mea culpa for this obscene comment, I am closing the book on Armond White.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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White also made sure to thank his peers for not awarding any honors to director Noah Baumbach's well-reviewed indie hit 'Greenberg.' Baumbach's continued success has long been a thorn in the critic's side; in his review of Baumbach's 1997 film 'Mr. Jealousy,' White said the director's mother should have had a "retroactive abortion." How tasteful and professional of him.

Good heavens. That's the meanest thing I've ever heard from a film critic. And that includes Ted Baehr.

Let me say this for the record: Starting today, I take no more notice of White's film writing, in any connection, for any reason. Not even to mock his contrariness. Barring a mea culpa for this obscene comment, I am closing the book on Armond White.

I understand your reaction, but if I'm reading the paragraph right, isn't that something he said thirteen or fourteen years ago? How do you know he hasn't already felt bad and apologized? How do we even know he actually said that? Was a link provided at the original article?

... and WHY am I DEFENDING this guy?! I can't stand him. He's like a male version of Judi Dench in Notes on a Scandal.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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I did some Googling. It looks like White semi-denies the apparent implications of the remark but shows no sign of remorse or apology.

It also looks like he pretty much did say it.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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  • 3 years later...

If we have to talk about Armond White, and in light of recent events we probably should, then perhaps this should be the official Armond White thread.

 

This piece by Owen Gleiberman for EW.com on White's ouster from the New York Film Critics Circle is an extraordinarily lucid blend of frustration, sincere appreciation, and regret uncolored by rancor -- and, along the way, offering some sharp insights about criticism in general.

 

It is gratifyingly liberal in its appreciation of the uniqueness of White's voice with all that he brings for good and for ill, even crediting bits of the package that Gleiberman would consider negatives as contributing to the whole: "I truly do believe that Armond White comes to the vast majority of his opinions honestly. He’s a gay African-American fundamentalist-Christian aesthete, and if that doesn’t make him an individual, I don’t know what would."

 

BTW, note that again White denies saying things eyewitnesses claim he said. It appears to be a pattern.

 

I had a hard time excerpting the paragraphs below; everything Gleiberman writes seems vital. Read the whole thing.

 

 

 

Why Armond White got kicked out of the New York Film Critics Circle

This morning, the members of the New York Film Critics Circle, including me, voted to expel Armond White … To me, it was a sad moment — pathetic, really, though Armond brought it on himself. A week ago, at the Circle’s annual awards dinner, White made a rude and bellicose spectacle of himself, as he did the year before, by heckling one of the winners — in this case, Steve McQueen, the director of 12 Years a Slave, a movie that White, in his review, had dismissed as “torture porn.” Make no mistake: He has every right to dislike 12 Years a Slave, a movie that he considers not a powerful historical docudrama but a sensationalist feel-bad fantasy that is subtly designed to make white people feel good about their own guilt.

That’s a provocative view of an acclaimed film (Armond tosses out provocations like grenades and eats acclaimed films for breakfast). But last Monday night, during the awards ceremony, when McQueen got up to the podium to accept his award for Best Director, there were loud and disdainful comments coming from White’s table, and a number of witnesses who were within earshot quoted him as calling McQueen an “embarrassing doorman and garbageman,” and saying, “F— you, kiss my ass!” White has claimed, to writers from The Hollywood Reporter and The New York Times, that he wasn’t heckling, that he and others at his table were just talking amongst themselves. (He has also denied that he said any of those words.) But I was sitting about 40 feet away from him, and though I couldn’t make out everything that was said, I can testify: Everyone at my table lurched around to see where the loud, jeering, disruptive comments were coming from. This unquestionably fit the definition of heckling. It was all meant to be heard by the room at large. When White later claimed that his comments were “sotto voce” (a musical term that literally means “soft voice”), he was either lying or lying to himself, or perhaps both.

The reason that the whole incident, to me, was sad is that Armond White is a critic I have defended, and at times championed, for being an extraordinarily vital voice: not a soft one, to be sure, but a demanding and even important one. As a critic, he is passionate, perverse, furious, infuriating, insightful, obtuse, humane, ruthless, fearless, out of his gourd, and, at his best, outrageously exciting to read. A lot of people despise him, because he can be a bully in print, and he wears the I-stand-alone perversity of his opinions far too proudly, like a military armband. Yet much of the dismissal of Armond is itself way too dismissive. He’s an embattled critic, but one who is often at war with the lockstep tendencies in our culture, and that’s a noble crusade. Sure, there are days when he says that a Transformers movie (or a bad Brian De Palma movie) is superior to anything by Richard Linklater or Steven Soderbergh, and you want to go, “Enough, stop!” But there are other days when he slices through the piety of adoration that surrounds certain movies. He’s a reckless master at unmasking cultural prejudices.

When you want to read a critic, it’s often because something in his or her voice inspires and incites you far beyond their good judgment (or lack of it). You want to crawl inside their head. You want to see things the way they do, even if you don’t agree with them …

Does Armond White simply have his own idiosyncratic opinions? Or is he a contrarian, a bomb thrower who’s deliberately out to rile people up? I would say that both are true, but for most people the contrarian label sums him up, and you often can’t tell where the fearless free-thinker leaves off and the bullying, didactic iconoclast begins. And that’s the problem with Armond’s criticism. He writes like he’s the last honest man in America, but contrarianism, by definition, isn’t completely honest. It’s self-hype, designed to provoke a reaction. I truly do believe that Armond White comes to the vast majority of his opinions honestly. He’s a gay African-American fundamentalist-Christian aesthete, and if that doesn’t make him an individual, I don’t know what would. But it seems to me that Armond, over the years, has become so invested in the idea of how different his gaze is from everyone else’s that he has turned individuality into a species of megalomania. The subtext of too many of Armond’s reviews is: Only I see the truth! And it’s that need to be the only truth-teller in the room that, too often, seems to be driving him …

I’ve known Armond White casually, as a fellow critic, since the early ’90s, and … what I’ve always observed about him is that as contentious as he can be on the page, he has always come off as a strikingly friendly person — not only to me, but even to critics he’s bashed. For all his bluster, he’s got a hearty, understated demeanor, a twinkle in his eye, and a gentle jolly chuckle. You can talk to him about a film he’s disemboweled on the page (one that you loved), and he’ll say what he thinks, but the words always come out a lot mellower than what he wrote. I suppose that could make the more forceful torrents of his writing look scarily “compartmentalized,” but the way I’ve always seen it, Armond cared, to the point of anger, about art, but he was a civil and even gracious person because he recognized that even the people whose work he didn’t respect (filmmakers or critics) were human beings. When he went kamikaze on the page, he was acting like the critic version of a performance artist, transforming his opinions into scalding drama (which is part of what critics do).

P.S. As a retrospective example of White's overly prickly but sometimes worthwhile provocateurship, consider the "obscene statement" with which this thread began.

 

"No intelligent person really thinks The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, Chocolat, Cider House Rules, In the Bedroom or Chicago are good movies[.]" -- Armond White, "Their Souls for a Freebie," this week's New York Press

Crikey. I have no particular affection for the five movies listed that I've seen (I swear I'll watch The English Patient someday), and I downright dislike the two Hallstr�ms, but oh. My.


On the films named, I happen to be basically with Overstreet, who wrote:

 

He's wrong. Some intelligent people DO think In the Bedroom is a good movie. But beyond that... :wink:

 

None of this excuses his pattern of reckless incivility and contempt for others. But it makes it unfortunate. I remember discovering White's appreciative review of The Passion of the Christ back in 2004, peppered with insightful observations, and being glad that this gay African-American fundamentalist-Christian aesthete was out there.

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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  • 2 weeks later...

Armond White on Red Eye.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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