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March 10, 2010


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don r. lewis

S'about time the hens came home to roost on the internets most wordy movie troll. I always took Armond with a grain of salt and used to (sometimes) admire the audacity of his statements, but he's become a parody of himself and is no longer interesting. Maybe the proof that he's spiteful and hateful and unprofessional will relegate him to total obscurity instead of relative.

Fuzzy Bastard

What I never understood is why anyone took him seriously in the first place. I've been vaguely aware of him since the NY Press days, and never read a word by him that wasn't almost compulsively stupid.

John Keefer

Armond Shmarmond. Or Iconoclast Shmconoclast. I'm just looking forward to The People vs. George Lucas. Now there's a movie bully!

Michael Adams

Noah Baumbach: "Armond White is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life."

Steven Santos

Like Fuzzy Bastard says above, I'm not quite sure why anyone took White seriously in the first place. I read him more consistently in the 90's and found his arguments and writing to be amateurish and attention-seeking back then. I sensed the tide started to turn when he trashed all online critics in that piece a couple of years ago.

This should be the nail in the coffin, but I think that can only happen if everyone just ignores this attention whore. A controversy like this is something that he feeds on and it wouldn't surprise me that he sent that e-mail out to manufacture more controversy. I don't think being proven a liar in this case shames him at all, as long as everyone is talking about him. That's always his end goal.

Match Cuts

White once said in a podcast at the 2008 NYFF, referencing Wes Anderson's friendship with Baumbach, that it was a testament to Anderson's warmth and humanity (and apparently filmmaking genius) that he was friends with such a man. Now with this latest debacle, that comment makes even more sense. White has always been a complete joke to me, as someone said above, since he continually appears to be an attention seeking bully. But his top ten lists are annually the funniest (and most ridiculous) thing published in film criticism. I mean come on - THIS IS IT and NEXT DAY AIR are masterpieces in everyone's book, right?

Ben Sachs

I'm always quick to mention that several of White's long pieces in Film Comment in the 90s--about late Godard, about Rohmer--were big inspirations for me. He wrote with a large grasp of film history and a personal investment in what he saw. I found it provocative that he'd write about pop culture and high culture with the same vocabulary; it posed a challenge to my tastes as they developed.

That said, I don't know what White (or any critic, for that matter) gains by attacking other critics on grounds of personal character. I may disagree with certain writers, but I have to remember that, in the scheme of things, it's a pretty small club we belong to. If someone's going to make a living, even a hobby, out of writing about movies, it's should be because he/she loves them.

Chris O.

The synchronicity of the debacle with the Variety/McCarthy news this week makes it even more strange. I'm not sure what it says exactly, big picture-wise, if anything. But if I were White, I'd tone down negative attention-grabbing lest it be a red flag reminder to budget-trimmin' powers-that-be that you're a movie critic on a payroll.

In other news, there's a neat piece on Kenneth Anger in The Guardian today.

Glenn Kenny

I know some of you might not believe this, but back in the day I could be inclined to defend White. Partially on the basis of some of the Film Comment pieces Ben cites, although looking back on them now, they seem kind of light on really specific analysis. A dip into his collection "The Resistance" was also likely to get the juices flowing. A Premiere colleague who had actually gone to school with White used to roll his eyes whenever I'd hazard that White had a point about this or that; he swore that the guy always had been and always would be a fraud. Subsequent developments seem to have borne him out—my colleague, I mean—as White's work got more irrational, vindictive, and factual-error-and-solecism filled. All of these tendencies were exacerbated by White working without the benefit of competent editing. If you wonder why White's Criterion booklet essays read so well, and so reasonably, compared to his New York Press stuff, well, it's very simple: Criterion has an editorial staff, and an excellent one at that. (I wonder if sometimes if Criterion awards White gigs just to torment its copy editor Brian McKreight, who used to work at Premiere and is one of the best, and most thorough, in the biz. )

Matthias Galvin

Even though all indication is that the man is a troll, I think Armond White is worth having around. If one understands any sort of bias (or even prejudice), then any strong disagreement, possibly offense, immediately gets diffused. Much as critics may try, White too cannot escape either personal reaction nor opinion; his opinions while strong, are indeed supported. And on his opinions which are not: any critical idea is only as strong as analysis upon which it's based.

In a more abstract way, AN Armond White is a sort of necessary critical personality: if nothing else, his opinion can/does force the reader to reconsider the film at least. Perhaps this isn't as universally true as I might consider it, but his work has done so for me (even if I don't always agree).

Maybe it's irresponsible for me to be this willing to let him off the hook (yet again, but only for his content. It's a shame that he can't have a little more class than to make that statement...

Glenn Kenny

You are correct Matthias, but the White issue has long been bleeding outside of the realms of critical practice. It isn't a matter of his opinions, unsupported or not. It's that he constantly postures as the only moral actor in film criticism, and then turns around and behaves vindictively and dishonestly (e.g., his dissembling over the "retroactive abortion" remark). There's being a contrarian, and there's being a blowhard, and then there's being full of shit...and then there's being genuinely unbalanced. And after that, I suppose we'll see.

James Keepnews

Currently making the blog rounds: http://img8.imageshack.us/img8/1897/armondwhiteisntinsane.jpg (may need to use your browser's "zoom" function, which usually just means clicking on the image).

Point, laugh, discuss...


Looking at all of his top ten lists from 1997 to 2006 is even better. It's a mixture of really good stuff and crazy Armond stuff, but the kicker is that every single film that Spielberg made during that time period is included. All of 'em. Yes, even The Lost World and The Terminal.


Jeff McMahon

Looking at that first list, I have to agree with Armond that Mr. 3000 and CJ7 are good movies and that 500 Days of Summer, American Gangster, Star Trek, and Across the Universe are all bad movies.

Another of my favorite Armondisms: he panned Final Destination but praised Final Destination 3 (made by the same filmmakers).


"his opinions while strong, are indeed supported" - by whom exactly? Certainly not by him. He APPEARS to support his opinions with arguments, but if you read him carefully you'll find nothing but endless statements piled on top of one another. He's constantly slinging around the word "proof," but he doesn't ever actually get around to building arguments himself. If you were to look at everything he's ever written about Clint Eastwood, for instance, all I think you'd find at the core it all is that he doesn't like him. All it amounts to is a collection of stray adjectives and unfavorable comparisons with Steven Spielberg.

Once upon a time, I was also glad he was around. But in all honesty, I think his addiction to moral extremity and isolation got the better of him years ago. It's been a very sad spectacle.


There is an interview with Armond White about this brouhaha at hollywoodnews.com (http://www.hollywoodnews.com/2010/03/11/exclusive-armond-white-dislikes-baumbachs-movies/) in which he addresses the scenario, saying the following:

“I have no more against Noah Baumbach than I do against Michael Mann,” White told HollywoodNews.com. “I never met either of them. It’s not personal. I just don’t like their movies.”

“Reading the English language, I am not calling for him to be aborted,” White told HollywoodNews.com. “But (Hoberman) decides I am calling for Noah’s abortion. He sides with the mob. What a jerk.”

And he does resort to a form of the "some of my best friends are.." argument:

I think Jennifer Jason Leigh is the best actress in America,” White said. “He thinks I hate his mother, but I really love his wife. That seems not to matter. I’m on record calling her the best actress in the ’90s, but that seems not to matter. So, where is the grudge? You look at my reviews of Jennifer Jason Leigh and I’m praising her to the skies.”

What continually irks, far beyond any issues one may have with the substance of White's writings on a filmic level, is his continual hypocrisy, short-memory or whatever one would like to label it. Armond White says here:

"“I have no more against Noah Baumbach than I do against Michael Mann,” White told HollywoodNews.com. “I never met either of them. It’s not personal. I just don’t like their movies.”

It is his own blindness to his own past words and thoughts that really rankles. He has said, in 2007, that "You look at Noah Baumbach's work, and you see he's an asshole. I would say it to his face." Now he is welcome to his opinion, critically and personally, but it is the disingenuous claims in this article that he has nothing against Noah Baumbach and it isn't personal. It is a continual tactic of White's to deny claims he has made in the past when he is called on them. Please, he should at least have the gumption to stand by his statements and not claim he is the victim when someone calls him on his own published remarks. This is a pattern that has shown itself routinely over the years. It is similar to his claim that his first ammendment rights are being violated, a gross overreaction in which he can only be the correct party, and a misreading of the truth (this is not a first amendment issue).

Glenn Kenny

@ Albert: As much as I'm disinclined to further feed this particular troll—A.W. that is—in any way, I have to admit the interview does contain its share of gems. My favorite is his defense of his inability to defend himself during that Lopate radio show exchange: “I was just being too clever.”

As fucking if.


About that Armond White isn't insane pic, I would agree with him that The Hangover, State of Play, 500 Days Of Summer, Before The Devil Knows You're Dead, Eastern Promises, The Reader, American Gangster, Revolutionary Road, The Dark Knight, Doubt, Across The Universe, Gran Torino, Ben Button, Julie and Julia, Knocked Up, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona are all pretty awful movies. He's wrong about a few, like Zodiac. Of course White is an awful critic, but that jpg actually makes him look pretty smart.

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