DID YOU READ

Armond White and the art of trolling.

Armond White and the art of trolling. (photo)

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There are really two kinds of people who care about constantly controversial New York Press critic Armond White. There are those who care about keeping up with film criticism regardless of what the movie is; White’s a veteran critic, a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, etc. He is Important, and you read him. And then there’s the rabid geek who lurks on Rotten Tomatoes, waiting for someone to challenge his or her (or, c’mon, his) sense of priorities.

Like “The 700 Club” and Glenn Beck, White’s work is reliably, pleasurably insane on a week-to-week basis; the volume of the outcry it provokes depends on who’s paying attention. And because the fanboys have a higher web presence than anyone else, it’s no surprise White’s distinctive take on “District 9” has them up in arms. For veteran readers, it’s business as usual: invocations of superior precedents (his beloved Steven Spielberg, natch), dismissive references to movies most people enjoyed as obviously stupid (“Children Of Men”), loving references to movies that annoyed most people (“Indiana Jones And The Crystal Skull”), a Morrissey reference, and… scene. White’s main point — a not unreasonable one, for a change of pace — is that Neill Blomkamp’s apartheid allegory is poorly conceived and trivializes what it seeks to examine. It’s arguable, but at least it is, in fact, arguable.

Roger Ebert saw it that way initially when he wrote “In Defense Of Armond White” — a needed defense, considering Armond’s review stands at 497 comments and counting at Rotten Tomatoes, all of them negative and some of them straight-up racist. Tackling head-on “White’s reputation as a critic who ‘doesn’t like anything,’ ” he harrumphed that “it would be more accurate to say he dislikes a great many films approved of by fanboys.” Ebert likes “District 9,”, but agrees with the legitimate grounds for disliking it. But he backtracked when he saw a chart someone had prepared for the angry hordes, dividing up good and bad movies according to White, and noting that critical darlings “A Christmas Tale” and “The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford” fell under the “Bad movies” category, while first up under “Good movies” was “Transformers 2.”

Well, that was all Ebert needed. In his perpetual war against Michael Bay’s sequel, his mortal cinematic enemy, he was forced to retract and qualify: “It is baffling to me that a critic could praise ‘Transformers 2’ but not ‘Synecdoche, NY.’ […] I am forced to conclude that White is, as charged, a troll. A smart and knowing one, but a troll.” Personally, I’ve never doubted White’s sincerity. His most annoying tic is the one in which he reviews two movies in a week, using one as a stick with which to club the other. There’s no measured middle ground, just ecstasy and agony; this means that he’s occasionally forced to rhapsodize about, say, “Transporter 3.”

White has to enjoy his position as a bomb-thrower, but that doesn’t mean he’s kidding; one does not, generally, build an over two decade career on a desire to publish the print equivalent of “LULZ.” White is many things — most of them annoying — but he’s not a troll. And “Transformers 2” shouldn’t change that anymore than, say, the fact that Ebert gave three and a half stars to Ice Age: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs”. You know?

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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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GIFs via Giphy

Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Mirror, Mirror

Portlandia Season 7 In Hindsight

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available Online and on the IFC App.

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Another season of Portlandia is behind us, and oh what a season it was. We laughed. We cried. And we chuckled uncomfortably while glancing nervously around the room. Like every season before it, the latest Portlandia has held a mirror up to ridiculousness of modern American life, but more than ever that same mirror has reflected our social reality in ways that are at once hysterical and sneakily thought-provoking. Here are just a few of the issues they tackled:

Nationalism

So long, America, Portland is out! And yes, the idea of Portland seceding is still less ludicrous than building a wall.

Men’s Rights

We all saw this coming. Exit gracefully, dudes.

Protests

Whatever you stand for, stand for it together. Or with at least one other person.

Free Love

No matter who we are or how we love, deep down we all have the ability to get stalky.

Social Status

Modern self-esteem basically hinges on likes, so this isn’t really a stretch at all.

These moments are just the tip of the iceberg, and much more can be found in the full seventh season of #Portlandia, available right now #online and on the #IFC app.

via GIPHY

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