DID YOU READ

Armond White and J. Hoberman Entertainingly Feuding Again

Armond White and J. Hoberman Entertainingly Feuding Again (photo)

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It may not be Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris fighting over auteur theory and circles and squares, but the ongoing tiff between Village Voice and New York Press film critics J. Hoberman and Armond White is turning into quite the critical feud. Call it New York Critics Circle and Squares.

Tension between the two has simmered for years, and most recently flared up surrounding the release of director Noah Baumbach’s 2010 film “Greenberg.” In sum: White may or may not have been disinvited from a press screening of “Greenberg” because of his long-running feud with Baumbach’s mother, former Voice critic Georgia Brown; Hoberman republished a review to prove that White had indeed suggested Brown should have aborted Baumbach; White took umbrage and retaliated with a piece of his own which compared Hoberman to “nefarious, shadowy dictator in a Fritz Lang silent” because he teaches film criticism classes at NYU (which, full disclosure, I once attended).

The latest flareup in this bitterly cold war of the words surrounds what did or did not happen at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards on January 10. White, as NYFCC chairman, had the honor of hosting the ceremony and he made quite an impression. According to Gawker’s account of the evening, he bickered with “Black Swan” director Darren Aronofsky and introduced playwright Tony Kushner to present an award to “The Social Network” (a movie White hated) by saying “Maybe he can explain why it won best picture.” He dredged up his issues with Baumbach by concluding the night with the line, “I thank the Circle for not awarding a single award to ‘Greenberg.'” He might have also made Annette Bening cry.

Not so, says Armond! In his response to the NYFCC hullabaloo in the New York Press, he cites Bening as a great voice of reason during the whole affair, admiring the speech she gave in which she described the “symbiotic relationship” between filmmakers and critics. “I felt Bening’s speech was like music (I told her so),” White claims. I guess any tear duct discharge was merely coincidental.

White also includes the full text of his Kushner introduction, which paints his remarks in an even more unflattering light than Gawker’s version. The full put down line, according to its author, was “Surely Kushner, whose great play ‘Angels in American’ showed how spiritual and social connections transformed lust and duty to family, friends and country into moral responsibility, will explain why ‘The Social Network’ is deserving.” Kushner didn’t take the bait, prompting White to call his presentation “glib and fastpaced.”

More pressingly, White went on the attack against Hoberman (who he blamed for the Gawker piece because it was written by the husband of his editor at the Voice) and Entertainment Weekly‘s Lisa Schwarzbaum (who wrote her own piece about the awards, in which she called White an “ungracious spokesman” for the NYFCC). Here are just a few of White’s accusations against Hoberman and Schwarzbaum:

-They are motivated by “racism…they pretend to be hip and ladylike, but they’re simply the type of class oppressors unique to the bourgeoisie.”

-“They’re shills: uninterested in free expression or different points of view. Their lives are committed to promoting Hollywood and controlling culture and criticism.”

-Their “lies” “embarrass the entire practice of film criticism.”

My favorite moment, though, is when White calls Hoberman a “real despot” who “makes Internet hoards bend the truth” to “follow his telepathic command.” As a former student of Hoberman’s, I’d like to take issue with that statement, or at least point out that telepathy does not exist outside the realm of science-fiction. But Hoberman is telepathically ordering me not to, so I’ll keep my mouth shut.

Hoberman responded with a defense of his own. The Gawker story didn’t come from him, he insists, though he does admit to speaking with its author about the event. And he didn’t have any thoughts on Bening’s alleged eye-watering either, because “the chairman had consigned me, along with several other members of the NYFCC he regards as enemies, to the worst seats in the house.”

Obviously I have a fondness (or an unbreakable psychokinetic bond) with Hoberman, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. But I do find it a wee bit hypocritical for White to get upset with his peers for turning the NYFCC dinner into “after-the-fact mudslinging” and then spend 1700 words engaging in after-the-fact mudslinging. But, of course, White is nothing if not a man of head-scratching contradictions. This is the guy who spends week after week railing against the shallowness of modern Hollywood and video game’s pernicious influence on filmmaking then praise “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” the ultimate encapsulation of everything that is wrong with the shallowness of modern Hollywood and video game’s pernicious influence on filmmaking. But I guess that’s what I love about Armond. He’s always right, even when he’s proving himself wrong.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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