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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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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

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

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.