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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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.