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DID YOU READ

White vs. Brown; or why Armond would be banned from reviewing “Greenberg.”

White vs. Brown; or why Armond would be banned from reviewing “Greenberg.” (photo)

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If there were a Gawker-type site for film critic gossip, the only thing that would keep it from being horrifically dull would be the antics of the NY Press‘ splenetically quotable Armond White, who always seems to be ruffling feathers. The last time we checked in on Mr. White, he was trolling “District 9” lovers. This new story, though, is more interesting than the usual Armond vs. Rotten Tomatoes sparring. There’s a history.

White’s reportedly been banned from attending all press screenings of “Greenberg” by the personal fiat of writer/director Noah Baumbach and producer Scott Rudin. I was among those who got an email from the pseudonymous “John Doe,” who had some very nasty things to say about the matter.

“Some of you may think that Armond is a pretentious pompous fool who has no idea what he’s talking about, but he is still a fellow film critic,” the email notes. “Publicists are akin to Nazis.” (The analogy is extended: apparently in this scenario we’re Armenians caught in a genocide.) It suggests that “Greenberg” not be reviewed, Focus Features president James Schamus be emailed (Now I have his email address! Sorry, sir.) and Scott Rudin’s work be review blacklisted. “Hail the First Amendment. Fuck the talentless hacks” is the sign-off.

I’m sure that for most publicists, not having to screen any of their movies for review and instead forcing everyone to do fawning “star profiles” and interviews would be a dream come true, so I wonder how a review blacklist would work. But for those of you who don’t care about the rabbit-hole politics of this kind of thing (that should be everyone, really), there’s a more interesting extended history of animosity here.

Back in the ’80s, Noah Baumbach’s mother Georgia Brown was a Village Voice film critic; she and White never got along, culminating — among, I assume, other minor skirmishes lost to history — with an ugly appearance on “The Leonard Lopate Show” in which White accused Brown of racism, Brown demanding proof of said racism, and White responding that it wasn’t his job to tell her about her sins.

03092010_margot.jpgThe sins of the mother, though, have been passed down to Baumbach’s films — White’s reviews of them aren’t analyses so much as pure character assassination. Regarding “The Squid And The Whale,” he wrote that the film “inadvertently reveals how smugness gets transmitted from the dinner table to the pages of the New Yorker.” Then he accused New York reviewers of falling for the “film and literary references” and admiring “snide and obtuse behavior.” The headline of his “Margot At The Wedding” piece is “Self-Punishment,” the review itself little more than raving — the movies are “repellent” both in their visuals and personalities (“New York’s most obnoxious people”).

The subtext, as always, is White’s history with Brown — briefly but impersonally alluded to in the “Squid” write-up as “an undistinguished film critic but a former Voice employee,” which is about as inside-baseball and, uh, obnoxiously New Yorker-y as you could get. It’s safe to say more people care about “The Squid And The Whale” than a 20-year-old New York film critic feud, much less whether or not movies are apparently solely made for a NYC elitist circle jerk. For good measure, in an interview he declared that Baumbach (sight unseen!) is obviously an “asshole,” which he can tell from his work. (“I don’t need to meet him to know that. Better than meeting him, I’ve seen his movies.” I can tell you right now, this is nonsense.)

So Baumbach and Rudin have barred him from seeing “Greenberg.” Normally, I’d be up in arms, but for these three point. Normally, writing those kinds of things gets you close to a restraining order. Given this past history, it’s not unlikely that White’s review wasn’t pre-composed, with arguments waiting to be fleshed out with new examples. And, frankly, this is a major conflict of interest — it’s not hard to figure out that the anger White has at Baumbach’s mother has trickled down to his films. There’s no way he should’ve reviewed any of those movies.

For once: the publicists are right. Though I wish they’d invited me. I actually like Baumbach. Oh well.

[Photos: “Greenberg,” Focus Features, 2010; “Margot At The Wedding,” Paramount Vantage, 2007]

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…