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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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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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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.

Uncle-Buck

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…