Friday, April 25, 2008

Armond White Speaking Truth to the Powers That Be

Armond White quickly became one of my favorite modern film critics when I first discovered his writings. His highly informed (this guy knows classic cinema as well as any major critic), hard-hitting style is one of kind, and while I certainly don't always agree with him, I always appreciate his perspective. (This review of Gone Baby Gone is emblematic of his approach to film writing-- I was going to write a review of that piece of crap until I read it, and then it just didn't seem worth the effort.) White is frequently criticized by other reviewers, and very often with good reason, but as much as I would like to be able to write him off as verbose or snobbish, there is always something new and thought-provoking in every one of his reviews, and that keeps me coming back to his writing.

As part of the NY Press' 20th anniversary issue, they've printed this article by White entitled "What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Movies." It's one of the best essays on the state of film and film culture that I've ever read. His basic argument is that critics today don't relate their discussion of film to political, social, and moral issues, and that they champion pretentious dreck over more honest, humane works. While he doesn't do himself any favors by using War of The Worlds as an example of the latter (like I said, I don't always agree with him), his overall point still shines through.

But White doesn't confine himself to the mainstream media. He also strikes out at the online film community, which he describes as "an opinionated throng, united in their sarcasm and intense pretense at intellectualizing what is basically a hobby." As much as I'd like to dispute that...I have to say he's more or less right.

Do yourself a favor and take the time to read this article. This guy's not just a film critic, he's a social critic.

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