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ranters and ravers

Armond White’s Greenberg Review: As Epic As You’d Hoped

Get excited, Armond White fans! The New York Press critic gives us more than our money's worth today in a much-anticipated review of Noah Baumbach's Greenberg that also takes aim at 42West publicist Leslee Dart (who rescinded White's invitation to a screening of the movie last week) and the Village Voice's J. Hoberman, who last Wednesday dug up the 1998 review of Baumbach's Mr. Jealousy, which contained a slightly impenetrable kicker that some have suggested implies White wishes the filmmaker's mother had aborted him. Obviously you'll want to read the whole thing immediately, but a few highlights are after the jump. (Also, New York's David Edelstein weighs in at the Projectionist.)

Here, White explains his Mr. Jealousy "abortion quip" while taking a swipe at Baumbach's mom, the late former Voice critic Georgia Brown:


The last line is not Oscar Wilde but it’s also not a death warrant; its impact is in your inference. It clearly points out the clubhouse aspect of Baumbach’s raves, then contrasts natal congratulations with their demurral. No more than that. The abortion quip is easily understood unless your goal is to besmirch another critic and wage a personal attack ... By resurrecting the corpse of Georgia Brown’s undistinguished, forgotten movie-reviewing career — defending his former underling and buddy — Hoberman once again found an underhanded way of praising himself.

He's only getting warmed up on Hoberman, though:


Hoberman’s film culture dominance exemplifies the nepotism and personal favors that rule the critical network in New York, if not across the country. Like some nefarious, shadowy dictator in a Fritz Lang silent, Hoberman’s influence (as NYU instructor to the Times’ Manohla Dargis and innumerable Internet clones) stretches from coast to coast, institution to institution. He’s the scoundrel-czar of contemporary film criticism.

Additionally, Hoberman is a fascist Communist traitor:


As Chairman of the New York Film Critics Circle, I must rise above it. Hoberman’s despotic behavior blurs the line between criticism and gossip — as when disparaging Kael, relentlessly attacking Spielberg for opposing his own ethnic shibboleths or more recently giving traitorous praise to the movie Green Zone for encouraging insurrection in the American military. The pile-on and redaction by his acolytes concerning “L’Affaire Greenberg” (per Salon.com) is exactly what Communist cells do to anyone they disfavor. Hoberman and his (Georgia) brown shirts want to maintain the status quo. This is how fascists operate, attempting to besmirch opponents and write them out of history.

Continued:


It’s unfortunate to have to point out that it is also a racist lynching by white critics of a black critic. Fact: Year after year, Hoberman never even deigns to review movies with black subjects, and he passes this racist contempt on to his epigones. That’s hegemony. He’s also a force behind racist snobbery in the film festival circuit (which led to such cultural disasters as Precious, a New York Film Festival “Centerpiece Event” and critical favorite). To the unbiased, I am known as a critic who speaks truth to power; it will test our film culture’s commitment to democracy if I suffer reprisals for the freedom of speech expressed in this article.

And what about Leslee Dart? How does she defend her revocation of White's RSVP? White explains:


She defends her ban decision by referring to illegitimate, unauthorized blog items, that I allegedly impugned Baumbach as “an asshole” ...

Earlier: Relax, Everybody! Armond White Will Get to See Greenberg


Dart’s objection to the perfectly apt “asshole” as a Baumbach description is laughable.

So what of Greenberg, the movie behind this whole fiasco? White calls it "the least enjoyable film of Ben Stiller's career," but "a mite less obnoxious than Baumbach's other films." Which is basically a rave, all things considered.

My Greenberg Problem—and Yours [New York Press]
White vs. Hoberman: My Take [Projectionist]

Earlier: Relax, Everybody! Armond White Will Get to See Greenberg

Photo: Nigel Perry