Armond White Appreciation Thread

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Widely regarded by many as the greatest film critic of all time, Armond White rose the superstardom when he gave The Social Network an astonishingly negative review the same week he praised Zack Snyder's animated movie Owls of Ga'Hoole.


"Snyder's wildlife adventure returns him to genius: extreme, dream-like action cinema that expresses his pop-art faith."

But this wouldn't be the first time White opened the public's highly critical minds to films that were completely dismissed by all other professional movie critics. Who can forget the time when Armond white did this ?



"Cheerful and surprisingly heartfelt."

Clash of the Titans


"Leterrier certainly shows a better sense of meaningful, economic narrative than the mess that Peter Jackson made of the interminable, incoherent Lord of the Rings trilogy."



"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is more proof [Bay] has a great eye for scale and a gift for visceral amazement."



"Unlike Nicholson’s multileveled characterization, Ledger reduces The Joker to one-note ham-acting and trite symbolism. If you fell for the evil-versus-evil antagonism of There Will Be Blood, then The Dark Knight should be the movie of your wretched dreams."




"it’s essentially a bored game that only the brainwashed will buy into. Besides, Transformers 2 already explored the same plot to greater thrill and opulence"


White was later kicked out of the New York Film Critics Circle because he kept heckling directors at awards ceremonies. His reviews are no longer posted onto rottentomatoes.com .
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Here are some of his rantings from /film podcast if anyone is interested. After wondering if this guy was serious for about the first five minutes the first time I ever heard him, I quickly realized he was just trolling. You know like Sexy Celebrity on Movie Forums.

White on Django

White on 12 Years a Slave
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Armond White is a baffling case. He's a legit critic. He has the history and the knowledge and (at one point) maybe even the taste to have been one that matters. But then he slipped into some kind of contrary mindset which is completely indistinguishable from a troll. His critical reasoning seemed to be being beamed in from outerspace. He became a completely negative force. My assumption is, without being snide, traces of some kind of mental illness or such a level of grievances against what he saw as the political forces driving Hollywood that it would probably still qualify as some kind of chemical imbalance.


But even at his absolute worst and most trollish and patronizing and politically damaged, I think I'd probably prefer to read White than at least 80 percent of critics writing for established websites/newspapers/magazines. You can't trust his opinions, his taste or even his honesty, but he's at least a compellingly infuriating weirdo.



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But even at his absolute worst and most trollish and patronizing and politically damaged, I think I'd probably prefer to read White than at least 80 percent of critics writing for established websites/newspapers/magazines. You can't trust his opinions, his taste or even his honesty, but he's at least a compellingly infuriating weirdo.
Second this!



I've listened to about 20 minutes of his Django talk on that podcast, and as a very big fan of Tarantino, and in particular that film which I would probably put in his top 4 (and I like all of them), he makes completely fair points in articulating his hate of it. Tarantino's approach to what slavery in America was is juvenile. He does consistently peddle cruelty and sadism. He isn't a terribly humanist director. He does use human tragedy to create spectacle. I think there are rebuffs to all of White's problems with the film, but I don't think you can just dismiss these criticisms out of hand.



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Here's a White write-up which should make it clear he is, by any estimation, a legit critic. Taking on the dubious hysteria that surrounded Samuel Fuller's "White Dog", he writes what is probably one of the better and well considered analysis of the film and what it represented to Hollywood.



White Dog



never liked the guy but i can acknowledge the value in his old writings on folks like spielberg, godard, etc.. however, his national review stuff from the past ~6 years or so has been less than worthless as both film criticism and cultural commentary. following the Not Armond White account on letterboxd has been pretty illuminating for realizing just how much of his stuff is bullshit
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never liked the guy but i can acknowledge the value in his old writings on folks like spielberg, godard, etc.. however, his national review stuff from the past ~6 years or so has been less than worthless as both film criticism and cultural commentary. following the Not Armond White account on letterboxd has been pretty illuminating for realizing just how much of his stuff is bullshit
I was going to wonder out loud here on the forums about how people's opinions might have changed on the guy since he has drifted more to to the right, or perhaps it's more accurate to say he has dug his heels in and refused to be dragged farther left? I guess the above post answers my question for at least one MoFo!

I say this as someone who has his heels firmly dug in, btw, with perhaps a slow drift rightward, as well...



I think his reputation as a troll was established before his writing for the National Review.



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I think his reputation as a troll was established before his writing for the National Review.
The first time I recall his getting discussed on this board, with a few people calling him a troll, was around the time of his review for The Dark Knight...



I was going to wonder out loud here on the forums about how people's opinions might have changed on the guy since he has drifted more to to the right, or perhaps it's more accurate to say he has dug his heels in and refused to be dragged farther left? I guess the above post answers my question for at least one MoFo!

I say this as someone who has his heels firmly dug in, btw, with perhaps a slow drift rightward, as well...

I don't think it is ever good when politics, whether right wing or left, completely obscure our ability to see what a movie is attempting to do. And White definitely does this at times. And, in fairness, so do many clearly left wing critics.



That's not to say we should completely obliterate politics from how we see things. Because that would also be an impossibility. And I also don't think we should dodge entwining or own personhood and values in how we respond to a film. It has to be there to some degree because, otherwise, why even talk and argue about art at all. Criticisms should help us hammer things out towards some kind of eventual empathy towards other sides. Even those that can sometimes seem completely foreign or even outright wrong to us.


White can have a voice in this matter. But, in regards to his outlier status in the critical community these days, if we are being completely honest he's done more than enough things for people to have distrust in him. It's very hard to accept some of his opinions as truly genuine, and not a soapbox for adjacent topics, when a lot of his actual reasoning in his worst reviews can completely fall apart under any scrutiny. But....that also shouldn't erase the moments where he clearly has something to say. Which he definitely sometimes does. And he is also vastly more knowledgeable and intelligent than a good majority of working film critics these days. Which should count for....something.



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That's not to say we should completely obliterate politics from how we see things. Because that would also be an impossibility. And I also don't think we should dodge entwining or own personhood and values in how we respond to a film. It has to be there to some degree because, otherwise, why even talk and argue about art at all. Criticisms should help us hammer things out towards some kind of eventual empathy towards other sides. Even those that can sometimes seem completely foreign or even outright wrong to us.
Perhaps the most crucially important approach to discourse these days, or close to it. I do see more people at least attempting to do this these days, at least in the smallish circles I tend to socialize in, and that goes for people all across the political spectrum. There is hope!



He was often the spoiler that caused popular films to lose their 100% Tomatometers. I don't frequent RT any more, but back when I did it was VERY important to Pixar fans that every movie get a 100 and his review was often the first to knock them down to 99. I wonder if people still feel that passionately about the Tomatometer. But yeah, I remember folks lobbying to get him off RT so that their favorite film could be back to 100, as if that matters.

(and it wasn't just Pixar fans. Nolan's gang was very sensitive also. There were others. I always found it a weird thing.)

EDIT: the point of this post is that I think that's where a lot of the vitriol came from. Every movie in history has been liked and disliked and we all lived with this understanding, but the Tomatometer assigned a number to that, so folks could point to one guy and say "He ruined it!" That's why he was hated, in my opinion. Otherwise, who would care?
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He was often the spoiler that caused popular films to lose their 100% Tomatometers. I don't frequent RT any more, but back when I did it was VERY important to Pixar fans that every movie get a 100 and his review was often the first to knock them down to 99. I wonder if people still feel that passionately about the Tomatometer. But yeah, I remember folks lobbying to get him off RT so that their favorite film could be back to 100, as if that matters.

(and it wasn't just Pixar fans. Nolan's gang was very sensitive also. There were others. I always found it a weird thing.)

EDIT: the point of this post is that I think that's where a lot of the vitriol came from. Every movie in history has been liked and disliked and we all lived with this understanding, but the Tomatometer assigned a number to that, so folks could point to one guy and say "He ruined it!" That's why he was hated, in my opinion. Otherwise, who would care?

Totally forgot about this. And, yeah, this kind of petty stupidity was definitely one of the things that instigated the notoriety and hatred towards him. Maybe the main thing, initially.