May 19, 2005
Via the IFC Blog: Armond White slams David Denby for his glowing review of Paul Haggis' LA race fable, Crash. I know I've disagreed with White in the past, but I'm glad he's calling Denby out on this one. White's take on the film:
These guardians of the status quo—Haggis among them—avoid admitting, confessing, realizing the real ways that social authority (whether legally held by the rich or criminally asserted by the poor) is used to the advantage of some people and against others.I'm beginning to think that my original review was far too generous.
Posted by chuck at May 19, 2005 12:18 PM
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Damn, Armond White sure knows how to pose a polemic!
He has very unconventional taste (I believe his favorite filmmaker -- avant-garde or popular -- is Steven Spielberg). He lavishes praise on strange artifacts, including the occasional music video. And he has a toothy, erudite prose style that lends itself well to this sort of argument.
White (who is, it should be noted, African American) also has a track record of being tough on Hollywood representations of race and racism. But I would want to ask him: if he hated "Crash" but likes Todd Solondz, what does he think of the opening segment of "Storytelling," which has one of the nastiest racial caricatures I've ever seen on screen?
Posted by: Amardeep at May 20, 2005 9:30 AM
White's certainly a contrarian when it comes to film reviews. I think I'd heard that Speilberg was his favorite filmmaker, which may explain why I'd disagreed with him in the past (though I can't find any evidence of it on my blog).
He was certainly among the more interesting interviewees in Baadassss Cinema, the documentary I mentioned in the previous entry, if only because he provides an interesting counterpoint to Elvis Mitchell.
I'd have to ask the same question about his appreciation of Solondz, especially the scene in Storytelling, though I find Solondz almost intolerably snobbish and narcissistic in general (for this reason I decided not to see Palindromes until it comes out on video, if at all).
Posted by: Chuck at May 20, 2005 12:05 PM
In the review you linked to Chuck, White mentions Storytelling as one of a number of movies he thinks attack race more bravely & honestly than Crash. It's a pretty odd list.
Armond White is a very clever critic, I think - his writeup of The Last Days of Disco reads that movie as on some level about (discofied) whiteness and blackness, and AIDS. Hard to think of anyone else who'd have seen that.
Posted by: laura at May 21, 2005 6:21 AM
Yes, I'd initially forgotten that he listed Storytelling in that list of movies, but Smoke is an interesting choice, especially the film's final scene when you realize where Harvey Kietel's character gets his camera.
I didn't mean to sound too dismissive. I like White's writing quite a bit, but his appreciation of Speilberg eludes me completely.
Posted by: Chuck at May 21, 2005 9:38 AM