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May 3, 2017

The Best of Armond White: (A Retrospective) Part One

Who doesn’t like a great troll? Well, I guess the people being trolled, and in a day and age of knee-jerk reactions and people triggered at the slightest comment made against something that they love and hold dear, it’s both an art and game to keep trolling at a high level.

Me, of course, can care less. I’ve always said “don’t feed the trolls” and I’m usually someone that jumps into the fray to try and burn the bridge where that troll is hiding, or I just knock on their mom’s door, head down to their basement and unplug their Ethernet cable while they try to run after me, but they can’t get out of their chair because their legs have atrophied and all the Sun Chips crumbs are weighing them down.

But one “troll” stands alone when it comes to Film Twitter and just film in general, and that master troll is Armond White.

Personally, I think White is hilarious, he knows how to get under people’s skin and create a conversation, and his points, even though most of them are ridiculous, are at times interesting and break up the constant love of things. He’s The Joker of Film Reviews, he wants to see the world burn.

This got me thinking. Why don’t we take a look back at some of his reviews in a Four-Part series. The basic premise of this series will be to look at his more infamous reviews where he either reviles a beloved film, praises a film that was universally hated on, and in those special moments in time, a film that was loved by White and the rest of the community and hated by White and the Community. Keep in mind, this series will be based on the Tomato-Meter and his reviews on RottenTomatoes.com 

In Part One, let’s take a look at some of Mr. White’s take on some of cinema’s most beloved films.


Up (2009) 98% Approval on RT 

Armond Says: All this deflated cinema and Pixarism mischaracterizes what good animation can be (as in Coraline, Monster House, Chicken Little, Teacher’s Pet, The Iron Giant). Up’s aesthetic failure stems from its emotional letdown.


Matt Says: I understand his point when it comes to alt-animation that isn’t Pixar, which can also pack an emotional punch. But there isn’t much wrong with “Up.”



Gone Baby Gone 94% Approval on RT

Armond Says: So far this year, no other movie has more risible dialogue.

Matt Says: Maybe he’s referring to the accents, because yes, people from Boston do talk funny. Maybe I need to revisit this one because he might have a point on this one.




The Wrestler (2008) 98% Approval on RT

Armond Says: Aronofsky inflicts as much pain on the audience as self-flagellating Ram Jam does when brutalizing/mutilating himself in and outside the ring.

Matt Says: As a wresting fan, especially throughout the 1990s, maybe White just doesn’t understand life inside and outside of the wrestling ring. I mean, I don’t either, but I can see how well acted and great this film is, and yes, seeing he pain of Ram Jam is important to the story, and necessary.



In the Loop (2009) 94% Approval on RT

Armond Says: Instead of inspiring geniuses, Iraq war backlash has only resulted in snarky self-righteousness that — from Charlie Wilson’s War and now British import In the Loop — has demonstrated the low ebb of modern comedy.

Matt Says: I’m sure my cohort, DJ, would have reservations about this opinion, and to a degree I do as well. The banter is genius, and Peter Capaldi’s linguistic gymnastics are great. However, I do agree with using the Iraq War as comedy can be grating and just overall dull. 




Get Out 99% Approval on RT

Armond Says: Get Out is an attenuated comedy sketch in which serious concerns are debased.

Matt Says: While I can agree that this film could be suited for an actual sketch on “Key and Peele,” that doesn’t take away that “Get Out” works on a lot of levels and rightfully makes it awkward for white people. Could you call it divisive and perpetuate the paranoia that African Americans have for white people? Absolutely, but someone had to do it.



Moonlight 98% Approval on RT

Armond Says: Moonlight’s best moments come in Little’s reaction to Juan’s affection, but later scenes of Chiron’s erotic confusion and Black’s maudlin self-pity (he wears muscular drag yet succumbs to weakness) insist that viewers feel sorry for black gay males.

Matt Says: I’m pretty sure the point to “Moonlight” wasn’t to make people feel sorry for black gay males, it was to raise awareness that these people exists, and they are in fact…people. Sure, I feel like the third act of the film might be it’s “weakest” I’m not seeing the correlation that viewers are supposed to be bad for Chiron, they are supposed to understand that other people exist in this world and to be uncomfortable getting out of their safe little bubble and small-mindedness.



The Dark Knight (2008) 94% Approval on RT

Armond Says: The generation of consumers who swallow this pessimistic sentiment can’t see past the product to its debased morality. Instead, their excitement about The Dark Knight’s dread (that teenage thrall with subversion) inspires their fealty to product.

Matt Says: My response; It’s a comic book movie, relax sir.


Come back next week folks, and we’ll try and get an understanding of why Dirty Grandpa deserves to be higher than it’s 11% RT Score.

August 5, 2012

Brave

UNWORTHY

Now, Pixar has never made a bad movie. (Ahem.)  Like I said, Pixar has rarely made a bad movie. (AHEM!)  Damn you written inner monologue!  Fine!  Pixar more times than not makes good movies.  Monster’s Inc, A Bugs Life, Finding Nemo, Toy Story Trilogy, Up, Wall-E and my personal favorite The Incredibles.  They are animated films that bring something for the kids aching to see them and also the parents forced to bring them.  They’re smart.  They’re funny.  They’re poignant.  They’re worthy entertainment.  The lastest Pixar film Brave, however, falls short of this.

Brave got a lot of attention as being the first Pixar film with a strong female lead.  This got my attention even though I didn’t see the big deal.  It isn’t like females in previous Pixar films were worthless background noise.  ElastiGirl from The Incredibles might be one of the strongest animated female characters in film history.  After seeing Brave, a very misleading title by the way, I would not place Princess Merida anywhere in Helen Parr’s league.

What if I told you a tomboyish princess, who trained to be an archer/warrior her entire life, was opposed to her prissy mother’s demands to marry her off to the suitors of rival kingdoms?  Still with me right?  Now, what if I told you her refusal to marry plunged her kingdom into war?  Awesome!   Then what if the princess and her mother are sent away by the king for their own safety?  Uh oh!  Then what if they were ambushed and attacked by men from a rival kingdom?  Oh Sh*t!  But what if the princess, escapes with her mother?  Wow!  What if the princess used every bit of the skills she’d learned from her warrior father to travel across the dangerous countryside back home?  Nice!  What if, while avoiding capture and surviving the elements, the princess proves to her mother that there are things a woman can aspire to be other than a stuffy aristocrat.  A woman can actually aspire to be “Brave”.  You’d want to see that right?  So would I.  Too bad that isn’t what this film is about.

Sure Princess Merida is being forced into marriage.  But instead of the story going the way you want it to, it changes into a silly body transformation comedy no better than that Tim Allen Shaggy Dog remake.  Don’t look forward to seeing Princess Merida using that bow in the above picture in any meaningful way.  It doesn’t make a bit of difference in this film’s story.  She could have been awesome with a boomerang or slingshot and it would not make a bit of difference in this film.  Merida is also NOT A STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER.  She is a whiny, petulant, prideful child that makes a decision that could only be described as DUMB.  At no point did I see her as brave.  The brave thing to do would be to confront the issues she had with her mother head on.  Instead, she avoids doing the brave thing pretty much for this entire movie.

Think my version of what I hoped Brave to be is too adult?  Then let me remind you that the beginning of Up centers around infertility and a subsequent psychological breakdown.  The Incredibles deals with the issues of a midlife crisis, infidelity and McCarthyism.  A Bug’s Life is literally a remake of the Magnificent Seven/Seven Samurai.  Wall-E is set during a post apocalyptic future.  And Toy Story 3….oh boy…Toy Story 3 was a few frames away from being the ballsiest allegory for mortality ever.  A Scottish female version of Rescue Dawn is not too much to ask for.

Brave also has an OVERLY PREACHY message about fate that would be lost on a child and insult the intelligence of an adult.   A message narrated to us just so they could tie it back to the, again, misleading title.  The film should be called Pride if anything.  It is the only thing I see at work in the main character.   This could have been a film that might have set an example as to how to make a movie with a strong female lead.  However, it comes across more like a medieval episode of That’s So Raven.  (Yes, I’ve seen it.  Don’t judge me.)  A film UNWORTHY to be under the Pixar banner.  I expect this from Disney Studios but not these guys.  Brave it…then tell me I’m wrong.

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