Still Cranky (After All These Years)

Armond White is the crankiest film critic this side of Ray Carney, and God bless him for it. In this week’s piece for the New York Press, “Entertainment, Weakly,” he rips into Ron Howard’s latest, The Missing, along with the glossy magazines that would promote it as pop art. I especially enjoyed White’s take on Entertainment Weekly‘s recent feature, “50 Greatest Tear-jerkers”:

In pop culture there are few sights more maddening than seeing a great work of art stripped of its human essence. EW treats Sounder as if it were Disney’s Old Yeller — a blunder that exposes the magazine’s approach to pop as affluent kiddie fodder. When cultural journalism was healthier, critics proudly sought evidence of profundity and depth. Sounder was produced in an era when American filmmakers and audiences valued a critique of social conditions and admired signs of human endeavor every bit as much as the Italian Neorealists had. Today, that respect is reserved for Iranian movies. EW’s insistence on further reducing movies to a marketable commodity only recommends the shallowest audience response.

White doesn’t allow his fellow critics off the hook, either. After calling A Beautiful Mind “the most ridiculous film ever to win a Best Picture Oscar (turning a real-life story of psychosis into an action-adventure/love story),” he then blames its win not on that most scarred of whipping-boys — the Academy itself — but on his colleagues, who failed to fulfill their most noble function:

Critics didn’t properly lambaste it, subsequently accepting the ludicrous, sentimental premise as entertainment. That meant Howard got to work his bad magic once again.

I don’t read White for his reviews, I read him for his attitude, and I wish there were more out there like him.