Thursday, February 19, 2009

Does this man hate even more movies than me?

New York magazine has a nice profile of New York Press film critic, Armond White -- the one person in the country who hates more movies than I do.

I actually think White is too harsh most of the time. He has taken down some great movies over the years. Moreover, I find his love of Steven Spielberg more than a little puzzling. (Not that I haven't loved some of Spielberg's movies over the years. And White's favorite -- Close Encounters -- is a legitimately terrific movie. I just don't know if he's that great.)

But it's difficult not to think that White is sometimes the only film critic who makes any sense.

And I think part of the reason is the fact that he's politically unmotivated. (Or, he hasn't been seduced by the left. Which, as a liberal Democrat, I think is a good thing.)

When White says that movies like "Clockers" (Spike Lee); "Bowling for Columbine" (Michael Moore) and "Milk" are pieces of shit, he's almost always right. And there's something extremely refreshing about hearing it. Who says that movies have to be political litmus tests? They should be art.

And there's also something really refreshing about his insistence on not giving a pass to mediocre movies. For example, I thought "The Dark Knight" wasn't bad. In fact, I sort of liked it. But I would have to agree it had major flaws.

Why shouldn't those flaws be pointed out? Why should we accept so much of the crap that makes its way through the studio system? And, the truth is, whatever small rays of light a movie like "The Dark Knight" has, these bright spots usually fail to compensate us for the general level of gloom in movies today. We're not talking about legitimately flawed movies like, say, "Goodfellas" -- which might have been a failure as a work of art as a whole, but also has some of the best footage ever shot in any movie ever. We're talking about trash that has fleeting moments of non-trashiness.

How did we fall so far? Armond White wants to know!