An essay about revisiting Paul Thomas Anderson's "Punch Drunk Love," as excerpted from the online magazine Bright Wall/Dark Room.
Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie in Cannes.
Postcard #1 Her new movie struck close to home for Angelina Jolie, visiting Cannes in an advanced stage of pregnancy. "Changeling" is based on the true story of a Los Angeles mother whose son disappears in 1928. Months later a young boy found in DeKalb, Illinois is returned as her son by the LAPD, which needs good press at a time of corruption. Problem is, she insists it's not her son, but the cops pressure her to raise the boy as her own. When she refuses, they have her held against her will. She and Brad Pitt were toasted by her director, Clint Eastwood, at a late-night dinner Tuesday at the beachfront Hotel Martinez, where Jolie said that being a mother "makes the film more personal, because I cannot imagine a mother not being trusted to know her own child."
The Pale Man knows how to do The Contrarian. He sits motionless until an external stimulus prompts him into motion.
There's a brand new dance That's easy to do It's called the Contrarian And it's all about you!
Strike a hipster pose And admire your reflection Just be sure you're facing In an opposite direction!
(apologies to Rufus Thomas)
Is Armond White too easy a target? Does any other movie critic have a blog devoted to "parsing the confounding film criticism" he produces? (See the hilariously titled Armond Dangerous.)
At the risk of sounding contrarian, I want to suggest that White (published on the web via the weekly New York Press) is by no means the worst movie reviewer in the United States. He just pretends to be the baddest.
The all-too-common White review is a reactionary tirade that owes a lot to the angry shtick of aging hipster comedians like Dennis Leary and Dennis Miller back in the 1990s ("hipster" being White's favorite term of disapprobation). White can also be funny, but I wish he thought so, too -- and that his humor arose from his observations about movies rather than his hysterical indignation.
In this sense, White doesn't necessarily practice film criticism, although what he writes is almost always based on his real or imagined characterization of what other critics have already written. The movie itself sometimes gets lost in White's internal monologue as he rages against some chimerical critical consensus.
In the Bizarro World, Armond White is Jeffrey Lyons. He's the negative campaigner's blurbmeister. Just substitute disses for superlatives and you'll find a similar (anti-)promotional blurb mentality at work. This is the most elementary form of so-called "criticism" -- purely heirarchical rather than analytical or exploratory. It's not even "This is why I prefer this to that"; it's just "This is better than that because I choose to say so."
View image: Borat in New York, a town locate on the eastern coast of United States and America.
In their reviews of "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" Anthony Lane of The New Yorker and Armond White of the New York Press make it clear they are not amused. Mostly because they think the movie is about something I woudn't think was funny, either, if I thought that's what the movie was about.
To Lane, Sacha Baron Cohen is a guy who "adopts fictional personae and then marches briskly into the real world with a mission to embarrass its inhabitants." That may be "Punk'd" (or "Candid Camera") but that's the least of what's going on in "Borat," which presents these improvisations in a fictional narrative context that give them meaning (and, consequently, humor). To White, "Borat" is "anti-American propaganda," that "primarily consists of genital humor, scatological humor and jokes about deformity and mental retardation" -- while any praise of the film is "a bit seditious" and amounts to "evil criticism." OK, that movie doesn't sound funny to me, either. But that movie is nine shots of Armond White with just a splash of Borat Sagdiyev.
Lane is baffled by "Borat." White goes off on a comically crude and incoherent rant against Madonna, Andy Kaufman, Neil LaBute, Madonna (again), 9/11, George W. Bush, Michael Moore, Emir Kusturica, the "angry Left’s vicious temerity" and the "self-loathing" of "Borat’s ass-kissing film critics." Yes, in White's six-paragraph review he spews more bilious imagery -- "pits," "sewer gas," "flatulent," "odious," "evil," "stench," "Ethnic-Cleansing" -- than the feature film he's accusing of low blows. (And for some people, inexplicably, everything will always be about Madonna.)
CANNES, France -- Emir Kusturica, the jolly Serbian who headed this year's Cannes jury, stayed up late Saturday night at the beach party after the awards. He loved the fireworks, the Fellini music, and his new green shirt. He also sang with the band, as Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz danced "very savagely," he said, with, of all people, the festival president, Thierry Fremont. "Many girls told me they loved the green shirt," he said Sunday afternoon, as he joined the eight other jury members in their annual press conference.
CANNES, France — Tommy Lee Jones walked away from the 58th Cannes Film Festival here Saturday night as a double winner, after his film “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” won him the award as best actor, and the screenplay by Guillermo Arriaga also was honored. The movie stars Jones as a Texas cowboy who kidnaps the border patrolman (Barry Pepper) who has murdered his Mexican friend and forces him on a long journey to rebury the corpse in the man's hometown.
CANNES, France – If you’re going to make a movie about a rock star who drifts into drugged oblivion and death, you basically have two choices. You could make one of those lurid biopics filled with flashbacks to a tortured childhood and lots of concert scenes and sex, while the star savors success before it destroys him.
CANNES, France -- There are two species of journalists at Cannes, described by the festival as critics or chroniclers. The critics review the films. The chroniclers write the gossip, review the fashions, attend the press conferences and pray for scandal. One year, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren (remember them?) got in a pushing match on the steps of the Palais, and the chroniclers dined out for a week. The critics, however, savor moments of quieter savagery, as when Dogma founder Lars von Trier didn't win the top prize from a jury headed by Roman Polanski, and accepted his lesser award ''with no thanks to the midget.''