Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Critiquing Our Critic

We here at Armond Dangerous aren't big on lists. This isn't an ice skating competition, it's art, and the ranking of expressive aesthetic works just doesn't do justice to their complexities as cultural products and creative statements. In that regard we're casting a wary eye on Time Out New York's "Critiquing The Critics" article, yet another serendipitous signal for the start of our blog but ultimately an unsatisfying exercise in cinematic simplification. Sure, we agree with some of the the panelists' collective decisions, especially in placing Village Voice hero J. Hoberman in the top slot, although others are downright loony (cinephobic Anthony Lane at number four!?!?!), but our main gripe is with the perfunctory format -- ratings instead of analysis, one-line, unattributed quotes instead of an illuminating dialogue about the possibilities and responsibilities of criticism. Armond White hit at number thirteen out of fifteen, but there's little constructive criticism in this placing. What makes him better than the unforgivable Rex Reed but worse than bland Stephen Holden? Time Out provides little insight into our man (at least Mark Asch's short critique of AW in the L gives one something to chew on), only reaffirming Armond Dangerous' commitment to actual in depth criticism. Of our critic.


Mark Asch said...

This is way after the fact, but I just followed the IFC News link over here and am wildly impressed with your work. And I'm flattered to be mentioned, even if my own brief and deliberately simplistic takedown doesn't begin to get at the guy at the same fascinating depth as you're doing.

Marxo Grouch said...

Even more after the fact, and possibly futile given your lack of updates since earlier this year (a shame, as White has only gotten more insufferable, hypocritical, etc., in recent reviews), but I had to ask, somewhat off the point, as to why you would characterize Anthony Lane as 'cinephobic.' Unless I'm misunderstanding your point, I have to say that I've never read anything to indicate that he doesn't love film with the love of a true devotee. Add to that his vast knowledge and frequent humor and Lane has become one of the only critics whose work I will read even when I don't have any particular interest in the subject.

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