This week, David Chen, Devindra Hardawar, and Adam Quigley delve into the mysteries of Christopher Nolan’s Inception. Special guest Armond White joins us from New York Press.
You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Stay tuned to the /Filmcast and to /Film this week for great coverage of Comic-Con!
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New York Press film critic Armond White is well-known for his contrarian reviews (for example, panning Toy Story 3 for celebrating consumerism while praising Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen for its visual style). In the past, many have despised White for souring the Rotten Tomatoes scores of films that they love. After reading his reviews, I was filled less with disgust and more with fascination and curiosity. White was not a fool that just spouted off mindless hate; he’s previously been a film professor, and was twice the chairman of the New York Film Critics Circle. But that didn’t change the fact that his views on many films ran directly and consistently counter to popular perceptions. Did the man really believe what he wrote? Or were his reviews cynically calculated to draw the most ire, and by extension, the most page views?
Sure, I could speculate endlessly on whether White was purposefully trying to be a troll, but without being able to speak with him directly, without being able to parse his points, that’s all it would ever be: speculation. I wanted some definitive answers from the horse’s mouth, so I could know where I stood in regards to the man’s writing. That’s why I was really grateful that White agreed to speak with us on the /Film podcast last night.
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When the Rotten Tomatoes twitter account announced that Toy Story 3 still had a 100% fresh rating with over 130 reviews and counting, I got excited. I’ve seen the movie twice now, and it deserves all the praise it has and will recieve. The reason I got excited is that it had the chance to become the best reviewed movie in the history of cinema (this according to Rotten Tomatoes of course, albeit still a milestone achievement).
I’m not going to debate the merits of the achievement — best reviewed film of all time doesn’t mean best movie of all time. Also, as we know Rotten Tomatoes is not based on a scale of enjoyment, just thumbs up or down. Meaning, the best reviewed film of all time on Rotten Tomatoes means the largest percentage of possitive reviews.
With 147 100% positive reviews, Toy Story 2 has held the coveted top slot for eleven years and counting. The film to come closest was the 2008 documentary Man On Wire — 100% fresh with 142 reviews, six short of the #1 slot. And how fitting would it have been to have the Pixar’s latest film, the third film in the trilogy, knock Toy Story 2 from the top of the mountain.
What happened? You guessed it. Armond White — the notorious contrarian movie reviewer for the alt-weekly New York Press. You might recall that White was the first critic to give Pixar’s last film Up a negative review. Whats worse, he gave Jonah Hex a positive review, a film which has been panned by critics and moviegoers (12% on Rotten Tomatoes with almost 90 reviews).
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For the last couple years, Pixar has held the title of having the best reviewed mainstream movie release of the year. Ratatouille and WALL-E both ended with 96% with over 200 reviews (only 9 rotten). Two days before the nationwide release, Pixar’s Up is riding high with a perfect 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes with over 40 reviews.
But of course, someone is always bound to come along with a contrarian view. New York critic Armond White has filed the first negative Up review (it hasn’t been officially added into the Tomatoemeter rating just yet).
White is known for having an differing viewpoint than traditional critics. He wrote one of the 5 negative reviews of Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler and one of the four negative reviews of The Class. His list also includes unfavorable thumbs downs for Star Trek, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, The Dark Knight, Gone Baby Gone, Iron Man, There Will Be Blood, and Zodiac. Did I mention that he gave Bedtime Stories a positive review?
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