Saturday, January 07, 2006

Armond White names 'Munich,' 'War of the Worlds' Best Films Of 2005

The New York Press recently published Armond White's list of his ten favorite films of 2005. It's been a while since we've posted on White's film criticism, so if you haven't read our thoughts on him previously, just know that we frequently thrill to his entirely expected contrarian judgments and the nearly inexplicable justifications that follow. Here's the list.

(1) Munich
(2) War of the Worlds
(3) 2046
(4) Kung Fu Hustle
(5) My Mother's Smile
(6) Good Morning Night
(7) Nine Lives
(8) Garcon Stupide
(9) In My Country
(10) Best of Youth

There's really nothing about this list to rant about (save the omission of "Sam Fuller film from beyond" Unleashed). So he still loves Spielberg! People do! Some people here do! The thing that's so much fun is not the list itself, but the reasons he gives for choosing them, particularly the Spielberg pair at the top. Says White,
"Munich’s moral scrutiny of recent history and War’s Expressionist vision of contemporary fear would each have been the best film of any year. Together, they are an astonishing demonstration of cinematic range—the seriousness of high art, the common touch of folk-pop plus the undeniability of global relevance."
Whether or not I agree that either could qualify as a year's best film, I can't really argue with his thinking here. The thing is, this lucid assessment is preceded by this:
"Spielberg’s jackpot year recalls Jean-Luc Godard’s 1968 U.S. release of both La Chinoise and Weekend. It’s a handy comparison since Spielberg also paralleled a political drama with an apocalyptic fantasy. The last time an American director had two films of comparable magnitude in the same year was 1944—Preston Sturges’ The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek and Hail the Conquering Hero. This makes a handy comparison because Spielberg, who works in the same popular Hollywood idiom as Sturges, also exemplifies its highest expression."
Whether we're willing to accept his linking War of the Worlds to Weekend for their mutual taste for "apocalyptic fantasy," Munich quite simply has nothing to do with La Chinoise, and bringing the matter up implies that White sees a comparison. The idea that a major, respected film critic in the biggest market in the world can basically say, "It's like Godard's '68 one-two punch" for little more reason than the fact that the Beard released two movies this year, one (ohmigod!) involving chaos and destruction, is pretty much bullshit. For one thing, we've barely had time to forget that 2002 brought us Minority Report and Catch Me if You Can. And don't even get me started on that Sturges comparison!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gosh, what a salivating Spielberg fan boy Armond is. His reviews are consistently intellectually retarded.

6:09 AM  

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