Critic Armond White in “Greenberg” screening drama
Can we all catch our collective breath now?
As if the world of film criticism isn’t in enough turmoil (Variety fired its veteran film critic Todd McCarthy this week), now comes word that New York-based critic Armond White was banned–and then reinstated–from attending an early press screening of director Noah Baumbach’s new Focus Features’ film, “Greenberg.”
White told the New York Press’s Jerry Portwood, “I was told this rescinded invite was ordered by director Noah Baumbach, producer Scott Rudin and their publicist [Leslee Dart].They objected to my previous reviews of ‘The Squid and the Whale’ and ‘Margot at the Wedding.'”
Dart, the head honcho at 42 West, explained to the Village Voice’s Michael Musto: “He was not banned from screenings. He will see the movie. He has RSVPd for Friday afternoon. I made a decision, not the filmmaker, that based on the horrible comments he’s made about Noah personally–like how his mother should have had an abortion and how he’s never met him, but he’s an asshole–I made a decision that he shouldn’t be one of the first critics to see the film.”
Studios and filmmakers can be notoriously thin-skinned when critics slam their films. Years ago, Rod Lurie, who is now a film director himself, described actor Danny DeVito in a review as “a testicle with arms” and was banned from press screenings by Warner Bros.
This dispute may have its roots in White’s professional relationship with Baumbach’s mother, Georgia Brown. As recounted by Vadim Rizov at The Independent Eye, Brown was a Village Voice film critic back in the ’80s and she and White never got along. White, Rizov said, once accused Brown of racism on “The Leonard Lopate Show” with “Brown demanding proof of said racism and White responding that it wasn’t his job to tell her about her sins.”
One thing we can all now agree on: a little controversy never hurts small movies or film critics. Now everyone will be waiting to read White’s review of “Greenberg” and if he slams the film, Baumbach can always say the critic has it in for him.