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Compiling Armond White's Greatest (Contrarian) Hits (2007 - 2011)

By Dustin Rowles | Lists | August 24, 2011 |

By Dustin Rowles | Lists | August 24, 2011 |

Pans for Otherwise Well-Reviewed Films (Tomatometer Percentage in Parenthesis)

Toy Story 3 (99%): “Toy Story 3 is so besotted with brand names and product-placement that it stops being about the innocent pleasures of imagination — the usefulness of toys — and strictly celebrates consumerism.”

Up (98%): “All this deflated cinema and Pixarism mischaracterizes what good animation can be (as in Coraline, Monster House, Chicken Little, Teacher’s Pet, The Iron Giant). Up’s aesthetic failure stems from its emotional letdown.”

The Wrestler (98%): “Aronofsky inflicts as much pain on the audience as self-flagellating Ram Jam does when brutalizing/mutilating himself in and outside the ring.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (97%): “Now that the Harry Potter series is over, maybe the truth can be realized: This has been the dullest franchise in the history of movie franchises.”

The Social Network: (96%) “Like one of those fake-smart, middlebrow TV shows, the speciousness of The Social Network is disguised by topicality. It’s really a movie excusing Hollywood ruthlessness.”

King’s Speech: (95%): “Each scene in The King’s Speech is so poorly staged that its ineptitude sometimes borders on the avant-garde.”

The Dark Knight (94%): “The generation of consumers who swallow this pessimistic sentiment can’t see past the product to its debased morality. Instead, their excitement about The Dark Knight’s dread (that teenage thrall with subversion) inspires their fealty to product.”

Iron Man (94%): “Iron Man is a dispiriting attempt to apply superficial principles to inherently silly kid culture.”

Milk (94%): “A bizarre manipulation of the gay political impulse.”

In the Loop (94%): ” Instead of inspiring geniuses, Iraq war backlash has only resulted in snarky self-righteousness that — from Charlie Wilson’s War and now British import In the Loop — has demonstrated the low ebb of modern comedy.”

The Town (94%): “The Town is nearly as ludicrous as [Affleck’s] debut Gone Baby Gone — another poison pen letter to Beantown.”

Gone Baby Gone (94%): “So far this year, no other movie has more risible dialogue.”

Midnight in Paris: (92%): “The groupie-like celebration of Allen’s doubled-up cultural insecurity and ambition represents a global degradation of culture standards.”

District 9: (91%): “District 9 represents the sloppiest and dopiest pop cinema — the kind that comes from a second-rate film culture.”

There Will Be Blood (91%): “‘No!’ is the first word spoken in There Will Be Blood, and it should be the last said in response to Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest pretend epic.”

Up in the Air: (90%): “Only seriously deluded people could enjoy Reitman’s funny-sad whiplash. He’s playing that same Hollywood game: keeping people ignorant of political economy.”

Michael Clayton (90%): “Hipster filmmakers keep looking backwards to the 1970s, hoping to disguise how ill-equipped they are to deal with contemporary social issues.”

Bridesmaids (90%): “It’s an overly contrived jumble, trying out too many comic ideas that eventually swamp the central subject of what a modern young woman expects regarding friendship, courtship and marriage.”

Tangled: (89%): ” By mixing up and confusing the purpose of cinematic amusement and fairy tales, Tangled is aptly named for the mass misperception of popular entertainment as a mechanism of gimmicks rather than an expression of feelings.”

Black Swan (88%): “Aronofsky’s ethnic denial and escape into Nina’s psychological trauma actually trivializes her artistic pursuit. Turning art into genre movie silliness is a careerist’s dance.”

Blue Valentine (88%): “Despite Blue Valentine’s blatant sensememories of nakedness and affection, irritation and itch, what Gosling and Williams reveal about their own concepts of heterosexual experience is ultimately inane.”

Easy A (85%): “Easy A is now frontrunner for worst film of 2010.”

Accolades for Otherwise Panned Films

Clash of the Titans (28%): “Leterrier certainly shows a better sense of meaningful, economic narrative than the mess that Peter Jackson made of the interminable, incoherent Lord of the Rings trilogy.”

Your Highness (26%): “By trashing fairytale propriety, Green and McBride personalize the genre enthusiasm of the Star Wars generation.”

Lions for Lambs (27%): “In the best directing of his auteur career, Robert Redford turns Carnahan’s original script into a modern-day version of what Sergei Eisenstein called ‘Intellectual Montage.’”

Resident Evil Afterlife (26%): “If critics and fanboys weren’t suckers for simplistic nihilism and high-pressure marketing, Afterlife would be universally acclaimed as a visionary feat, superior to Inception and Avatar on every level.”

Next Day Air (21%): “Filmgoers who think outside the artmovie box will discover that the artful and enjoyable Next Day Air offers an episode of 21st-century black American life that August Wilson never got to.”

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (20%): ” Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is more proof [Bay] has a great eye for scale and a gift for visceral amazement.”

Just Go With It (19%): “The humorous tangents of Just Go With It are testaments to the fine art of improvisation and of comedy that doesn’t take itself overly seriously.”

Dance Flick (18%): ” It isn’t highbrow — or encumbered by scruples — but the Wayanses retain their vulgar, adolescent derision of sex, class and race. In this bow down to Hollywood millennium, their irreverence is almost subversive.”

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (14%): “It’s a modern classic (despite a cheap-shot plug for Giuliani). By comparison, Hollywood’s most celebrated gay comedies — In and Out, Chuck and Buck, Blades of Glory, even the laughable Brokeback Mountain — were all failures of nerve.”

Grown Ups (10%): ” Cheerful and surprisingly heartfelt.”


Precious (91%): “Winfrey, Perry and Daniels make an unholy triumvirate. They come together at some intersection of race exploitation and opportunism.”

The Blindside (66%): ” All Bullock’s films promote an edifying sense of human experience — she has an instinct for what people like to see — and that gift makes The Blind Side the perfect, God-sent antidote to Precious.”