The Arty Semite

Armond White's 'Greenberg' Problem (And Ours?)

By Ezra Glinter

  • Print
  • Share Share
Focus Features
Ben Stiller in “Greenberg.”

“Greenberg,” a new movie by director Noah Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale,” “Margot at the Wedding”), doesn’t open until tomorrow, but it’s already stirred up a furor among the critics. Well, one critic, anyway.

The movie stars Ben Stiller as the eponymous Roger Greenberg, a miserable musician from Los Angeles who has returned from living in New York after having a nervous breakdown. In a recent piece in the New York Times, film critic Dennis Lim declared the movie to be “an often bruising character study, notable for its emotional violence.”

Not everyone agrees, however. The current brouhaha surrounding “Greenberg” began when Armond White, an outspoken reviewer for the New York Press, was disinvited to a critics screening at the behest of publicist Leslee Dart. White had panned Baumbach’s previous films, but more controversially, had written a piece in 1998 about Baumbach’s film “Mr. Jealousy,” stating that while colleagues of Baumbach’s mother (Village Voice writer Georgia Brown) “now shamelessly bestow reviews as belated nursery presents. To others, ‘Mr. Jealousy’ might suggest retroactive abortion.”

That review, long considered an urban legend, was dug up and posted in its entirety by J. Hoberman, the senior film critic at the Voice. White responded with a lengthy piece of his own, ostensibly a review of “Greenberg” (which he did, eventually, get to see, and which he didn’t, unsurprisingly, like), in which he presents the whole affair as an issue of free speech and censorship. He also denounces the influence of Hollywood publicists (“Many publicists don’t respect critics; they exploit them”) and attacks Hoberman, who he calls the “scoundrel-czar of contemporary film criticism” and accuses of “[breaking] rank with professional ethics and [using] the injunction to launch a personal attack against a fellow scribe.” Finally, he concludes, “As Chairman of the New York Film Critics Circle, I must rise above it.” A bit too late for that, I’m afraid.

But what of the film itself? Well, you’ll just have to stay tuned for the Forward’s forthcoming review. In the meantime, check out this equally hostile encounter between Stiller and comedian Zach Galifianakis on the latter’s Internet talk show, “Between Two Ferns.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Village Voice, Noah Baumbach, The Squid and the Whale, Roger Greenberg, New York Film Critics Circle, Mr. Jealousy, Margot at the Wedding, Leslee Dart, J. Hoberman, Georgia Brown, Film, Ezra Glinter, Dennis Lim, Ben Stiller, Armond White, Zach Galifianakis

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • "What I didn’t realize before my trip was that I would leave Uganda with a powerful mandate on my shoulders — almost as if I had personally left Egypt."
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.