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!
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • 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.