1. Wrapping up this week’s heavy film talk, I thought I’d post some provocative recent thoughts from controversial New York Press film critic Armond White. If you’re not familiar with White, he’s a bit of an agitator – frequently unfair but never boring and definitely coming from a sympathetic point of view (ht LF):

“. . . from early on, I knew I was different. Our parents raised us Baptist, then they got saved and became Pentecostal. There was always a lot of religion around. It had a big effect on me. I’m a believer. I think God is the force for ultimate good in the universe. He made the movies, didn’t he? If you cut me open, that’s what you’d find: the movies, Bible verses, and Motown lyrics.”

Anyhow, he used his review of the recent rom-com “It’s Complicated” as an occasion to give some pointed analysis of contemporary Hollywood. Check it out:

“No film school teaches about the Phantom Hollywood genre: mainstream movies that sneakily validate the personal foibles of film industry professionals. These movies—usually about divorce, infidelity, broken homes, power-and-sex addictions—are contrived to look like they’re about average folk. Nancy Meyers’ ‘It’s Complicated’ is the latest. Its story of a middle-aged divorced couple—Jane and Jake—who get back together despite other new attachments, bears little connection to actual human behavior or recognizable lifestyles. Each ‘adorable’ yet unreal scene is more offensive than the last.

Art is supposed to be personal expression, but Phantom Hollywood movies deliberately avoid self-examination. They’re about self-pity and their plots navigate self-absolution for mistakes made through permissiveness, privilege and sheer vanity. ‘It’s Complicated’ is textbook Phantom Hollywood, starting with its establishing shot of sun-baked gabled roofs and manicured lawns—the middle-class world that once was the setting for boulevard comedies written for the theater to entertain the bourgeoisie. Recently this Los Angeles luxe has become the default milieu for fantasies about Hollywood’s nouveau riche (see any Judd Apatow-directed film).

“Meyers couldn’t be more false if she was trying to overlook complexity, difficulty and toil. Her slick, easily managed complications are no more credible than the myth of domestic happiness, which promiscuous Hollywood refuses to endorse. ‘It’s Complicated’ endorses analysis. Jane’s therapist session basically asks for permission (“It can’t hurt”)—the Hollywood alternative to prayer or religious counsel. No spiritual quest occurs in Phantom Hollywood movies, that’s why its characters are vapid.

2. Mike Horton responds briefly to Pat Robertson’s truly detestable comments about Haiti. A lot more could be said, but how much do we really want to dignify Robertson’s predictably anti-Gospel bile…

3. The Leno vs Conan debacle. While Conan certainly has all of my/our support, the “letter-of-the-law” tone of this whole thing is starting to lead where these things always lead – sanctimony, schadenfreude and litigation (ht TB). At least the jokes are still funny! What do you think?

4. The Book Of Eli. As a shameless post-apocalyptic junkie, I’ve had high hopes for this one, and The A/V Club’s review only stoked the flames:

In the wake of The Passion Of The Christ, the expected deluge of big-budget Christian entertainments has never quite materialized, but the logline for the post-apocalyptic thriller The Book Of Eli—about a Biblical warrior who protects the last known copy of the Good Book—suggests a late start. Working from a script by Gary Whitta, the Hughes brothers, Albert and Allen, have made a stark affirmation of faith as a guiding light for a broken, lawless civilization, but to their credit, the film stops well short of proselytizing.

5. Finally, in financial news, apparently this is real (ht AZ). Invest with conviction!