Armond White’s Chronicle review is a masterpiece of Armond Whitishness

Senior Editor
02.03.12 18 Comments

The character Max in Chronicle is fond of quoting philosophers, which I found sort of obnoxious (he felt like the least fleshed-out character), but leave it to Armond White to take the ball and run with it. He starts with Plato and it goes from there. The distinguished former chairman of The Golden Seal Bull Moose Moving Picture Appreciation Society of the 1934 World’s Fair found much to love in Chronicle, but especially the serendubitable opportuniciousness to burnish the effervescent patina of his own erudite literocracy. ETHEL WATERS! ETHEL WATERS! ATTICA!

Chronicle alludes to the metaphoric hormonal urges of DePalma’s classics Carrie and The Fury—in fact it’s loaded with pop references. Screenwriter Max Landis throws in plot concepts and gimmicks (like Obama and the cousins’ pursuit of a female video blogger) without ever achieving the concentration on moral quandary and mythology that distinguished last year’s Trollhunter, the Scandinavian upgrade of the witness-to-horror stunt premise.

“Hello, Max? Hi, yeah, it’s Armond, at the studio. We were reading your script, and we love it. LOVE it. I mean we REALLY love it. Everyone says you’re a genius, truly. But a couple of us, well, we just thought the whole ‘moral quandary and mythology that distinguished Trollhunter‘ thing could use a little more… well, concentration, you know? I mean give that moral quandary a Ritalin, am I right?? Anyhoo, call me back, babe, we’ll scat.”

Landis and Trank only play around with that potential (also tossing in Let the Right One In allusions). But when the three friends discover an ability to fly and play football in the sky, the metaphor for prowess and transcendence blends digital video effects and genuine cinematic spectacle into the damnedest thing since the skydiving scenes in Point Break. From there, Chronicle’s play with spectacle and imagination is almost a fascinating version of Plato’s allegory.

I have nothing to add. That is the most Armond White paragraph ever written. I don’t have the slightest idea what it means, but I have the overwhelming urge to invite it to my house and make it shit-talk Hoberman.

(Is it accidental that neurasthenic DeHaan resembles a cross between Jonathan Caouette and Todd Haynes?)

Oh, Armond, only a child would consider a person’s physical resemblance to relatively obscure filmmakers “accidental.” GO DEEPER, MAN! I’m sure there’s a conspiracy here.

Masterpieces like Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch, Bertolucci’s The Conformist, DePalma’s The Fury and Spielberg’s War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin make aesthetic issues part of their stories—the Blair Witch hoaxes don’t. [CityArts]

An intriguing argument that you can barely hear over the scream of him comparing The Fury and The Wild Bunch to f*cking War Horse? Classic Armond. “The unexamined utilization of self-shot video techniques is a revolutionary assertion, a cinematic breakthrough  the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Chinatown, On the Waterfront, Frankenheimer’s Manchurian Candidate, Van Wilder, or Lea Thompson’s seminal masterpiece, Caroline in the City.”

I love this man.

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