Of course, he makes me love him right off the top by referencing a Whit Stillman film:
Pixar has now made three movies explicitly about toys, yet the best movie depiction of how toys express human experience remains Whit Stillman’s 1990 Metropolitan. As class-conscious Tom Townsend (Edward Clements) tries fitting in with East Side debutantes, he discovers his toy cowboy pistol in his estranged father’s trash. Without specifying the model, Stillman evokes past childhood, lost innocence and Townsend’s longing for even imagined potency.
Here's some more:
Look at the Barbie and Ken sequence where the sexually dubious male doll struts a chick-flick fashion show. Since it serves the same time-keeping purpose as a chick-flick digression, it’s not satirical. We’re meant to enjoy our susceptibility, not question it, as in Joe Dante’s more challenging Small Soldiers. Have shill-critics forgotten that movie? Do they mistake Toy Story 3’s opening day for 4th of July patriotism?Just go read it already.
When Toy Story 3 emulates the suspense of prison break and horror films, it becomes fitfully amusing (more than can be said for Wall-E or Up) but this humor depends on the recognition of worn-out toys which is no different from those lousy Shrek gags. Only Big Baby, with one Keane eye and one lazy eye, and Mr. Potato Head’s deconstruction into Dali’s slip-sliding “Persistence of Memory” are worthy of mature delectation. But these references don’t meaningfully expand even when the story gets weepy. The Toy Story franchise isn’t for children and adults, it’s for non-thinking children and adults. When a movie is this formulaic, it’s no longer a toy because it does all the work for you. It’s a sap’s story.
So where we started this post--that Armond White just doesn't care what other people think--is reflected in the comments on Rotten Tomatoes on his review, all 800 of them. The negative ones are just vicious. People are trying to petition Rotten Tomatoes to not include White in their aggregation.
Oh, and for some more Whit Stillman, check out this 2009 interview with Stillman on WNYC when The Last Days of Disco was released on DVD as part of the Criterion Collection. I made a special trip to Barnes and Noble to buy it the day I heard this interview on the radio.
The trailer is terrible and gives almost no true sense of the film, so instead here's a clip from the film that is more representative:
In addition, you should read--who else's?--Armond White's review, though this copy is laden with typos, some of which I've corrected in this sample:
These are Stillman's fullest, most daring characters yet. Alice and Josh's first private talk ("I take no for an answer," he tells her when she teases) contains bold, humanist risk. Describing himself as a loon, Josh recites a hymn, then makes the sound of a bird, swaying off balance as he walks down the street, "You think I'm wacko?" he asks, taking Alice inside his loneliness, and her sad look communicates a shared confidence. Contemporary movies rarely get as intimate as that and Stillman goes further. English actress Kate Beckinsale achieves a striking American bitch transformation: Sleek, haughty and precipitate, her churning insecurities are protected by an impeccable, inherited facade. Beckinsale's Charlotte constantly abrades and one-ups her initial infatuations, yet Stillman shows a side of her character--she sings--that takes the entire comedy of manners into unexpected territory, revealing a suppressed cultural background that explains these urbane pilgrims at both their best and worst.
You can also check out this previous Whit Stillman post from March 2009. I also name checked Last Days in discussing Shattered Glass in 2004.