The best piece of film criticism I've read in ages; a quick recommendation for easing depression

Of course it comes from Armond White, who absolutely shreds Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories:

Hollywood movies are made by some of the worst people in the world, a fact that all parties in the Harvey Weinstein scandal have now made clear. To understand who they are and the banality of their disreputable behavior, look to The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected).

Noah Baumbach directed Kicking & Screaming, my favorite movie about post-college young adulthood. He's also directed a number of movies I hated, so there's that. What makes White's flame so well-served is how well he understands Baumbach's work.

Last year I was taking part in an "art therapy" group during a long hospitalization (when you have depression to the degree I do, nothing is hokey). We were analyzing song lyrics and the therapist played Desperado, and upon its conclusion I went into a long-winded rant about how much I hate the Eagles, why I hate the Eagles and used several of their lyrics and musical conventions to establish my point. The guy sitting next to me said, "For a guy that hates the Eagles you sure know a fuckload about them."

My flat, unrehearsed reply: "Only a mongoloid hates things they don't understand."

My point of including that possible humble-brag in relation to White's review is the obvious: when White hates something that is conventionally loved by critics, there's usually a reason, and it's not just garden-variety contrarianism. Reviews like this, whether you agree with his findings or not, are why he is the best American film critic (and it's not even close). FWIW, hes' the only critic I read every week.


Although I rarely write about my depression, I will say that art therapy - music, drawing, even coloring - is as effective as any conventional talk-therapy I've ever had. It is not a cure-all, not even close, but there is something about the concentration involved that eases the melancholy, at least temporarily. If you or a loved one struggle with serious depression, I highly recommend buying one of those coloring books for adults - I am aware how silly and stupid that sounds, but trust me, it is effective for both major depression (which I have) and for PTSD (which I do not but know several people who do).

I was at one of the best hospitals in the country for dual-diagnosis patients last year (I'm not dual-diagnosis, but if there's a hospital specifically for depression I haven't found it) and once you're through with your 30- 60- or 90-day stay, you get to address the patient group and the staff. Some people write elaborate speeches, some will recite poetry or sing a song they wrote. I kept my remarks very brief and named two people who helped me get out of a very dark place - one was my therapist I saw daily, and the other was the woman who led art therapy.

Moral of the story and a good life lesson: Don't knock it 'til you've tried it.

Creede Kurtz

I write about the movies I see and a few other things.

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