Pauline Kael

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She's been mentioned in almost every film-related discussion we've had, so it's about time she had her own thread, isn't it?

Justyn Dillingham (Justyn Dillingham), Monday, 17 February 2003 10:06 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

anyone know details about the forthcoming biography?

M Matos (M Matos), Monday, 17 February 2003 10:20 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

She was a remarkable woman. A bit of a witch, but a remarkable woman.

the pinefox, Monday, 17 February 2003 12:12 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

That's the kind of back-handed compliment that I am so sick of receiving. Who is this Kael woman?

Lara (Lara), Monday, 17 February 2003 12:16 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

But Jerry, that's a WARLOCK.

the pinefox, Monday, 17 February 2003 12:34 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I disagree. It's a necessity.

Lara (Lara), Monday, 17 February 2003 13:38 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Posted to the wrong thread. Can we make it work?

Lara (Lara), Monday, 17 February 2003 13:39 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Lara - do people really often call you a remarkable woman?

the pinefox, Monday, 17 February 2003 13:41 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

As often as they call you precious, my precious.

Lara (Lara), Monday, 17 February 2003 13:46 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I love her reviews. I don't think she's right as often as David Thompson, say, but I find her more fun to read. She's boring less often than almost any other critic ever in any form.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Monday, 17 February 2003 18:22 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

David Thomson (no "p") is better than Kael, I think. Just got thru reading a slim collection called "Under Mulholland." Thomson zinged me on a piece about a fictional director named Perkins Cobb...at least I think he's fictional, unless any of you out there have ever heard of a movie w/Warren Oates called "My Sweet Dread."

Kael is good...fun to read...but she misses the point a lot. Style is repetitive, even more so than that of most writers. Her main contributions: prescient review of "Bonnie and Clyde"; review of "Nashville" before it was offically released. Liked Altman when it was cool to dismiss him (post-M*A*S*H). Also, in her piece on "Long Goodbye" (Altman's take on Raymond Chandler) she really demolishes Chandler as the high-class hack he really was...so all to the good...

frank p. jones (frank p. jones), Monday, 17 February 2003 18:28 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Make that Thomson title "Beneath Mulholland: Thoughts on Hollywood and Its Ghosts."

frank p. jones (frank p. jones), Monday, 17 February 2003 18:29 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I think both Kael and Thomson are/were "wrong" very often and that doesn't hinder me from loving either of them. What good is a critic who agrees with you all the time? And what good are you if that's the case?

Pete Scholtes, Monday, 17 February 2003 21:41 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Yeah, I love when I disagree with Kael, which is often. Doesn't make her a worse critic in any way.

slutsky (slutsky), Monday, 17 February 2003 21:45 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Every critic should be on a soapbox and Mrs Kael most certainly was.

Wintermute (Wintermute), Monday, 17 February 2003 21:57 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

"I regard criticism as an art." I wish more critics thought that way (for better or worse).

Aaron W (Aaron W), Monday, 17 February 2003 22:01 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I regard criticism as fart.

Lara (Lara), Monday, 17 February 2003 23:13 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I think both Kael and Thomson are/were "wrong" very often and that doesn't hinder me from loving either of them. What good is a critic who agrees with you all the time? And what good are you if that's the case?
-- Pete Scholtes


Touchy, eh?

frank p. jones (frank p. jones), Monday, 17 February 2003 23:52 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

not at all, frank

M Matos (M Matos), Tuesday, 18 February 2003 01:43 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

one year passes...
does anyone know what Kael thought of "Vertigo"? i've read or at least skimmed all her books, but i've never seen her mention this film. i'm guessing she didn't like it - i don't think she ever liked a Hitchcock picture she couldn't describe as "fun."

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Monday, 13 September 2004 08:07 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

it's entirely possible she forgot about it or even never saw it. that would account for her weakness for brian depalma, of course. it was out of circulation in the 60s and 70s, as was 'rear window'.

Dead Man, Monday, 13 September 2004 08:13 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

It is queer than Greil Marcus dedicated Invisible Republic to her, save that, as JtN points out, it is not.

the bellefox, Monday, 13 September 2004 10:40 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

i've got a feeling that PK said vertigo was a sick, necrophiliac fantasty

Jay G (jaybob79), Monday, 13 September 2004 10:42 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

nice line of thought, Pauline: 'bonnie and clyde were REALLY horrible violent criminals!!!'

Dead Man, Monday, 13 September 2004 10:45 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I don't think she was a fan, but I'm gonna check. I think she referenced it at least once (it's GOTTA be in 5001 Nights At The Movies somewhere). I cannot WAIT until that biography comes out (whenever that might be).

manthony m1cc1o (Anthony Miccio), Monday, 13 September 2004 14:24 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

eleven months pass...
Kael's marginalia are very much in the classic Pauline mode. Penciled in a quick, tight cursive, her comments favor the expressively expostulatory: ''gawd," ''oh my," ''huh?," ''poo," ''bull," ''good," ''Jesus!," ''he's right," ''ugh," ''yup," ''oh come on," ''??," and ''!"

http://www.boston.com/ae/books/articles/2005/09/06/viewing_the_parcels_of_pauline/?page=full

don't be jerk, this is china (FE7), Thursday, 8 September 2005 23:46 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

LOL. I was just reading her two nights ago. It always makes me wish I were alive in NYC in the '70s.

Eric H. (Eric H.), Friday, 9 September 2005 00:38 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

A few capsules from 5001 Nights:

Weekend
"Only the title of this extraordinary poetic satire is casual and innocent. The writer-director Jean-Luc Godard has a gift for making the contemporary satiric and fantastic. He begins with just a slight stylization of civilized living now—the people are more adulterous, more nakedly mercenary, touchier. They have weapons, and use them at the slightest provocation, and it seems perfectly logical that they should get into their cars and bang into one another and start piling up on the roads. The traffic jam is a prelude to highways littered with burning cars and corpses. As long as Godard stays with cars as the symbol of bourgeois materialism, the barbarity of these bourgeois—their greed and the self-love they project onto their possessions—is exact and funny. The picture goes much further—sometimes majestically, sometimes with surreal details that suggest an affinity between Godard and Buñuel, sometimes with methods and ideas that miss, badly. There are extraordinary passages, such as a bourgeois wife's erotic confession and a long virtuoso sequence of tracking shots of cars stalled on the highway, with the motorists pressing down with all their might on their car horns, which sound triumphant, like trumpets in Purcell. Though deeply flawed, this film has more depth than any of Godard's earlier work. It's his vision of Hell and it ranks with the greatest. As a mystical movie WEEKEND is comparable to Bergman's THE SEVENTH SEAL and SHAME and Ichikawa's FIRES ON THE PLAIN and passages of Kurosawa, yet we're hardly aware of the magnitude of the writer-director's conception until after we are caught up in the comedy of horror, which keeps going further and further and becoming more nearly inescapable, like Journey to the End of the Night."

Exorcist II: The Heretic
"Directed by John Boorman, this picture has a visionary crazy grandeur (like that of Fritz Lang's loony METROPOLIS). Some of its telepathic sequences are golden-toned and lyrical, and the film has a swirling, hallucinogenic, apocalyptic quality; it might have been a horror classic if it had had a simpler, less ritzy script. But, along with flying demons and theology inspired by Teilhard de Chardin, the movie has Richard Burton, with his precise diction, helplessly and inevitably turning his lines into camp, just as the cultivated, stage-trained actors in early-30s horror films did. Like them, Burton has no conviction in what he's doing, so he can't get beyond staginess and artificial phrasing. The film is too cadenced and exotic and too deliriously complicated to succeed with most audiences (and when it opened, there were accounts of people in theatres who threw things at the screen). But it's winged camp—a horror fairy tale gone wild, another in the long history of moviemakers' king-size follies. There's enough visual magic in it for a dozen good movies; what it lacks is judgment—the first casualty of the moviemaking obsession. With Linda Blair, four year older than in the first film and going into therapy because of her nightmares, Louise Fletcher as the therapist, and Max von Sydow, Kitty Winn, Ned Beatty, Paul Henreid, and James Earl Jones as Pazuzu."

The Fury
"Brian De Palma's visionary, science-fiction thriller is the reverse side of the coin of Spielberg's CLOSE ENCOUNTERS. With Spielberg, what happens is so much better than you dared hope that you have to laugh; with De Palma, it's so much worse than you feared that you have to laugh. The script (John Farris's adaptation of his novel) is cheap gothic espionage occultism involving two superior beings—spiritual twins (Andrew Stevens and Amy Irving) who have met only telepathically. But the film is so visually compelling that a viewer seems to have entered a mythic night world; no Hitchcock thriller was ever so intense, went so far, or had so many "classic" sequences."

A Clockwork Orange
"This Stanley Kubrick film might be the work of a strict and exacting German professor who set out to make a porno-violent sci-fi comedy. The movie is adapted from Anthony Burgess's 1962 novel, which is set in a vaguely socialist future of the late 70s or early 80s—a dreary, routinized England that roving gangs of teenage thugs terrorize at night. In this dehumanizing society, there seems to be no way for the boys to release their energies except in vandalism and crime. The protagonist, Alex (Malcolm McDowell), is the leader of one of these gangs; he's a conscienceless schoolboy sadist who enjoys stealing, stomping, raping, and destroying, until he kills a woman and is sent to prison. There he is conditioned into a moral robot who becomes nauseated by thoughts of sex and violence. Burgess wrote an ironic fable about a future in which men lose their capacity for moral choice. Kubrick, however, gives us an Alex who is more alive than anybody else in the movie, and younger and more attractive, and McDowell plays him exuberantly, with power and slyness. So at the end, when Alex's bold, aggressive, punk's nature is restored to him, it seems not a joke on all of us (as it does in the book) but, rather, a victory in which we share, and Kubrick takes an exultant tone. Along the way, Alex has been set apart as the hero by making his victims less human than he; the picture plays with violence in an intellectually seductive way—Alex's victims are twisted and incapable of suffering. Kubrick carefully estranges us from these victims so that we can enjoy the rapes and beatings. Alex alone suffers. And how he suffers! He's a male Little Nell—screaming in a strait jacket during the brainwashing; sweet and helpless when rejected by his parents; alone, weeping, on a bridge; beaten, bleeding, lost in a rainstorm; pounding his head on a floor and crying for death. Kubrick pours on the hearts and flowers; what is done to Alex is far worse than what Alex has done, so society itself can be felt to justify Alex's hoodlumism."

Charly
"Sometimes mawkish pictures (like DAVID AND LISA and TO SIR WITH LOVE & 1967 and this one) catch on with the public and are taken seriously; characteristically naïve, "sincere," and pitifully clumsy in execution, they are usually based on material that experienced directors are too knowing to attempt. CHARLY, which had already been a heavily anthologized short story ("Flowers for Algernon," by Daniel Keyes), a TV play, and a novel, has the kind of terrible idea that makes what is often called "a classic"—really a stunted perennial. In the movie, directed by Ralph Nelson and adapted by Stirling Silliphant, Charly (Cliff Robertson), the mentally retarded adult whose teacher (Claire Bloom) helps him get brain surgery, tries to rape her as soon as he gets some book learning. Rejected, he becomes a hippie and a Hell's Angel, but he soon goes back to his books and becomes a fantastic, computer-sharp supergenius, and he and the teacher have an affair. The scheming scientists didn't tell him, though: his genius is only temporary—he must go back to being a dummy. This cheap fantasy with its built-in sobs also takes the booby prize for the worst use (yet) of the split screen; it's a slovenly piece of moviemaking and it's full of howlers. CHARLY may represent the unity of schlock form and schlock content—true schlock art."

The Sound of Music
"Set in Austria in 1938, this is a tribute to freshness that is so mechanically engineered and so shrewdly calculated that the background music rises, the already soft focus blurs and melts, and, upon the instant, you can hear all those noses blowing in the theatre. Whom could this operetta offend? Only those of us who, despite the fact that we may respond, loathe being manipulated in this way and are aware of how cheap and ready-made are the responses we are made to feel. We may become even more aware of the way we have been turned into emotional and aesthetic imbeciles when we hear ourselves humming the sickly, goody-goody songs. The dauntless, scrubbed-face heroine (Julie Andrews), in training to become a nun, is sent from the convent to serve as governess to the motherless Von Trapp children, and turns them into a happy little troupe of singers before marrying their father (Christopher Plummer). She says goodbye to the nuns and leaves them outside at the fence, as she enters the cathedral to be married. Squeezed again, and the moisture comes out of thousands—millions—of eyes and noses. Wasn't there perhaps one little Von Trapp who didn't want to sing his head off, or who screamed that he wouldn't act out little glockenspiel routines for Papa's party guests, or who got nervous and threw up if he had to get on a stage? The only thing the director, Robert Wise, couldn't smooth out was the sinister, archly decadent performance by Christopher Plummer—he of the thin, twisted smile; he seems to be in a different movie altogether."

West Side Story
"The film begins with a blast of stereophonic music, and everything about it is supposed to stun you with its newness, its size. The impressive, widely admired opening shots of New York from the air overload the story with values and importance—technological and sociological. And the dance movements are so sudden and huge, so portentously "alive" they're always near the explosion point. Consider the feat: first you take Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and remove all that cumbersome poetry; then you make the Montagues and Capulets modern by turning them into rival street gangs of native-born and Puerto Ricans. (You get rid of the parents, of course; America is a young country—and who wants to be bothered by the squabbles of older people?) There is the choreographer Jerome Robbins (who conceived the stage musical) to convert the street rumbles into modern ballet—though he turns out to be too painstaking for high-powered moviemaking and the co-director Robert Wise takes over. The writers include Ernest Lehman, who did the script, Arthur Laurents, who wrote the Broadway show, and, for the lyrics, Stephen Sondheim. The music is by Leonard Bernstein. The irony of this hyped-up, slam-bang production is that those involved apparently don't really believe that beauty and romance can be expressed in modern rhythms, because whenever their Romeo and Juliet enter the scene, the dialogue becomes painfully old-fashioned and mawkish, the dancing turns to simpering, sickly romantic ballet, and sugary old stars hover in the sky. When true love enters the film, Bernstein abandons Gershwin and begins to echo Richard Rodgers, Rudolf Friml, and Victor Herbert. There's even a heavenly choir. When Romeo-Tony meets his Juliet-Maria, everything becomes gauzy and dreamy and he murmurs, "Have we met before?" When Tony, floating on the clouds of romance, is asked, "What have you been taking tonight?" he answers, "A trip to the moon." Match that for lyric eloquence! (You'd have to go back to Odets.)"

Eric H. (Eric H.), Friday, 9 September 2005 18:02 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

five years pass...

tthere's a new URL for that dead Geocities page of 2800+ Kael reviews; I saw it this week but didn't save the addy. Anyone?

kind of shrill and very self-righteous (Dr Morbius), Friday, 17 December 2010 16:27 (eight years ago) Permalink

that's an invaluable resource. I was very sad when it went down.

Gus Van Sotosyn (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 17 December 2010 16:30 (eight years ago) Permalink

thx, but there's a new non-Wayback site.

kind of shrill and very self-righteous (Dr Morbius), Friday, 17 December 2010 16:41 (eight years ago) Permalink

cant find it, but i turned this up

http://thisrecording.com/film/2008/8/18/in-which-wes-anderson-tries-to-game-pauline-kael.html

my reaction to rushmore was similar to hers when i first saw it

Pussy v. Sperguson (Princess TamTam), Friday, 17 December 2010 16:59 (eight years ago) Permalink

It was included as the intro to the published Rushmore script eight or nine years ago.

Gus Van Sotosyn (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 17 December 2010 17:03 (eight years ago) Permalink

Yeah, but Edelstein mentions that she was mortified when it appeared in the New York Times too.

Pussy v. Sperguson (Princess TamTam), Friday, 17 December 2010 17:04 (eight years ago) Permalink

OOH. I didn't know about this squabble.

Gus Van Sotosyn (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 17 December 2010 17:07 (eight years ago) Permalink

I'm sure I've made it more than clear how much I love Kael, but I think she was completely wrong about Rushmore (to the extent that I can piece together her reaction from interviews, which seemed to be one of puzzlement). Just in general, I found I agreed with her less and less often towards the end. The quality of her writing was still great, but I found in terms of what she liked, she veered way in the direction of junk; it was almost like she discounted films that had any pretense towards seriousness. Her critics would probably say that that was always a problem with her, but at her best during the '70s, I think gave everything a fair look. I didn't feel that was true her last couple of years and in the interviews she gave after retiring. Obviously, there are exceptions--just a general observation.

clemenza, Friday, 17 December 2010 18:04 (eight years ago) Permalink

I disagree. While it's true she reviewed more junk, the eighties and early nineties also produced more and more of it. Also, those 1500-word essays on forgotten junk like Club Paradise and About Last Night feature some of her best writing ever; it's as if she accepted the terms of the debate and relaxed.

Gus Van Sotosyn (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 17 December 2010 18:06 (eight years ago) Permalink

'70s >>> '80 for movies, but State of the Art and Hooked are my favorites of her collections.

Gus Van Sotosyn (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 17 December 2010 18:07 (eight years ago) Permalink

A bunch of junk from the '80s has aged a little bit better than many of the serious movies from the same decade.

benanas foster (Eric H.), Friday, 17 December 2010 18:08 (eight years ago) Permalink

Fat keeps.

benanas foster (Eric H.), Friday, 17 December 2010 18:08 (eight years ago) Permalink

I dont think you can say someone's 'wrong' to be puzzled by a movie - i sure as shit didn't know what to make of it (rushmore) at the time.

Pussy v. Sperguson (Princess TamTam), Friday, 17 December 2010 18:08 (eight years ago) Permalink

wasn't she famously a champion of de sica (as opposed to sariss' "male weepies") and rosellini? i didn't get the impression she eschewed seriousness

zvookster, Friday, 17 December 2010 18:09 (eight years ago) Permalink

She had her blind spots (Bresson, Ozu, Mizoguchi), but so does every critic.

Gus Van Sotosyn (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 17 December 2010 18:11 (eight years ago) Permalink

De Sica is sort of trash compared to Rossellini.

benanas foster (Eric H.), Friday, 17 December 2010 18:12 (eight years ago) Permalink

Oh wait, she liked Rossellini too? Color me surprised.

benanas foster (Eric H.), Friday, 17 December 2010 18:13 (eight years ago) Permalink

i thought i recalled several admiring bresson reviews...l'argent & ... joan of arc maybe?

i love all those guys

zvookster, Friday, 17 December 2010 18:13 (eight years ago) Permalink

i didn't get the impression she eschewed seriousness

Early on, no--that was the point I was making. Being puzzled by Rushmore is fine; I think she's wrong not to think "Wow, that's an amazing film," but puzzlement is totally valid. I'm not a big fan of the '80s, so our thoughts on Kael are undoubtedly tied in to how we feel about the decade to begin with. At times, I thought she was amazing; her Casualties of War review ranks with anything she ever wrote.

clemenza, Friday, 17 December 2010 18:14 (eight years ago) Permalink

Oh no way. The only one with which she (barely) connected was ...Country Priest. She despised Mouchette, Lancelot, etc.

Gus Van Sotosyn (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 17 December 2010 18:15 (eight years ago) Permalink

This movie is, in its way, just about perfect, but it's minor, and so polished that it practically evaporates a half hour after it's over.

jmm, Tuesday, 14 May 2019 14:18 (one month ago) Permalink

and she hated the other Love in the Afternoon too (and no wonder)

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 14 May 2019 14:19 (one month ago) Permalink

xps I was under the impression that people generally loved The Warriors?

zama roma ding dong (Eric H.), Tuesday, 14 May 2019 14:22 (one month ago) Permalink

w/out looking i expect it didn't go over well with stodgy mainstreamers

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 14 May 2019 14:40 (one month ago) Permalink

Who are the reason a Pauline Kael had to happen, frankly.

zama roma ding dong (Eric H.), Tuesday, 14 May 2019 14:42 (one month ago) Permalink

wondering if i want to live another 9 years for a Sarris centennial retro

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 14 May 2019 14:45 (one month ago) Permalink

you may make it to the Peter Travers symposium.

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 14 May 2019 14:47 (one month ago) Permalink

I understand James Berardinelli has a lemonade stand set up outside where he dares you to change his mind.

zama roma ding dong (Eric H.), Tuesday, 14 May 2019 15:00 (one month ago) Permalink

btw John Simon turned 94 this week

only the good die young

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 14 May 2019 15:04 (one month ago) Permalink

When Kael joined The New Yorker in 1968, she soon became the most influential voice on an exploding art form, staking a position that often privileged “trash” over “art” and dismissed the auteur theory (although she could be as auteurist as they come).

Does this just mean that she loved directors? I take her argument in "Circles and Squares" to be that there are at least two version of the auteur theory, one of which makes strong theoretical claims and the other of which is trivial. i.e. If what the theory says is that directors can be great artists and that it's possible to follow a director's work like that of an author, then this is hardly a theory.

jmm, Tuesday, 14 May 2019 15:18 (one month ago) Permalink

I haven't read "Circles and Squares" in many years, but to me the argument felt more like American auteurists were basically being dumb boys about the whole thing.

zama roma ding dong (Eric H.), Tuesday, 14 May 2019 16:28 (one month ago) Permalink

In that recording of the 1963 symposium with her, Simon and Dwight MacDonald, she comes pretty unambiguously in defense of using auteurism to study directors' overall body of work, in the face of MacDonald's wholesale dismissal of Sarris and auteurism (he says ideally a critic would watch a movie without any foreknowledge of who made it, avoiding credits and such).

zama roma ding dong (Eric H.), Tuesday, 14 May 2019 16:31 (one month ago) Permalink

(An experiment M'DA tried at Cannes and it was dumb then too.)

zama roma ding dong (Eric H.), Tuesday, 14 May 2019 16:32 (one month ago) Permalink

"American men being literalists" was my takeaway.

I agree that Sarris, who isn't as memorable a spinner of phrases as Kael but is her equal as a critic, didn't deserve the pillorying. Yet what better way to introduce yourself as a new voice than to attack? We've all done it.

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 14 May 2019 16:32 (one month ago) Permalink

In that recording of the 1963 symposium with her, Simon and Dwight MacDonald, she comes pretty unambiguously in defense of using auteurism to study directors' overall body of work,

In "Circles and Square" she acknowledges that of course she and her friends knew that if they saw, say, Howard Hawks' name on a picture it would almsost certainly be a great time

(not for you, dear)

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 14 May 2019 16:33 (one month ago) Permalink

So long as it's Only Angels Have Wings or Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

zama roma ding dong (Eric H.), Tuesday, 14 May 2019 16:47 (one month ago) Permalink

I'd have to go back and check on The Warriors, but I think the reaction overall was middling--a few good reviews, either ignored or dismissed as another action film elsewhere. (Not that big on it myself.)

clemenza, Tuesday, 14 May 2019 18:56 (one month ago) Permalink

I had to look up The Warriors Wikipedia page - does seem as if Kael's rave ("The Warriors is a real moviemaker's movie: it has in visual terms the kind of impact that 'Rock Around the Clock' did behind the titles of Blackboard Jungle. The Warriors is like visual rock.") was def a minority view among mainstream American movie critics, though the film was a hit.

The Warriors was also a massive early home video hit, in the UK anyway, and the film - which I have always adored - is mixed up in my mind with things like Zombie Flesheaters, or even Cruising - movies first seen on video tape, with bright unstable colours, lots of shadows and darkness in the imagery, pumping rock-synthy soundtracks.

Kael clearly had a taste for this kind of stuff - eg her love of DePalma (Dressed to Kill especially is v similar to something like Argento's Tenebrae in style and intent)

Ward Fowler, Tuesday, 14 May 2019 21:00 (one month ago) Permalink

I had to watch it about 50 times working as an usher in 1979. That didn't help.

clemenza, Tuesday, 14 May 2019 22:26 (one month ago) Permalink

I always felt alienated by the whole Kael vs. Sarris thing, since I was never crazy about either's prose style or critical tastes, and both seemed largely irrelevant to the greater film discourse (whatever that is) by the 1980s. Farber would be my pick from that 60s-70s "golden age of film criticism", although if I was to choose a favorite from that era who actually wrote on a more regular basis, it would be Roger Greenspun, who was just as much the auteurist as Sarris but more eclectic in his enthusiasms and incredibly even more of a horndog. I mean, guy actually got turned on by a Straub-Huillet film, which has to be some kind of accomplishment.

I eventually gained an appreciation for Sarris' 1960s columns, where he was restrained from his worst impulses by limited space and the fact that it was pretty much just Mekas and him covering *everything*. The piece he did on watching Madame X as an in-flight movies is one of the more affecting pieces of film criticism I've read.

And one of the aspects of Sarris' writing that always irritated me - his inability to get over Kael's criticisms in Circles and Squares long after Kael had moved on - made a bit of sense when I realized he was getting bashed in print not just by her, but Macdonald, Simon, even Farber, all around the same time (didn't make his obsession with it any less tiresome though).

I will never understand Kael's whole "only see a film once" thing. Felt happy to learn that at least she played her favorite records many times.

gjoon1, Tuesday, 14 May 2019 23:36 (one month ago) Permalink

suspect that position made more sense as an expression of populism back when the average filmgoer was defined by their lack of access to movie history rather than by their star wars blurays

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 00:02 (one month ago) Permalink

embracing movies as essentially ephemeral being part of embracing them as "trash"

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 00:03 (one month ago) Permalink

Walter Hill's spectacle takes its story from Xenophon's Anabasis and its style from the taste of the modern urban dispossessed--in neon signs, graffiti, and the thrill of gaudiness. The film enters into the spirit of urban-male tribalism and the feelings of kids who believe that they own the streets because they keep other kids out of them. In this vision, cops and kids are all there is, and the worst crime is to be chicken. It has--in visual terms--the kind of impact that "Rock Around the Clock" had when it was played behind the titles of BLACKBOARD JUNGLE. It's like visual rock, and it's bursting with energy. The action runs from night until dawn, and most of it is in crisp, bright Day-

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 00:08 (one month ago) Permalink

Oops:

-Glo colors against the terrifying New York blackness; the figures stand out like a jukebox in a dark bar. There's a night-blooming, psychedelic shine to the whole baroque movie.

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 00:08 (one month ago) Permalink

I vaguely remember liking The Warriors at the time, but looking at the trailer now it looks bad

Dan S, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 00:53 (one month ago) Permalink

saw it for the first time a few months ago: it's good.

blokes you can't rust (sic), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 00:58 (one month ago) Permalink

will have to see it again

Dan S, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 01:07 (one month ago) Permalink

I remember being put off by a scene of an attempted rape in which I felt that the film's sympathies were with the perpetrator, rather than the woman, but I saw the movie long enough ago that I'm fuzzy on the exact details.

Walter Chaw (my fave current film writer) has a book coming out on Hill, so I feel like I'm due for a deep dive into the man's filmography.

Timothée Charalambides (cryptosicko), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 01:11 (one month ago) Permalink

The film doesn't dedicate much time to examining the sexual-social elements of its milieu, but it definitely makes clear that womens' safety is precarious.

blokes you can't rust (sic), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 01:36 (one month ago) Permalink

when I see it again I'm going to ignore the gang names

Dan S, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 01:47 (one month ago) Permalink

It's a pretty good, offbeat 'junk' genre film. The Driver is much more my cuppa tea.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 02:03 (one month ago) Permalink

(did she review it?)

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 02:03 (one month ago) Permalink

yes, a capsule review at least, I don't know if there was more. alfred posted it above

Dan S, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 02:21 (one month ago) Permalink

The Driver is something I want to see

Dan S, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 02:23 (one month ago) Permalink

I was surprised to see that Kael liked Loving (the George Segal/Eva Marie Saint film) so much, as it seemed like exactly the kind of upper-middle-class angsty thing that she routinely dismissed (I'm thinking of her pan of Ordinary People), I just watched it this morning and found it meandering and occasionally interesting: the scene with the divorced older couple was great, but I haven't decided how I feel about the gimmicky conclusion. Kael's point that the film doesn't judge any of the characters is curious: Segal is so repulsive that I found it hard not to see it as taking a stance against him, but I suppose the early 70s might have been more sympathetic towards embodiments of white, male, upper-middle-class privilege.

Timothée Charalambides (cryptosicko), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:59 (one month ago) Permalink

(did she review it?)

yup, c.1500 words, march 5 1979, collected in when the lights go down

mark s, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 19:07 (one month ago) Permalink

(or did you mean the driver, sorry)

mark s, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 19:23 (one month ago) Permalink

Loving is a bit more atmospheric and offbeat than Ordinary People (tho I agree it has its problems). Plus OP was part of her Redford vendetta; also they were suburban WASPs, and George Segal isn't.

yeah i meant The Driver, mark

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 19:24 (one month ago) Permalink

Morbs:

This gangster picture, which failed commercially here and is also an aesthetic failure, was Walter Hill's second film as a writer-director. (It was made after HARD TIMES and before THE WARRIORS.) Hill attempted to stylize gangster characters and conventions, and although he succeeded in the action sequences, which have a near-abstract visual power, the stylized characters, with their uninflected personalities, flatten the movie out. In trying to purify the gangster film, he lost the very element that has made gangster movies so enjoyable: the colorful lowlifes and braggarts, with their own slang. (Instead, the characters stare at each other in silence.) And in exalting "professionalism"-in setting forth a neo-Hemingway elitist attitude for judging people on the basis of their grace and courage-Hill shows such a limited perspective that the film is comic-book cops-and-robbers existentialism. Ryan O'Neal, with his soft voice, gives the central role a strange, callow quality that's very effective, but as his adversary in the police department, Bruce Dern is at his mannered worst. As a woman of mystery, Isabelle Adjani drops her voice down to a Dietrich level and never varies it-or her expression: she's as blank-faced as a figure at Mme. Tussaud's. With Ronee Blakley, who looks more vividly alive than anyone else but gets killed off fast, and Joseph Walsh.

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 19:31 (one month ago) Permalink

xxp

Yeah, I'd forgotten about her Redford thing; just meant that in general she seemed to have an aversion to "whiny white guy" movies (which may have been a more accurate way to put it).

Timothée Charalambides (cryptosicko), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 19:32 (one month ago) Permalink

she also recoiled from genre films that aspired to art

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 19:35 (one month ago) Permalink

ie Goodfellas

but yet loved Mean Streets

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 19:40 (one month ago) Permalink

Hill shows such a limited perspective that the film is comic-book cops-and-robbers existentialism.

this is what he was after, PK

she pulled the same "Where is Cagney?" thing with Goodfellas.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 19:41 (one month ago) Permalink

She's not wrong for disliking Goodfellas but ...

she pulled the same "Where is Cagney?" thing with Goodfellas.

The movie had Joe Pesci.

zama roma ding dong (Eric H.), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 19:42 (one month ago) Permalink

she loved The Grifters, disliked The Silence of the Lambs.

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 19:45 (one month ago) Permalink

That Geocities archive is such a nice relic from the old internet.

jmm, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 21:06 (one month ago) Permalink

except i have freq gotten virus warnings from it.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 21:12 (one month ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

I read and probably linked to this piece at the time (republished yesterday). I think it's excellent--although I continue to be perplexed by the idea that the Brian Kellow book was unsympathetic (and anyway, it's a biography--is it supposed to be sympathetic?).

http://www.vulture.com/2019/06/remembering-pauline-kael-film-critic.html

clemenza, Saturday, 8 June 2019 21:52 (one week ago) Permalink


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