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Paulettes, Start Your Engines

Filed under: Looked Into   Tagged: , , , ,

No time to describe this now, just know it’s about Pauline Kael and her influence on contemporary—and contemporary New Yorker—film criticism, and also that the writer uses “kaelled” as a verb in his headline. (Which seems to be a gaming term when spelled with one L; if you know more, write in.) As for me, I own almost every single Kael volume in first edition, and I don’t collect first editions! And one of ‘em’s signed! Don’t burgle me!

Speaking of film critics, Juno, Knocked Up, and suchlike, here’s a sound critique of complaints by Time’s Richard Corliss, who thinks critics are showing off with their lists of arty obscurities and ignoring “mainstream” movies. What can American movie audiences handle? Why don’t we try making and hyper-promoting fewer terrible movies and find out?


Yes! I am so sick of studios assuming our idiocy (or encouraging it). It’s even worse when critics do it; someone has to be optimistic about the future of film and the people who go see it! (That’s why I wrote the critique.)

Pauline Kael was no snob; she liked “Used Cars,” hardly a bastion of renegade independent cinema. She also hated “Hiroshima mon Amour.” Anyway, I don’t think Kael created “the rift between popular movies and cinematic movies.” What she did was made the cinematic movies more popular, or become the norm for a bit. Scorsese, De Palma, Coppola: these are all popular directors, liked by a wide variety of people. Film moves forward and should reflect the present: the old sweeping Hollywood dramas had little resonance to the culture in the 70s, which is why Kael championed a new kind of filmmaking and why that filmmaking became the norm and eventually became popular.

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2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree