What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael

What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael is a new book by film critic David Sterritt that explores the life and work of one of the most influential movie reviewers of all time.

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Introduction

Pauline Kael was an American film critic who wrote for The New Yorker magazine from 1968 to 1991. She was known for her enthusiastic and outspoken style, as well as her ability to spot talent. Kael was one of the most influential film critics of her generation, and her reviews helped to shape the way films were made and received.

Kael was born in Petaluma, California, in 1919. She attended Berkeley High School and then the University of California, Berkeley. After graduation, she moved to New York City, where she began writing for City Lights, a avant-garde film magazine. She also worked as a reader for several Hollywood studios.

In 1951, Kael returned to the Bay Area and started writing a column for The San Francisco Chronicle. Her reviews were often witty and irreverent, and she quickly gained a following among moviegoers. In 1955, she moved back to New York City and began writing for Film Culture, a journal devoted to independent and experimental filmmaking.

Kael’s reviews began appearing in The New Yorker in 1968, and she soon became one of the magazine’s most popular writers. Her sharp wit and clever turns of phrase made her reviews a joy to read, even when you didn’t agree with her opinion. Kael championed many films that were ignored by other critics, including “Bonnie and Clyde,” “The Last Picture Show,” “Mean Streets,” “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” “Body Heat,” “She’s Gotta Have It,” “Sex, Lies, and Videotape,” “Thelma & Louise,” and “Pulp Fiction.”

In addition to her critical work, Kael also published several collections of her essays, including “I Lost it at the Movies” (1965), “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” (1968), “Going Steady” (1970), “Deeper into Movies” (1973), “When the Lights Go Down” (1980), and “Hooked” (1991).

Pauline Kael died in 2001 at the age of 82.

The Art of Pauline Kael

In her time, Pauline Kael was the most influential film critic in America. Her reviews were passionate, intelligent and always thought-provoking. She had a gift for seeing films clearly and describing them in a way that made you see them differently. She was also unafraid to challenge the status quo or take on the establishment.

Kael’s reviews were often contrarian, but they were never gratuitously so. She always had a valid point to make, even if it meant going against the grain. In her later years, she became known for her scathing reviews of popular films, but she could be equally tough on art-house fare that she felt was pretentious or overrated.

Kael was a master of the one-line put-down, but she could also be lyrical and poetic in her writing. She had a rare ability to evoke the experience of watching a film, and to make you see it in a new light. Whether you agreed with her or not, Pauline Kael always made you think about movies in a different way.

Her Life and Career

Pauline Kael was one of the most respected and influential film critics of her time. Born in Petaluma, California, in 1919, Kael began her career as a journalist and editor for various magazines in the 1950s. In the 1960s, she became a staff writer for The New Yorker, where she wrote incisive and often controversial reviews of both mainstream and independent films. Kael was known for her passion for film, her strong opinions, and her distinctive writing style, which often incorporated vernacular expressions and personal anecdotes. She retired from The New Yorker in 1991 and died in New York City in 1996.

Her Legacy

In a world without Pauline Kael, we might not have Lost in Translation, or Pulp Fiction, or Moonlight. We might not even have Roger Ebert. The legendary film critic, who died in 2001 at age 82, was the most influential—and most controversial—voice in movies for nearly five decades. Born in Petaluma, California, to Jewish immigrants from Poland, Kael got her start as a teenager writing for a local alternative weekly. In the early 1950s, she moved to Berkeley and began writing for the magazine Sight & Sound.

Her Influence on Film

Pauline Kael was one of the most influential film critics of her time. She was known for her sharp wit and her ability to see the art in film. She helped to shape the way we think about film and its place in society. Her work has influenced generations of filmmakers and critics.

Her Writing Style

Pauline Kael was known for her fearlessness, her originality, and her distinctive style. While other critics wrote in a more intellectual or objective manner, Kael’s reviews were personal, passionate, and often opinionated. This made her one of the most influential critics of her time, and her writing style is still studied and imitated today.

Her Love of Movies

In her long career as a film critic, Pauline Kael was known for her passionate love of movies. She was also known for her sharp, insightful writing, which helped her to become one of the most respected critics in the field.

Kael was born in Petaluma, California, in 1919. She began her career as a journalist, working for various newspapers in the San Francisco area. In the 1950s, she began to write about film for magazines such as The Nation and Partisan Review.

Kael became well-known in the 1960s with her reviews of mainstream Hollywood films. She was often critical of these films, but she also appreciated their entertainment value. In 1968, she published an essay called “Trash, Art, and the Movies,” in which she argued that popular films could be just as valid as art films.

Kael continued to write about film throughout the 1970s and 1980s. In 1981, she published a collection of her essays called For Keeps: 30 Years at the Movies. She retired from writing in 1991, but remained an active supporter of the industry until her death in 2013.

Her Controversies

Pauline Kael was one of the most influential and controversial film critics of her time. She was known for her strong opinions, her sharp wit, and her ability to provoke strong reactions in her readers. She was also known for her passionate support of independent cinema and for her willingness to speak her mind, even when it meant taking on the establishment.

Kael’s career was not without its controversy. She was often accused of being too subjective in her reviews, and of being too forgiving of films that she liked. She was also criticized for being too negative about films that she didn’t like. However, despite the criticism, Kael remained one of the most respected and feared film critics of her time.

Her Relationships

Pauline Kael was known for her scathing wit and her relationships with some of Hollywood’s biggest names. She was also known for her love of the arts, and she was a huge supporter of the film industry. Kael had a notoriously tumultuous relationship with her ex-husband, mystery writer James B. Stewart. The two divorced in 1987, but remained on good terms. Kael was also close friends with actress Faye Dunaway, who she met while working on the film Bonnie and Clyde.

Her Death

Pauline Kael, the great American film critic, died on September 3, 2001, at the age of 82. She was a controversial figure, loved and hated in equal measure, but her death was mourned by many. Kael was known for her sharp wit and her fearless approach to criticism, and she left a lasting mark on the world of film.

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