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Andrew Sarris, a key proponent of the theory, debated it with Kael in the pages of The New Yorker and various film magazines. The originality of her opinions, as well as the forceful way in which she expressed them, won her ardent supporters as well as angry critics and fans.[55]. And Kael, without exaggeration, hated the idea of it. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit organization helping the academic community use digital technologies to preserve the scholarly record and to advance research and teaching in sustainable ways. It was OK with me that she didn't like the film, and it didn't bother me that she didn't like the point I was making, or even how I was making it. She was one of the most influential American film critics of her era. Life, as Shoeshine demonstrates, is too complex for facile endings. More Pauline Kael in the July 2019 issue of Sight & Sound Mission critical. TV Shows. Kael sums up her criticism by wondering why the auteur theory prefers certain commerical films — a saving grace of the auteur theory some will say. "[71] This misquote, which added an element of surprise on Kael's part, was over the next 40 years regularly cited by conservatives (such as Bernard Goldberg, in his 2001 book Bias) as an example of insularity among the liberal elite. [2] Kael dubbed the film "Slimelight" and began publishing film criticism regularly in magazines. AUTEUR THEORY HATERS Why do some people hate auteurs? The film also shows several of Kael's appearances on PBS, including one alongside Woody Allen. He is a good critic if he helps people understand more about the work than they could see for themselves; he is a great critic, if by his understanding and feeling for the work, by his passion, he can excite icrcles so that they want to experience more of the art that is there, waiting to be seized. Her collection 5001 Nights at the Movies includes positive reviews of nearly all of Peckinpah's films, with the exception of The Getaway (1972), as well as Hill's Hard Times (1975), The Warriors (1979), and Southern Comfort (1981). In his preface to a 1983 interview with Kael for the gay magazine Mandate, Sam Staggs wrote that "she has always carried on a love/hate affair with her gay legions. I walked up the street, crying blindly, no longer certain whether my tears were for the tragedy on the screen, the hopelessness I felt for myself, or the alienation I felt from those who could not experience the radiance of Shoeshine. She became known as his nemesis. Kael had intended to go on to law school, but fell in with a group of artists[5] and moved to New York City with the poet Robert Horan. She and Sarris went back and forth over the subject. Occasionally, she championed films that were considered critical failures, such as The Warriors and Last Tango in Paris. [18] William Shawn of The New Yorker obtained the piece and ran it in the New Yorker issue of October 21. Despite the violent protests of Pauline Kael, the theory caught on, sending an entire generation of film critics out to fish for genius in the murky waters of Hollywood B pictures. (In a sense, Kael was right that its ways of doing so are restrictive.) Among her more popular essays were a damning 1973 review of Norman Mailer's semi-fictional Marilyn: a Biography (an account of Marilyn Monroe's life);[26] an incisive 1975 look at Cary Grant's career;[27] and "Raising Kane" (1971), a book-length essay on the authorship of the film Citizen Kane that was the longest piece of sustained writing she had yet done. I came out of the theater, tears streaming, and overheard the petulant voice of a college girl complaining to her boyfriend, "Well I don't see what was so special about that movie." [47], Though she published no new writing of her own, Kael was not averse to giving interviews, occasionally giving her opinion on new films and television shows. She also had a strong dislike for films that she felt were manipulative or appealed in superficial ways to conventional attitudes and feelings. Auteur theory definition is - a view of filmmaking in which the director is considered the primary creative force in a motion picture. Kael was born on a chicken farm in Petaluma, California, to Isaac Paul Kael and Judith Kael (née Friedman), Jewish emigrants from Poland. Pauline Kael, Self: Talking Film. Her 'preview' of Robert Altman's film Nashville (1975) appeared in print several months before the film was actually completed, in an attempt to prevent the studio from recutting the film and to catapult it to box-office success. Published in 1965 as I Lost It at the Movies, the collection sold 150,000 paperback copies and was a surprise bestseller. [58], Kael had a taste for antihero films that violated taboos involving sex and violence; this reportedly alienated some of her readers. [10] Alternately, Kael was said to have had the power to prevent filmmakers from working; David Lean claimed that her criticism of his work "kept him from making a movie for 14 years"[86] (referring to the 14-year break between Ryan's Daughter in 1970 and A Passage to India in 1984). Pauline Kael opposed him – the two camps were known as the Sarristes and the Paulettes Kael also wrote philosophical essays on movie-going, the modern Hollywood film industry, and what she perceived as the lack of courage on the part of audiences to explore lesser-known, more challenging movies (she rarely used the word "film" to describe films because she felt the word was too elitist). [60], However, Kael responded negatively to some action films that she felt pushed what she described as "right wing" or "fascist" agendas. Sarah Jessica Parker reads from Kael’s reviews; filmmakers Quentin Tarantino, Paul Schrader, and Francis Ford Coppola and critics Camille Paglia, Molly Haskell, Greil Marcus, and David Edelstein speak to her enormous gifts and influence. And the best place to begin, naturally, is the New Yorker, where she was a staff critic, writing week in and week out for six months out of each year between 1968 and 1991. Brian Kellow published a biography about Kael in 2011: A Life in the Dark (Viking Press). [49] She was not especially cruel to some films that had been deplored by many critics—such as the 1972 Man of La Mancha, in which she praised Sophia Loren's performance. Critic Pauline Kael led the charge against auteur theory. In a 1998 interview with Modern Maturity, she said she sometimes regretted not being able to review: "A few years ago when I saw Vanya on 42nd Street, I wanted to blow trumpets. While this is still hotly debated today, it was just as controversial of a statement back when Citizen Kane was made. JSTOR®, the JSTOR logo, JPASS®, Artstor®, Reveal Digital™ and ITHAKA® are registered trademarks of ITHAKA. She also panned films that had elsewhere attracted critical admiration, such as A Woman Under the Influence,[50] The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Lawrence of Arabia,[51] most experimental cinema[52] (calling it "a creature of publicity and mutual congratulations on artistry"), most student films ("freshmen compositions"),[53] It's a Wonderful Life, Shoah, Dances with Wolves[54] and 2001: A Space Odyssey, the last of which Kael dubbed a "monumentally unimaginative movie." With a personal account, you can read up to 100 articles each month for free. Kael was known for her "witty, biting, highly opinionated and sharply focused"[1] reviews, her opinions often contrary to those of her contemporaries. Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, from Thackeray’s novel, is very deliberate, very smooth—cool pastel landscapes with small figures in the foreground, a stately tour of European high life in the mid-eighteenth century. In 1970, Kael received a George Polk Award for her work as a critic at the New Yorker. Sarris' emphasis on directoral meaning is too romanticized. To Kael, Sarris concentrates on what is established, unoriginal in a work and ignores new ideas, one-offs and innovations. Her creepy battle with Andrew Sarris and his auteur theory was legendary, and her stint in Hollywood, trying her hand at producing, was a disaster. At the movies, we are gradually being conditioned to accept violence as a sensual pleasure. She has great passion, terrific wit, wonderful writing style, huge knowledge of film history, but too often what she chooses to extol or fails to see is very surprising. Auteur theory went out of style in the 60s, finds Sarris and other academics pretentious. "[61] In an otherwise extremely positive critique of Peckinpah's Straw Dogs, Kael concluded that the controversial director had made "the first American film that is a fascist work of art". Cahiers du Cinéma: History Started in April 1951 with: Re-inventing the basic principles of Film Criticism and Theory Joseph-Marie Lo Duca Jacques Doniol-Valcroze André Bazin In Issue 31, 1954 François Truffaut, influential film critic and filmmaker and one of the founders of the One of Kael’s abiding principles is that we should not be false to what we enjoy. And Sarris, as noted above, began backtracking and tinkering with his original conception almost from the beginning. There seems to be an assumption that if you're offended by movie brutality, you are somehow playing into the hands of the people who want censorship. With many artforms, this is relatively clear (though still debatable!) She tried and failed to work as a playwright in her 20s, and began writing film reviews as a freelance writer for film journals in the 1950s. She labeled Don Siegel's Dirty Harry (1971), starring Clint Eastwood, a "right-wing fantasy" and "a remarkably single-minded attack on liberal values. "[36], Kael battled the editors of the New Yorker as much as her own critics. [76] In the '70s and '80s, Kael cultivated friendships with a group of young, mostly male critics, some of whom emulated her distinctive writing style. You couldn't apply her 'approach' to a film. In 1978, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry. [14], Kael continued to juggle writing with other work until she received an offer to publish a book of her criticism. The Controversy Behind Citizen Kane, Mank, and Pauline Kael One of the most argued points in film theory is the idea of auteurism, or that the director is the sole author of a film. In the introduction (which was reprinted in The New Yorker), Kael stated, in reference to her film criticism, "I'm frequently asked why I don't write my memoirs. "[60] She also called it "fascist medievalism. The auteur critic, according to Kael, prefers products made out of inferior products: Kael is asserting that the auteur theory venerates directors who repeat uninteresting squuares obvious devices. The Controversy Behind Citizen Kane, Mank, and Pauline Kael One of the most argued points in film theory is the idea of auteurism, or that the director is the sole author of a film. [93], Author portrait of Kael from the dust jacket of, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, San Francisco International Film Festival, "Pauline Kael, Provocative and Widely Imitated New Yorker Film Critic, Dies at 82", "Cinema-Guild and Studio in Berkeley, CA", "All Hail Kael: A film series remembers the uncompromising, "Eighty-Five From the Archive: Pauline Kael", "The Frightening Power of "Bonnie and Clyde, "50 Years Later: How Bonnie and Clyde Violently Divided Film Critics", "Roaring at the Screen with Pauline Kael", "How Hollywood Seduced and Abandoned Critic Pauline Kael (Exclusive Book Excerpt)", "For Pauline Kael, Retirement as Critic Won't Be a Fade-Out", Cinema Scope|I Lost It at the Movies: Charlie Kaufman's Antkind and I'm Thinking of Ending Things, Pauline Kael: Last Broadcast, KPFA and Report to the Subscriber by Trevor Thomas.-Internet Archive, Radical Light, Alternative Film in San Francisco Area - The New York Times, Film since World War Two – Pauline Kael 1968:Pacifica Radio Archives-Internet Archive, "Exit the hatchet woman: Why Pauline Kael was bad for world cinema", Pauline Kael's last broadcasts.-Internet Archive, A Survivor of Film Criticism’s Heroic Age, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE: STANLEY STRANGELOVE – Review by Pauline Kael-Scraps from the Loft, "2 Critics Here Focus on Films As Language Conference Opens", "The Actual Pauline Kael Quote—Not As Bad, and Worse", "Changing the polarized electoral landscape", In Defense of Armond White|Features|Roger Ebert, "Pauletteburo? She also panned films that had elsewhere attracted critical admiration, such as A Woman Under the Influence, The Loneliness of the Long Distanc… Interior meaning is extrapolated from the tension between a director's personality and his material." With the voice of Sarah Jessica Parker narrating for Kael, the film is a portrait of the work of the film critic and her influence on the male-dominated worlds of cinema and film criticism. [59], She was an enthusiastic, if occasionally ambivalent, supporter of Sam Peckinpah and Walter Hill's early work, both of whom specialized in violent action dramas. [48], Kael's opinions often ran contrary to the consensus of her fellow critics. For if people cannot feel Shoeshine, what can they feel? "[68], In December 1972, a month after U.S. President Richard Nixon was reelected in a landslide victory, Kael gave a lecture at the Modern Language Association, during which she said, "I live in a rather special world. '"[67] Kael herself rejected the accusations as "craziness," adding, "I don't see how anybody who took the trouble to check out what I've actually written about movies with homosexual elements in them could believe that stuff. Kael's career is discussed at length in the documentary For the Love of Movies (2009) by critics whose careers she helped shape, such as Owen Gleiberman and Elvis Mitchell, as well as by those who fought with her, such as Andrew Sarris. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Kael's opinions often ran contrary to the consensus of her fellow critics. Published By: University of California Press, Read Online (Free) relies on page scans, which are not currently available to screen readers. Pauline Kael (/ k eɪ l /; June 19, 1919 – September 3, 2001) was an American film critic who wrote for The New Yorker magazine from 1968 to 1991. The auteur theory had detractors from the beginning. Three years later, Kael returned to Berkeley and "led a bohemian life," writing plays, and working in experimental film. Pauline Kael (courtesy Quad Cinema) ... Auteur theory is an imperfect way of expressing the humanity of filmmaking. [10] He was defended by critics, scholars and friends, including Peter Bogdanovich, who rebutted Kael's claims in a 1972 article[33] that included the revelation that Kael had appropriated the extensive research of a UCLA faculty member and did not credit him. Was particularly critical towards Clint Eastwood: her reviews and in interviews to get –. I do n't have to be very keen to see that they saying! Capsule reviews of the New Yorker obtained the piece and ran it in the New Yorker and various magazines... Was right that its ways of doing so are restrictive. Kael for libel York Times included this quote began. Brash writing style an odd fit with the sophisticated and genteel New Yorker Kael invited questions from the beginning its! 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