Film critic Pauline Kael dies at age 82

Brian Lawrence

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"GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. (AP) - Movie critic Pauline Kael, a brash, witty champion of artistic quality who thrashed both facile commercialism and self-indulgent pretense from her lofty perch at The New Yorker, has died. She was 82."
Link to story
Sad news.
[Edited last by Brian Lawrence on September 03, 2001 at 07:11 PM]
 

Mark Bendiksen

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While I certainly didn't agree with all of Ms. Kael's opinions (who did?), she was an extraordinary writer and a true original.
She will be missed.
 

James RD

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On "Dances with Wolves," 1990: "This is a nature-boy movie, a kid's daydream of being an Indian. When Dunbar has become a Sioux named Dances with Wolves, he writes in his journal that he knows for the first time who he really is. (Actor-director Kevin) Costner has feathers in his hair and feathers in his head."
I think she put it perfectly. She will be missed.
 

Jon_Are

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I started reading The New Yorker in 1982 and have not, I don't think, missed more than a handful of issues. Ms. Kael, during her years there, was my most-anticipated section of the magazine.
Funny you should mention her review of Dances with Wolves, James. I recall one of her lines from that review - in which she bashes Mr. Costner's directing prowess - from memory: "This film should have been titled 'Plays with Cameras'.
Goodnight, Pauline.
Jon
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[Edited last by Jon_Are on September 03, 2001 at 09:04 PM]
 

george kaplan

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The sad thing is that (based on all the reviews I ever read of hers) she died without ever seeing a movie she liked. Of course, maybe she did like one, anybody know? All I ever read from her was negative.

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Adam Lenhardt

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She liked some (admittedly very, very few). The only reason I remember this, was because any positive review of hers could turn box office around on a movie. For small praise from her was high praise indeed.
She was trully an original voice. She will be missed.
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Kevin Leonard

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I believe she was quite a fan of Brian De Palma's films. Don't quote me on that, though.
As one who has read books of her collected work, I admit that I more often than not disagreed with her reviews, but the writing was never boring and was often quite funny. A truly original voice.
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[Edited last by Kevin Leonard on September 03, 2001 at 10:26 PM]
 

Evan Case

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Sad news to hear.
Of all the film critics I've read, none were so effective at dismantling movies I loved than Pauline Kael.
Very frustrating sometimes (case in point: 2001 and the phrase "monumentally unimaginative"), but always in good fun.
To continue this thread's revelation of films Kael actually liked, I offer up a quartet of early Spielberg films: Sugarland Express, Jaws, Close Encounters, and E.T. (Incidentally, I have no idea how she viewed his post-80's films--anyone know?)
Evan
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Michael Reuben

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Of course, maybe she did like one, anybody know?
She championed Last Tango in Paris and was probably single-handedly responsible for getting the film shown in the U.S. As previously noted, she was a big fan of De Palma's; I particularly remember her passionate review of Casualties of War, which contains some of De Palma's finest and least appreciated work. She immediately grasped the visual originality of Steven Spielberg's early films and wrote appreciatively on Sugarland Express, Jaws and Close Encounters. She would even, on occasion, "adopt" a trifle like Dreamscape and treat it seriously.

She was that rare critic who was always worth reading, even when you thought she was dead wrong. Perhaps more than any other American critic, she got people thinking of film as an art form, and an important one.

M.
 

Stephen_M

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A true original and a legend. To those who have written that she didn't like anything, I forward you to read her glowing reviews of both Godfather films, Blow Out, Star Trek II, The Grifters, Dangerous Liaisons, My Beuatiful Laundrette, Shampoo, Stop Making Sense, and countless others of a wildly varying nature. Even when she didn't love a film, she often would rave about a sequence or a performance where her joy would find its way onto the printed page.
Even if you never agree with any of her reviews, they are always worth reading because Ms. Kael was, first and foremost, a superb writer. No other film critic was so influential and her legacy and stature in American film criticism is firmly cemented. Farewell, Pauline.
[Edited last by Stephen_M on September 04, 2001 at 11:03 AM]
 

Mitty

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Despite the fact that she drove me to fits by describing 2001: A Space Odyssey as the "biggest amateur movie of them all" or dismissed Raging Bull as "macho" and "banal," she also delighted me by saying about Saturday Night Fever, "These are among the most hypnotically beautiful pop dance scenes ever filmed" and generally loving it as a whole.
Having read a lot of her writings, I might predict how she would like one film or another, and invariably I would be wrong. She was the best example of what I hold as the first principle of criticism: that it must be interesting and entertaining in its own right, irrespective of whether it can be used as a basis on which to see or not see the movie.
She was truly an original.
 

Jon_Are

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From the link in the originating post above:
"Ms. Kael deeply admired films such as "Bonnie and Clyde," "Weekend," "The Godfather," "MASH," "The Garden of the Finzi Continis," and "Mean Streets." She likened "Last Tango in Paris" to "Rite of Spring," calling it "a departure from everything we've come to expect at the movies. ... the most powerfully erotic movie ever made, and it may turn out to be the most liberating movie ever made."
She also loved older films such as Jean Renoir's "La Grande Illusion," D.W. Griffith's "Intolerance," Preston Sturges' "Unfaithfully Yours" and the Marx Brothers' "Duck Soup."
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I also recall her first sentence in her review of 'Tootsie': "Marvelous fun."
Jon
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Scott Weinberg

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ReggieW

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I have only read a few of Ms. Kael's reviews, and must say that I probably disagreed with her more than any other living critic. Among the films she panned:
-Nearly all of Kubrick's films in which she totally misreads 2001: A Space Odyssey, imho.
-Malick's "Badland's"
-Scorsese's "Raging Bull"
-Lean's "Dr. Zhivago," in which she completely baffles me with her bizarre interpretation of the rainbow over the Dam at the films conclusion.
She hailed Brian DePalma as a genius? I like some of his films as well, but she obviously didn't see "Mission to Mars" or his dozen or so "homages" (i.e., rip-offs) to the master of suspense himself. Though some of DePalma's films were interesting, I seriously couldn't find much originality in many of his films, imho.
However, I am an advocate of free speech, and no one exercised this more in the profession of film critique than Pauline Kael. She will be missed.....
R.
 

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