Tuesday, October 18, 2011


From The New York Times
Mad About Her: Pauline Kael, Loved and Loathed

Robin Holland/Corbis Outline
Pauline Kael, the longtime New Yorker critic, in 1986. She is the subject of a new biography, “Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark.”
Published: October 14, 2011

THE longtime New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael didn’t just write about movies — she made it seem as if they were worth fighting about. Nearly 20 years after her retirement and a decade after her death, she remains an often polarizing figure. On Oct. 27, the Library of America will publish “The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael,” followed four days later by the publication of “Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark,” a sometimes surprising biography by Brian Kellow, from Viking. A. O. Scott and Manohla Dargis discuss her work and its legacy.

MANOHLA DARGIS I was talking to a critic friend recently who, with a sigh of regret, mentioned what he characterized as the assault on critical authority. This isn’t a new topic for professional opinionators like us: in the age of Rotten Tomatoes, with its hundreds of reviewers weighing in on new movies, and Yelp, where nonprofessionals thrust their thumbs up or down, the idea that critics don’t have the say they once had has been much discussed during the Great Decline (of critical influence, the publishing industry, the economy). The notion that critics once had power is certainly one of the selling points on the jacket for the Kael biography, which states that during her time at The New Yorker (1968-91) she “became the most widely read, the most influential, the most powerful, and, often enough, the most provocative critic in America.”

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