Film Critic Pauline Kael Dies
September 5th, 2001
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pauline Kael, whose long and passionate movie reviews in the New Yorker mobilized and divided fans and filmmakers alike, died on Monday at her home in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, a spokeswoman for the magazine said.
Kael, who was 82, had Parkinson's disease, spokeswoman Perri Dorset said.
New Yorker editor David Remnick praised Kael for ''obliterating the wall between 'high' and 'low''' in the criticism she wrote for the magazine between 1968 and her retirement in 1991.
``With her reviews of films like 'Bonnie and Clyde' and 'Last Tango in Paris,' she shared her delight in both the sublime and the profane. She shaped American film criticism for generations to come and, more important, the national understanding of the movies,'' Remnick said in a statement.
Quotations From Kael's Reviews
By The Associated Press,
Some quotations from Pauline Kael reviews:
From her essay ``Trash, Art and the Movies,'' 1969: ``A good movie can take you out of your dull funk and the hopelessness that so often goes with slipping into a theater; a good movie can make you feel alive again, in contact, not just lost in another city. Good movies make you care, make you believe in possibilities again. If somewhere in the Hollywood-entertainment world someone has managed to break through with something that speaks to you, then it isn't all corruption. The movie doesn't have to be great; it can be stupid and empty and you can still have the joy of a good performance, or the joy in just a good line.''
On ``Breathless,'' 1961: ``The jazz score, the comic technique are perfectly expressive of the lives of the characters; the jump-cuts convey the tempo and quality of the activities of characters who don't work up to anything but hop from one thing to the next. And as the film seems to explain the people in their own terms, the style has the freshness of `objectivity.' It does seem breathlessly young, newly created.''
On '60s Westerns such as ``The War Wagon'' 1967: ``What makes it a `Western' is no longer the wide open spaces, but the presence of men like John Wayne, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, and Burt Lancaster, grinning with their big new choppers, sucking their guts up into their chests, and hauling themselves onto horses. They are the heroes of a new Western mythology: stars who have aged in the business, who have survived and who go on dragging their world-famous, expensive carcasses through the same old motions.''
On ``The Way We Were'' 1973: ```The Way We Were' is a fluke - a torpedoed ship full of gaping holes which comes smugly into port. There is just about every reason for this film to be a disaster: the cinematography is ugly; several scenes serve no purpose, and the big dramatic sequences come butting in, like production numbers, out of nowhere ... and it has the excruciating score of a bad forties movie. Yet the damned thing is enjoyable.''
On Woody Allen, from a review of ``Sleeper,'' 1973: ``He has the city-wise effrontery of a shrimp who began by using language to protect himself and then discovered that language has a life of its own. ... The tension between his insecurity and his wit makes us empathize with him; we, too, are scared to show how smart we feel.''
On ``The Exorcist'' 1974: ``Shallowness that asks to be taken seriously - shallowness like William Peter Blatty's - is an embarrassment. When you hear him on TV talking about communicating with his dead mother, your heart doesn't bleed for him, your stomach turns for him.''
On ``Ordinary People,'' 1980: ``Movie stars who become directors sometimes seem to choose their material as a penance for the frivolous good times they've given us. Paul Newman made `Rachel, Rachel' and now Robert Redford has made `Ordinary People,' which is full of autumn leaves and wintry emotions. It's an academic exercise in catharsis; it's earnest, it means to improve people, and it lasts a lifetime.''
On ``Diner,'' 1982: ``The sleaziest and most charismatic figure of the group is Boogie, played by Mickey Rourke, who was the young professional arsonist in `Body Heat.' With luck, Rourke could become a major actor: he has an edge and magnetism, and a sweet, pure smile that surprises you. He seems to be acting to you, and to no one else.''
On ``Return of the Jedi,'' 1983: ``If a filmmaker wants backing for a new project, there'd better be a video game in it. Producers are putting so much action and so little character or point into their movies that there's nothing for a viewer to latch on to. The battle between good and evil, which is the theme of just about every big fantasy adventure film, has become a flabby excuse for a lot of dumb tricks and noise.''
On ``Top Gun,'' 1986: ``What is this commercial selling? It's just selling, because that's what the producers, Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, and the director, Tony (Make It Glow) Scott, know how to do. Selling is what they think moviemaking is about. ... `Top Gun' is a recruiting poster that isn't concerned with recruiting but with being a poster.''