Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Invective of Pauline Kael

This appreciation of Pauline Kael ought to be read by anybody who loves the movies (i.e. all of us.). One does not have to agree with Kael much (perhaps even most) of the time to realize that she was one of those rare critics to elevate criticism to an art in itself. No American critic in any artform was as read (or as feared) in their heyday as Kael was in her's. She was often lambasted (not least by her colleagues) as a bile-spewing flamethrower who had only irrational loves and irrational hatreds. But tasteful, proper writing never did anybody any favors. If we can't feel an individual personality, with preferences and irritants behind the words, what reason is there to read that writer's writing? Reading her pieces today can often be as edifying as they must have been thirty-five years ago when she was the herald of American film's rebirth (the Romantic age, if you will). And who can possibly not love her (correct) take on A Clockwork Orange?

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