To Kael or Not to Kael?
To be candid, I haven’t read much of Pauline Kael’s work. Her retirement from The New York predates my own reading of that magazine by a few years, so I didn’t have the chance to encounter her work organically. As someone who cares about movies and writing about movies, I dutifully procured battered copies of Reeling and I Lost it at the Movies, but… well, I didn’t get very far. To hear about Paulien Kael or to read about Pauline Kael gets me very jazzed to read her work, but when I sit down to actually read, it falls apart for me.
From what I have read, I don’t dislike Kael or her writing style, per se. It’s just that, ultimately, I’m not very involved in the movies she writes about. For a laundry list of reasons, I cut myself off cinematically sometime around 1967. Which is not to say that object to post-1967 movies, nor that I’ve never seen any, but it’s not where my interests lie. The laundry list of reasons for my post-1967 ban, some arbitrary, some justified, is probably the subject of another post. But suffice it to say, this is why I’ve largely missed out on Pauline Kael.
I do feel like I’ve missed out, though. Again, what I know, what I hear, and hell, even what I’ve read intrigues me. With the publication of the new critical biography Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark by Brian Kellow and a new Library of America collection of Kael’s work The Age of Movies, I’m once again intrigued. Maybe reading about Pauline Kael is an entree into her work? I’ve been reading some reviews and toying around with buying the bio, but I wonder… has anyone read it yet?
- Here’s Dana Stevens review from Slate, “When Pauline Kael was Wrong.”
- “What She Said” in the Critic at Large section of The New Yorker.
- “The 70’s, As Dramatic as a Movie” at The New York Times.
- “The Perils of Reading About Pauline Kael” from Time.
- A brief excerpt from the bio at Indiewire.
How do you guys feel about Pauline Kael’s writing, in general? Have you read this book or are you thinking of reading it? Know any good reviews? Let me know if the comments!