Pauline Kael on mp3
February 23, 2006 11:29 AM   Subscribe

"This recording of Pauline Kael delivering a talk at San Fernando Valley State College sometime in 1963 does closely follow her essay Circles and Squares. But even if you're familiar with the work in question, her tone of voice and formal delivery make these 55-minutes a genuinely nasty, invective-laden eye-opener". (via flickhead)
posted by PenguinBukkake (31 comments total)

 
Man alive, Pauline had some teeth. Thanks for the link.
posted by milquetoast at 12:00 PM on February 23, 2006


Never understood Pauline Kael worship. I think it's related to another malady, New Yorker worship, which, in turn, is related to the disease known as "Upper Westside Provincialism."
posted by MarshallPoe at 12:01 PM on February 23, 2006


Wow. I wanted to find out what this link was about, but I couldn't stand to read the white text on the black background. Honestly, I squinted and tried, but couldn't do it.

Anyone care to briefly summarize?
posted by dammitjim at 12:12 PM on February 23, 2006


dammitjim, try highlighting whole blocks of text. It's the only way to read it - I don't usually have trouble with white text on black field, but the font size and spacing are just right to make it hard on the eyes.

Anyway, I always thought Pauline Kael was a bit of a relic - a product of a time when film criticism was the route du jour for elitist intellectual blowhards to vent their disgust at American culture. Now of course, anyone with a blog, a well-honed critical eye and a witty way with words can write Kael and her ilk under the table. Her royal highness Ms. Kael would not, I think, have approved...
posted by slatternus at 12:33 PM on February 23, 2006


Now of course, anyone with a blog, a well-honed critical eye and a witty way with words can write Kael and her ilk under the table.

Oh, of course. After all, people in Kael's time were like children, barely literate. They didn't have blogs to hone their writing to the diamond-hard perfection that is commonplace nowadays.

Perhaps I should stop being the sarcasm and simply state that this strikes me as one of the more ridiculous comments I've heard in a very, very long time. Don't like Kael? Whatever. But you can't deny that the woman had decades of filmgoing and analysis behind her, an uncanny memory (she only saw movies once, without notes, yet remembered dialogue verbatim years later), Wallace Shawn as an editor and an intense audience ready with counterarguments throughout her career.

But, yeah, a blogger with a "witty way with words" trumps all that. Ye gods.

p.s.: There's nothing, absolutely nothing in Kael's writing about the "disgust at American culture." If anything, she was much harder on European pretensions and preferred American junk to art films.
posted by argybarg at 12:40 PM on February 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


Oh settle down and take your pills like the nice doctor said argybarg. How is what Harry Knowles does any less valid that what Pauline kael did. And if encyclopedic knowledge of film is the measure of one's right to be taken as an authority, then Knowles wins hands down.
posted by slatternus at 12:47 PM on February 23, 2006


???
posted by PenguinBukkake at 12:52 PM on February 23, 2006


What does Harry Knowles have to do with this conversation, again?
posted by jimmy at 12:55 PM on February 23, 2006


How is what Harry Knowles does any less valid that what Pauline kael did.

Pauline Kael had better analysis, a richer set of comparisons, a keener eye for detail, a more mature aesthetic and vastly superior writing skills.
posted by argybarg at 1:04 PM on February 23, 2006


Knowles is the Pauline Kael of our generation. Eveybody knows that.

Which is why we should all die and I hope we burn in hell.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:04 PM on February 23, 2006


P.S.: Read any Pauline Kael? Honest now.
posted by argybarg at 1:05 PM on February 23, 2006


Knowles is an entertainment news reporter and film buff, and maybe even a film reviewer, but not a critic. If he's representative of anything nowadays, it's of synopsizers being mistaken for, and taking the place of, critics.
posted by unmake at 1:18 PM on February 23, 2006


How is what Harry Knowles does any less valid that what Pauline kael did.

Oh, please. I appreciate Knowles's love of movies and enthusiasm, but he can't write an English sentence and his film criticism has barely progressed past, "Wow, that was really cool!" or "Man, that sucked!" Even when I disagreed with her opinion of a movie, her reviews made me see things in them that I would have never understood on my own. And she was no snob, I seem to remember her giving a good review to Kurt Russel's Used Cars.
posted by octothorpe at 1:18 PM on February 23, 2006


Ditto argybarg!

I mean one of Kael's favorite directors was Brian De Palma!
posted by kensanway at 1:19 PM on February 23, 2006


Pauline Kael had better analysis, a richer set of comparisons, a keener eye for detail, a more mature aesthetic and vastly superior writing skills.

Pauline Kael also never tried to describe Guillermo Del Toro's directorial work on Blade 2 in as "going down on the audience", complete with a lurid description of his directorial cunnilingus.

Comparing Pauline Kael and Harry Knowles is like comparing apples and vomit.
posted by Spatch at 1:30 PM on February 23, 2006


What if you vomit apples?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:34 PM on February 23, 2006


Apple-flavored vomit, duh.
posted by davidmsc at 1:40 PM on February 23, 2006


It was Wallace's father, William, who edited Kael, I believe.
posted by ltracey at 1:48 PM on February 23, 2006


Inconthievable!

You know, Kael has a reputation for championing trashy filmmakers, but I find her tastes in trash to be rather quotidian. The most exciting American cinema of the Seventies was being shows at the grindhouses of Times Square, but she peered down her nose at them.

She looked askance, I tells ya!
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:06 PM on February 23, 2006


From the nybooks link: In 1967 The New Yorker was the most successful magazine in America.

Was that true? Was a literary magazine with no photographs the most successful magazine in America forty years ago? If that's true then we've sunk farther and faster then I thought.
posted by octothorpe at 2:09 PM on February 23, 2006


Pauline Keel was a fan of Brian De Palma? And she expects to be taken seriously?
posted by Vaska at 2:12 PM on February 23, 2006


And she hated Clint Eastwood.
AND she loved Warren Beatty.

PS. Great to see "If Charlie Parker..." on the blue!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:21 PM on February 23, 2006


Three words: Joe Bob Briggs.
posted by MarshallPoe at 3:00 PM on February 23, 2006


"How is what Harry Knowles does any less valid that what Pauline kael did."

Umm... Pauline Kael never took payola. Oh, and she wasn't a moron. But I suppose if you happen to be a moron, that distinction isn't worth as much.

Thanks, Penguin, this is a great link.
posted by klangklangston at 3:17 PM on February 23, 2006


Thanks for this. I love Kael ardently. She was one of Bill Murray's greatest admirer's, and I've often wondered what she'd think of his recent streak of acting in non-comedic films. Can't wait to listen to the mp3.
posted by painquale at 3:43 PM on February 23, 2006


Interesting and informative thread, nice FPP PenguinBukkake, thank you.
posted by nickyskye at 10:13 PM on February 23, 2006


oh yes, in case I'm not the only one who didn't know what the "auteur theory" is (main topic of the Kael mp3), from Wikipedia.
posted by nickyskye at 10:23 PM on February 23, 2006


Really nice post, Mr. Bukkake - cheers.

And congratulations to slatternus, a valuable lesson to us all on the desirability of knowing what the fuck you're talking about before typing.
posted by flashboy at 4:52 AM on February 24, 2006


I listened to the mp3 driving home last night, finishing it on the drive to work this AM. What a great voice she had. And going back to the comments about Harry Knowles, she rips into critics with teenage boy sensibilities who embrace what she calls "junk art". She was talking about writers from the early sixties but if you didn't know the context you might think she was talking about contemporary fan boys like Knowles.

Great post, I'll have to go back and read some of her essays.
posted by octothorpe at 6:28 AM on February 24, 2006


And going back to the comments about Harry Knowles, she rips into critics with teenage boy sensibilities who embrace what she calls "junk art". She was talking about writers from the early sixties but if you didn't know the context you might think she was talking about contemporary fan boys like Knowles.

well:
Do you miss having a forum to share your perceptions with readers?

Sharing is a nice way of putting it. I loved writing about things when I was excited about them. It's not fun writing about bad movies. I used to think it was bad for my skin. It's painful writing about the bad things in an art form, particularly when young kids are going to be enthusiastic about those things, because they haven't seen anything better, or anything different. I mean, if you were writing about "The Perfect Storm," you would have to consider that for many kids it's the first time they've ever seen something like that, and they're all excited about it, and all of their buttons have been pushed. They're going to be very angry if they read a review by someone who doesn't respond to it. I got a lot of that kind of mail from young moviegoers, high-school and college kids, who couldn't understand why I wasn't as excited about things like "The Towering Inferno" as they were. And there are "Towering Inferno"s coming out all the time. The people on television who got excited last week about "The Patriot" are getting excited this week about "X-Men," and they'll get excited next week about something else. But if you write critically you have to do something besides get excited. You have to examine what's in front of you. What you see is a movie industry in decay, and the decay gets worse and worse.
posted by PenguinBukkake at 7:25 AM on February 24, 2006


PenguinBukkake, I listened to the mp3 last night, just read the New Yorker article you linked to and enjoyed Kael's insights thoroughly. Thanks again.
posted by nickyskye at 10:11 AM on February 24, 2006


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