Monday, May 27, 2013


1989, first edition, from Dutton
Pauline Kael
Probably bought newish for $14.95
Worn paperback

I found this more interesting and quotable than 1985's State of the Art.  In fact, I often think of her remark here that the good movies don't make you feel virtuous.  These movies are from '85 to '88, a time that she saw a gradual improvement in overall quality, so I'm guessing that's why she's "hooked," rather than more removed as she was earlier in the decade.  (1991 will offer Movie Love.)

As always, the snarky reviews are the most fun, from "Top Gun is a recruiting poster that isn't concerned with recruiting but with being a poster" to her parenthetical remark that the armies in Willow "are led by a Darth Vader-like giant in a death's-head mask, General Kael--an hommage à moi."  She often reports on audience reactions (general, as well as overheard comments, including from her viewing companions), which appeals to me because one of the reasons I like to go to the movies, especially to movies I've already seen, is to see how other people react.  And as ever, even when I disagree with her, I like seeing how her mind works.  (Even she can't convince me to see Blue Velvet though.)  She agrees with Kathi Maio more than I remembered (and not just on Fatal Attraction), although Kael is a good deal less politically correct (or even political).  Although transfolk would probably object to how she always refers to Divine as male, she is right on target about the appeal of Hairspray

A good collection, still pertinent, even if it's hard to imagine Helena Bonham Carter was ever so young and unformed as to "lack the presence of an actress; she's recessive."

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