When I was a teenager, the film critic Pauline Kael was one of my idols. I loved her reviews. Even when I disagreed with her I learned something new. I felt sure that I could predict which movies she’d like and which ones she’d trash, but I was never that sure. She was always surprising. She was crazy for movies and wanted to be overwhelmed by them. She wrote sprawling reviews. They were always something to look forward to.
In the late ’80s, she fell ill, and I wrote her a note, saying, in effect that she could not die before she had the chance to review my first movie. Weeks later, I received a postcard with scrawled handwriting on one side–“It wasn’t the prospect of reviewing your first movie that laid me so low, although something sure as hell did. Good luck, Pauline Kael.” She retired from the New Yorker not long after that.
Her reviews were also condensed into blurbs in the front of the New Yorker. Here is a random selection, sure, as always, to raise an eyebrow, make someone furious, and perhaps turn your head too.
It’s a rainy day in New York. Enjoy: