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Tag: pauline kael
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Million Dollar Movie

Welcome to Stanley Kubrick Week on Million Dollar Movie.

Claire Quilty: I get the impression that you want to leave but you don’t like to because you think I think it looks suspicious, me being a policeman and all. You don’t have to think that because I haven’t got a suspicious mind at all. A lot of people think I’m suspicious, especially when I stand on street corners. One of our boys picked me up once. He thought that I was a little too suspicious standing on the street corner. Tell me, I couldn’t help noticing when you checked in tonight–It’s part of my job, I notice human individuals–and I noticed your face. I said to myself when I saw you, there’s a guy with the most normal-looking face I ever saw in my life. It’s great to see a normal face, ’cause I’m a normal guy. Be great for two normal guys to get together and talk about world events, in a normal way.

Peter Sellers is best remembered as Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther movies, but his artistic masterpiece is generally considered to be Dr. Strangelove. Sellers plays three characters in Stanley Kubrick’s dark, political satire. His performance is all that and them some and deserves all the praise it gets, but I believe Sellers’ accomplishment in Kubrick’s previous film, the 1962 adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s notorious book, Lolita, is just as fine—a comic actor at the height of his powers.

Sellers plays Claire Quilty, a pompous hipster playwright, the alter ego and nemesis to James Mason’s lustful professor, Humbert Humbert. “Are you with someone,” Humbert asks Quilty at one point. “I’m not with someone,” Quilty replies, “I’m with you.”

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She Lost it at the Movies

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:

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