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For Keeps: 30 Years at the Movies Paperback – August 1, 1996

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Editorial Reviews Review

For Keeps is a dazzling anthology of reviews and essays by Pauline Kael, America's most important movie critic. This hefty book contains a fifth of Kael's total output. It reprints all of her most famous reviews, including her controversial treatments of Last Tango in Paris, The Long Goodbye, and Nashville. Also here are some of her best longer essays, "Movie Brutalists," "Trash, Art, and the Movies," and &quoy;Cary Grant: the Man from Dream City." Raising Kane, Kael's book-length revisionist view of Citizen Kane, is reproduced in its entirety. Kael's style is impassioned, incisive, witty, and deeply personal. In the preface to this extraordinary volume, Kael says, "I'm frequently asked why I don't write my memoirs. I think I have." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this mammoth anthology, former New Yorker film critic Kael skims the cream from 10 of her previous review compilations published between 1965 and 1991, adding a generous excerpt from The Citizen Kane Book (1971). In more than 275 pointed, wisecracking, sometimes maddening, always engaging reviews, Kael deflates pretensions, skewers schlock and zeroes in on what makes good movies work. She files opinionated, often politically incorrect put-downs of Dances with Wolves, Platoon, Rain Man, Fellini Satyricon, West Side Story, The Color Purple and Lenny, while revealing her eclectic, unpredictable taste in plaudits for Lolita, Prizzi's Honor, Tootsie, Z, The Magic Flute and My Beautiful Laundrette. Kael resolutely approaches film as an art form that must be understood on its own terms, yet her reviews depict precisely how movies interact with life, popular culture and the collective psyche, making this a treasure trove of some of the best film criticism available. First serial to the New Yorker.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1312 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; 1st edition (September 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452273080
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452273085
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 2 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #284,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on January 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Pauline Kael and movie criticism was at its height when American and foreign movies were at their height. The two go hand in hand. The high quality of the movies of the time made for inspired debate. But even given the fortunate circumstance to be writing at such a time she still stands out because she brings to her criticism not just an appreciation of film but an appreciation of art in all its forms. She is one of the few critics who can discuss Lolita or Women in Love or Sheltering Sky or Unbearable Lightness of Being as both literary work and film. She never really limits herself to being an expert on film, she always seems to be coming from some other expertise (like literature) and so she brings an authority and perhaps legitamacy to film criticism by talking about films in a way usually reserved for books. She believes more than anything else in the potential for film to be great, perhaps as great as literature, and I think her reviews are attempts to do her part in lifting the art form. Her belief in Bertolucci as one of films geniuses for instance is undiminished by the fact that she doesn't seem to like many of his films(Last Tango excepted). She is at her best when reviewing a great film like Altman's McCabe and Mrs. Miller, or Truffaut's Story of Adele H. at which time one can only sit back and listen as she is nothing short of inspired, ecstastic, and it is infectious. It is dissappointing that film never achieved the status she had in mind for it and she was dissappointed at the direction the art form went. her later reviews are still good but really the spark was gone by 75 or 76. She presided over what might be films greatest period(67-75). While the great directors were producing their best work she was the one who understood them first, so she will always be equated with that period, not merely a critic but a champion of an art form.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Augustus Caesar, Ph.D. on December 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
Love her or hate her (or both), it cannot be denied that Pauline Kael was the most important, witty, insightful, maddening, funny, infuriating, exhilirating and incisive movie critic of all time. For me, the only critic that equals her is her antithesis, the great Stanley Kauffmann. Kael burst upon the scene in the 1960s (though her first review appeared in 1953) and movie criticism has never been the same since. With her conversational, waspish prose style and absolute belief in the rightness of her convictions, Kael had a talent for inspiring both intense debate and intense thought. Her reviews were often more anticipated than the movies she wrote about. Her retirement in 1991 due to Parkinson's was a great loss for both movies and American literature: she was definitely one of the great essayists of the 20th century.
"For Keeps" is the definitive one volume Kael collection. From some of her earliest 1950s reviews to her last reviews for The New Yorker in 1991, virtually every important essay she ever wrote is here. Her most famous and controversial reviews (on "Nashville," "Last Tango in Paris," "The Godfather" and "Stardust Memories") are all included, as well as her legendary "Citizen Kane" essay, "Raising Kane." While Kael was an intellectual, writing for a (presumably) literate and educated audience, she was no cinema snob. Her joy in movies extended from Ingmar Bergman to "The Spy Who Loved Me."
This is one of the great books on film ever published and a must have for any movie fan.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jason P. Gubbels on May 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
It's said that what distinguishes a great critic from a good critic is that a great critic's work will stand on its own, even after the material he or she has written about has faded away, been forgotten, or lost appeal. Kael's writing is of the great kind - truly memorable and insightful, even when removed from the context of cinema.
This is a huge book, and one the reader should dip into, not read straight through. But what is contained within the pages is some of the most intelligent, passionate, and controversial ideas about movies available. I don't want to suggest that Kael is middle of the road, because she ceratinly isn't, but what her makes her unique (and quite enjoyable) is that she neither plays to the lowest common denominator nor plays to the elitist crowd. She is staunchly, proudly, individualistic, and if lowbrows may be offended by her criticisms of popular favorites, highbrows will be just as outraged at her scathing dismissals of pompous auteurs. On one hand, Kael lambasts "West Side Story" and refers to "The Sound of Music" as the Sound of Mucus, but on the other hand, she calls Fellini on his pretentions, trashes Kubrick's "2001" as an "amateur movie," and yawns her way through Wim Wenders' angel extravaganza. Such dismissals can come as a shock to the well-meaning film enthusiast, but the trashing of sacred cows is refreshing as well as disturbing.
But there's so much more to this book than cheap shots. If Kael hates the films that fail to measure up to her standards, she adores those that do, and page after page is filled with warm praise regarding some of the finest cinematic works to grace screens since the mid-1960's.
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