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I Lost it at the Movies Paperback – January 1, 1994

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Editorial Reviews Review

Published in 1965, this is Pauline Kael's first book. It is at once her most uncharacteristic volume of essays and one of her most interesting. Rather than trace recent movie openings on a week-by-week basis, Kael here recalls classics by Ophuls, Renoir, and Bergman and comments on some of the international masterpieces of the early '60s. She also meditates on the state of the art in provocatively titled pieces like "Are Movies Going to Pieces?," "Fantasies of the Art House Audience," and "Is There a Cure for Film Criticism?" Few movie reviewers of any generation can match her wit or intelligence. And almost no one can equal her passion for an art that had such an indelible impact upon her life; Kael's treatment of Vittorio De Sica's masterpiece Shoeshine is perhaps the most intimate and beautiful movie review ever written.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd (January 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714529753
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714529752
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #372,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By R. Rice on March 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
I grew up reading Pauline Kael's reviews, mostly by walking to the public library in the small town where I grew up -- I'd snag the New Yorker off the shelf and immerse myself in what she had to say about movies, many of which would never come to my town. But I was enthralled.

I love her reviews now for the same reason I loved them then -- she makes me want to see the movies she writes about. And more than that, she makes me want to see movies, period. Her passion for the medium -- even when she doesn't like a film -- is contagious, and she expresses it beautifully.

Surprisingly to me, in these early reviews she frequently quotes the reviews of other critics and then mercilessly takes apart what they have said. She particularly has it in for the New York Times' Bosley Crowther, but she doesn't let others off the hook easily, either.

Kael is fun to read, even if you haven't seen the movie she is talking about. I've never seen "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone", though I have seen "Suddenly Last Summer" -- both based on works of Tennessee Williams. But Kael's 1961 review of "Mrs. Stone" is a hilarious read. In one part, she says:

"The men who filmed 'The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone' seem to think the idea of an aging woman seeking companionship and love so daring and unusual that they fumble around with it almost as much as the doctor in the screen version of 'Suddenly, Last Summer', who couldn't seem to cope with the simple facts of Sebastian's homosexuality and kept saying, 'You DON'T mean THAT?'-- 'No, it CAN'T be THAT?' -- 'WHAT are you saying?' -- 'What do you MEAN?' I assumed the youngest child in the audience would get the point before he did. By trying so diligently to make Mrs.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Liebe on October 30, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book, along Kael's 5001 NIGHTS AT THE MOVIES (capsule reviews) and its sister collection DEEPER INTO MOVIES as a used book b/c it's out-of-print(!), after getting into an online discussion about movies...and realizing the "critics" being bruited about were Rex Reed and Ain't It Cool News! When I mentioned Kael, who I'd read in THE NEW YORKER from the mid-Seventies through the Nineties along with owning copies of all her collections up to REELING from my college days, I got a lot of "Who's she, anyway?" Since my college collection of Kael paperbacks had long since succumbed to age or being lost while moving, I realized it was past time to start repurchasing them.

Simply put, Pauline Kael ranks alongside James Agee, Manny Farber, Dorothy Parker, Andrew Sarris and Frank Rich as one of the greatest American critics of the Twentieth Century. Unlike too many "movie reviewers" who think a snappy quip is all that's required, Kael gave intense analysis even to films she disliked intensely, so that her judgements were highly nuanced and thought through. Her insight into the shift in filmmaking and film consumption in the mid-late Twentieth Century, coupled with understanding of earlier movie eras, helps clarify the Sixties American switch from "movies" to "cinema"...and back again during the Reagan Eighties. She was a lifelong "movie lover" with the intelligence to comprehend the meaning of non-mainstream "cinema" - and the wisdom to know when its praise was earned, and when it was just pseudointellectual cliquishness.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 14, 1997
Format: Paperback
Pauline Kael was a prophet of the times: she knew that people would eventually be addicted to the movies. But she was perceptive enough to realize from the onset that this addiction went beyond the inescapable, because grippingly overwhelming, magic of storytelling. She understood that movies were addictive because not only do they take on a life of their own, they also created a world of their own --- cult worship, technology wizardry, critical discourse, the vagaries of box-office results, and all that jazz. These Ms. Kael grasped, and armed with her stylish wit and whip, she rallied on to the cultural battlefronts of what would turn out to be our multi-media age. This book is therefore a must-read, because beyond the disparate individual movie reviews, Ms. Kael allows us to appreciate the intellectual and moral landscape of our times. She shows us that behind things are the more important scheme of things. For her, the reel is for real. And these days, who can say it isn't so
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