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The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael Hardcover – October 27, 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Pauline Kael was not only one of our greatest film critics, but one of our best nonfiction prose writers. Her range is on brilliant display in this thrilling collection, reminding us what all the excitement was and still is about." — Phillip Lopate

About the Author

Pauline Kael reached national attention in the 1960s, first in a brief stint as critic for The New Republic, finally as a longtime fixture at The New Yorker (1968-1991). She was considered by many to be the most influential American film critic of the last 50 years. She died in September of 2001.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 750 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America; F First Edition edition (October 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598531093
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598531091
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #996,389 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It is infuriating that Kael's criticism -- deeply personal and yet accessible and even commercial -- is given yet another partial treatment.

If Library of America is going to archive Kael's work and place her within the canon with other great Library of America authors, they should publish all of her works in quality bindings. Instead we have a rather sad book here which is bound in a rather mediocre way.

The amazing thing about Kael is that she reviewed all sorts of stuff for a long period of time -- major hits, cinematic masterpieces, failed films, and the general all-purpose stuff that Hollywood churns out every year. Seeing her takes on minor and forgotten films can be as enlightening as her holding forth at length about Citizen Kane or Disney. For she was a critic, yes, but also a sort of de facto movie beat reporter.

Most of Kael's work (all of it perhaps?) can be tracked down in a series of paperbacks. And the best Kael collection remains the collection titled For Keeps which is a big ol' heavy book, a book so full of Kael's brain power that many of the copies have twisted spines or don't want to lie flat.
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Format: Hardcover
I am hating this book enormously, plainly because the editor's selections from Kael's writings miss the mark enormously in terms of reflecting how Kael mattered. And, she did matter, Kael waa probably one of the most important and influential women (of whatever occupation) from the late 60s through the 1970s. Kael truly hit her writing stride during that period, and she was blessed to have grabbed her crown during a period of incredibly important filmmaking. I fear that newcomers to Kael who pick up this book will end up saying a big ho-hum due to the lousy editing choices. The omissions (and I know her work well) are staggering: no review of Streisand's early films??? (long, insightful pieces on Streisand on all of Funny Girl, The Owl and the Pussycat, The Way We Were, and even a rave for Hello Dolly! Or the editor could have gone with Kael's review of A Star is Born, where she dresses down Barbra right and left. Where are the important reviews of 70s masterpieces, e.g., Chinatown, Klute, Carrie, The China Syndrome, Cabaret, The Exorcist, Hannah and Her Sisters, Close Encounters, The Conversation, Three Women). Where are the reviews of wonderful gems of films bound to be overlooked, such as Smile, Choose Me, Men Don't Leave. Where the heck is a review of a Ken Russell film - Kael wrote extensively on his films, and loved some of them and detested others. Where are the "fun" reviews like Mommie Dearest? Where is the caustic wit of Kael (when describing a Liza Minnelli film and that Liza began the film at full throttle with nowhere to head up, Kael wrote "What's (Liza) going to do for an encore? Eat the audience?"

Glaring omissions - Ellen Burstyn. Meryl Streep post Deer Hunter. Holly Hunter. Jon Voight. Julie Andrews. Sean Connery. Kathleen Turner. Joanne Woodward. Disney.
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Format: Hardcover
With some exceptions, this is a collection of Kael's favorable reviews and longer think pieces (including her excellent essay on Cary Grant).

Among critics, it's generally said that favorable reviews are harder to write than unfavorable ones, and Kael was particularly gifted at the rave. So all in all this isn't a bad selection and editor Sanford Schwartz has done a good job, and taken an interesting approach, in the space he was given.

As other reviewers have said, the binding is cheap and bad (FOR KEEPS' binding is just as bad and works out even worse, because it has more bulk). But the pages and design here are good, and it's nice to have THE KAEL OF POSITIVE THINKING. Even at that, enough negativity remains to keep everything spicy. The book includes, for example, "Why are Movies So Bad? or, The Numbers," and her review of MAGNUM FORCE, which begins, "Clint Eastwood isn't offensive; he isn't an actor, so one could hardly call him a bad actor."
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Pauline Kael was one of the few film critics who made a serious effort to place movies their larger cultural context. She suceeded admirably. She was one of the few critics who recognized the importance of ``Bonnie and Clyde'' before it was released; was an early supporter of Martin Scorsese, but was not afraid to criticize him when she thought he overreached; saw through the pretension Kubrick's ``Clockwork Orange'' and ``2001''; and loved Truffaut, whom I had never bothered with until I read Kael, and he is now one of my favorite directors. She also wrote cogently and well about the direction of Hollywood, and while she was looking at film in search of high art, whe was not afraid to admit enjoying films that didn't meet the standards of high art, but were nevertheless enjoyable. Essential reading for film buffs.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'd actually read very little of Kael's reviews, but after dipping into this volume from time to time -- hoping that her views on film would evolve into something less conservative and (frankly) pedestrian -- I found myself constantly disappointed. And I'm still regretting shelling out big bucks for the hardcover version.

If ONLY the LOA had picked a book like, say, HARLAN ELLISON'S WATCHING -- which presents film reviews in the context of essays (which digress, but still come back to the original point) about society and America -- that would have been SO much more entertaining and enlightening! This lady doesn't even dig Hitchcock enough to afford him much attention. How she became so revered in her time is (as they say in a refrain from "Shakespeare in Love") a mystery.
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