- 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: 26 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #681,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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For Keeps: 30 Years at the Movies Paperback – August 1, 1996
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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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The majority of movies are formulaic exercises aimed at reaching the widest possible audience, thus guaranteeing a profitable return on what is usually an investment running into many millions of dollars. Writing movie scripts, in turn, has become less of an adventure than a formal discipline yielding tired, predictable results that would make a Leni Riefenstahl propaganda film look like a personal, imaginative triumph by comparison. First, there was Syd Field's ubiquitous manual with its gospel-like litany of rules governing any screen-play, from the number of climaxes to their precise positioning; next came the computer programs for writing screenplays, most using a "fill-in-the-blank" approach following the same reductive pattern of the "hero's journey," one of the most popular latter-day Jungian archetypes. Thousands of screenplay hopefuls have been taught the same way--the opening scene, the importance and placement of the indispensable 'plot points," the kind of closure guaranteed to send the audience out of the theater more blinded by reality than ever but no less desirous of returning for another temporary escape. That's the "business" of the dream factory, and it would appear the reviewer's role has been reduced to little more than helping the reader decide if two dreams--the one that's been fabricated and the one that's awaiting illustration in the consumer's psyche--match up.
Kael knew the traditions, rules and restrictions of cinema, all of which contributed to heighten her awareness of the differences that really mattered--the moments of genuine spontaneity, serendipity, life. Not that movies should be servile "imitations of life," but Kael showed that a popular, collaborative art like film can be informed, insightful, life-affirming. Optimally, film is both "truth 24 frames per second" (Godard) and "a ribbon of dreams" (Orson Welles)--Hemingway's "lie that tells the truth," albeit on a grand, public scale. Kael was able to show how films like "Citizen Kane" combine sophisticated technique and technology with individual imagination and creativity to produce images filling a space that is best seen as a "screen-mirror." It tantalizes with images offering vicarious experiences; it provokes with images of startling self-recognition. It is at once the most individualized and the most archetypal of expressions, and we are served best by those rare films that affect us equally and simultaneously on both levels.
What impressed me about Pauline Kael (as well as Roger Ebert) was her ability to fully "get" the unique importance of "mavericks" like Robert Altman, and the sheer joy that any serious student of the cinema (and of life) must derive from viewing films as spontaneous and even extemporaneous yet imaginative and inspired as "Nashville." The images of such films remain indelibly imprinted on the viewer's "mindscreen" for many years, even decades, after they've left the celluloid screen. And therein lies the true brilliance and importance of film--not in cookie-cutter scripts, more formulas calculated to extract dollars from the masses, more and more special effects (that soon become affectless, numbing, anesthetic intervals)--but in playful and resourceful, informed and imaginative representations that simply refuse to be corrupted by the technology and business behind their making.
The present millennium at times seems light-years away from Kael's era, yet certain films--perhaps "There Will Be Blood"--serve as reminders that visionary temperaments such as hers are still here--behind the screen and even, if only rarely, on it. It helps to have teachers like Kael, if only to catch those rare, infrequent glimpses of a popular entertainment becoming for just a moment--and in the moment--the most vital art of all.
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