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Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 27, 2011
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— The New Yorker (Reviewers' favorites)
“[A] smart and incisive biography…. [Moviegoers] are in for a colossal eye-opening. [Kael's] love for film has no present-day counterpart…. Mr. Kellow’s clear, independent view of his subject is his book’s most valuable surprise….Kael liked to disparage what she called ‘saphead objectivity.’ Bur Mr. Kellow is no saphead, and he makes objectivity a great virtue."
— Janet Maslin, The New York Times (Editors’ Choice)
"Mr. Kellow’s even-handed treatment gives us [Kael] in all her maddening overconfidence.”
— Scott Eyman, The Wall Street Journal
“This affectionate biography makes [Kael's] life and her passion for movies inseparable.”
— The Wall Street Journal (Recommended Gift)
“To appreciate Kael’s trailblazing, you have to see it in its broader context. Luckily, that backdrop is filled in with surefooted sophistication by Brian Kellow in Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark, a fair-minded and deeply reported Kael biography.”
— Frank Rich, The New York Times Book Review
“I fell on Kellow’s book like a teenage girl on a lost volume of the Twilight saga and found it quite as riveting as teens find anything to do with Bella.”
— Mary Pols, San Francisco Chronicle
“A smart and eminently readable examination of the life and career of one of the 20th century’s most influential movie critics.”
— Los Angeles Times.com
“[Kellow] brings a wise and sweeping vision to [Kael's] artistic mentality and her enduring legacy.”
— The Washington Times
“[A] terrific new biography… [Kael's early life ] was a revelation to me, thanks to Kellow’s ace research.”
“Fun, fair, and fluently written, [Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark] is an edifying read.”
— The Dallas Morning News
“Mr. Kellow throws a great deal of light on the famous critic’s heretofore mysterious ways.”
— The Portland Mercury
“In Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark, author Brian Kellow offers a making-of story as engaging as her criticism. It’s not easy feat—what’s less dramatic than scribbling into the night?—but Kellow tapped [Kael's] friends and foes and her writing while developing a colorful, even handed appreciation of one of film’s most influential critics….[An] eye-opening biography.”
— Associated Press
“The fact that most of us know little about [Kael's ] upbringing of her private life makes this an especially intriguing biography.”
— Leonard Maltin, Leonard Maltin.com
“Compelling…thrillingly written and exhaustively researched….Genius.”
— The Playlist
“Kellow evocatively captures the blooming of film culture in the early 1960s, and the sobriety with which Kael took over the critical pulpit….Kellow not only grasps the significance of his subject, but invokes the pace and energy of [Kael's] singular style….good, dishy fun.”
— The Village Voice
"Kellow has reconstructed Kael's 'life in the dark'....The result is a joy to read....[I]t's a fascinating book."
— Los Angeles Magazine (Critic's Picks, November 2011 Issue)
“[E]xhaustively researched, beautifully written….Kellow has told [Kael's] life in incredible detail….I found [Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark] enthralling because it vividly recreates a world I was part of, which seems now very distant. It is also because Kellow has been generous in quoting [Kael's] sensuous, percussive, often wise prose….Pauline was a galvanizing presence, and Kellow has brought her back with overwhelming intensity.”
— Howard Kissel, The Huffington Post
“Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark is a very good biography."
— Richard Schickel, Los Angeles Review of Books
"At last, a biography of the highly influential New Yorker film critic."
— San Francisco Chronicle
“The [present] I hope someone will send me is Brian Kellow’s Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark.”
— Philip French, The Observer (U.K.)
“Kellow matches extensive research with acute perception in his sensitive and definitive biography of Pauline Kael, America’s foremost, and most controversial, movie critic.”
— Booklist (Top 10 Arts Books 2011)
“Brian Kellow’s biography of [Pauline Kael] is a fascinating and enlightening read.”
— Whitney Matheson, USA Today
“[A] finely balanced biography…[N]ot only will you not be disappointed with Kellow’s intrepid research, you’ll also be rewarded by his rich, close reading of her reviews (and the stories behind the writing of them) that does marvelous justice to Pauline Kael’s exhilarating gift for writing on the movies. Both, her admirers and her detractors could not have asked for a more satisfying biography.”
— The Hindu
— Toronto Star
“[A] smashing first biography of the famed New Yorker critic.”
— The Buffalo News
— The Onion A.V. Club
“[A] richly detailed biography.”
“Throws radiant light on the renowned movie critic.”
— David Finkle, The Huffington Post
"[A] fascinating new biography….[Kellow] captures [Kael's] best passages and most heartless insults and puts them in context.”
— Laurie Winer, Los Angeles Review of Books
“[Brian] Kellow finds the emotional core of [Pauline] Kael’s persona….Kellow is quickly becoming a film fan’s dream biographer…. That Kellow chooses to write in calm, unshowy prose is both astute as a journalistic technique and integral to the book’s aesthetic success….Kellow’s Kael transcends mere artistic contrarianism and resembles a sort of impassioned duelist.”
“[A] rich, thorough, and admirably fair biography.”
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Top customer reviews
atmospheric background of the times when she was
reviewing movies. I never thought I could be so interested
in Pauline Kael's life but Brian Kellow has done a brilliant job.
The only inaccuracy I noticed was his misspelling of "My
Beautiful Laundrette" (He writes: "Launderette")
I don't think I learned more about her here than I did through her writings.
I miss those reviews and this book has reminded me of just how influential she was on my taste in movies and my writings.
The book is well researched but Pauline the Subject is not as interesting as Pauline the Writer.
Both serious movie buffs and cultural observers will find much to embrace here as Kael's writings on cinema often reflected the currents moving through the times, particularly the 1960s and 1970s. Kellow wisely lets Kael's contemporaries, friend and foe alike, tell much of the story. There are many great behind-the-scenes revelations here by such luminaries as Buck Henry, Peter Bogdanovich, Sidney Lumet, Sam Peckinpah, Elliot Gould, Roy Blount, Jr. and William Friedkin, to name a few.
As a biographer Kellow has no interest in hagiography. He doesn't shy away from Kael's missteps, both professionally and personally. Kael could be an unwavering champion of talent she believed in and she could be also be a devoted and beneficent mentor to younger acolytes. She could also be petty and vindictive, and, surprisingly, deceptive. One of the book's most startling revelations examines Kael's manipulation of a young academic to form one of her most celebrated essays "Raising Kane", a revisionist and controversial look at Orson Welles' masterpiece, "Citizen Kane". Apparently filching some salient points of this groundbreaking essay from her uncredited and unwitting academic collaborator, Kael displayed a disturbing lack of conscience when confronted on it. For those of us who came of age reading Pauline Kael as the ultimate diviner of all things cinematic, this troubling episode is one of several that reveal a darker side to her genius.
In short, Kellow's biography paints a nuanced and even-handed portrait of one of the twentieth century's most celebrated and influential cultural figures. As with Kellow's previous biographies of Ethel Merman, and Hollywood's famed Bennet sisters, the writing is crisp and the pacing vibrant. He skillfully reveals the very human and sometimes quietly tragic aspects of his subjects without resorting to salaciousness and sensationalism. Kellow is a biographer much too rare in my mind, in that his work is both entertaining and revelatory. This portrait of Pauline Kael is perhaps his strongest example of that yet.