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Review: What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael

My first experience with reading film criticism was with my mother’s New Yorker magazines. Most of what was in the magazine was too highbrow for me as an adolescent, but the film reviews by Pauline Kael were such fun to read. She was opinionated and frequently went against the consensus of the other critics who were mostly male. She had a voice that set her apart, seeing films as if she were in the audience not separated from them. This new documentary made me appreciate her even more. She was a feminist, having fought to get her foot into the boys’ club that was the film critics’ world of the 50s and 60s. She had encyclopedic knowledge of movies and wasn’t afraid to say when she thought something was derivative or a filmmaker was being repetitive, something she saw a lot in the beloved “auteur” directors of the 60s. She was loved by many and hated by many others. But even the haters admitted that she was a hell of a writer!

And the Award goes to…

It has begun. The film awards season is upon us. The Academy Awards aren’t until March 7, but in the past couple of days, the film societies have begun releasing their picks for 2009. (The Oscar nominations don’t come out until Feb. 2.) Now, I really wish I’d seen The Hurt Locker when it was here, but I blinked and missed it. There seem to be a lot of nominees and/or winners that have not come out yet, or have only opened in limited release. I guess that is the way they always do it, so the voters remember the films.  But it makes it hard for those of us not in LA or NY to know if they are right when we haven’t been able to see the films yet. Then again, it makes the holiday film season all the more fun, trying to see all the nominees in theaters in the coming weeks.