And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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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!

Review: Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché

She was there at the very beginning of the film industry. She directed hundreds of popular films and built her own studio that rivaled all the others of the day. She wrote and produced her films in Europe and the US. And yet, few filmmakers today know about her. Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché aims to correct that oversight. Guy wasn’t just the first female filmmaker, she was the first person to make a narrative film. When the moving picture was invented, it was used to shoot daily life or documentary, but she was the first to see the potential for stories to entertain. And because she was a woman, despite her groundbreaking work, she was lost to history. But no longer!

Review: The Great Buster

The full title of this documentary is The Great Buster: A Celebration and it certainly is that. From Dick Van Dyke to Mel Brooks to Werner Herzog, silent film star Buster Keaton aka The Great Stone Face is lauded for his enduring influence on film and comedy. This comprehensive bio-pic is from director Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show, Paper Moon) who loves telling the stories of the great men of cinema. And Keaton surely was one of the greats. The film is a fairly straightforward chronological telling of his life and career featuring lots of talking heads and film clips from his movies. For those who are unfamiliar with his work, the film will no doubt make them want to see his work. And for those who already knew him, it’s a loving reminder of a man way ahead of his time.