The wonderful Pauline Kael
Salon has a terrific review up of “Afterglow: A Last Conversation With Pauline Kael” by Francis Davis. Allen Barra doen’t hide his affection for Kael, which is fine with me. Growing up in San Diego I lived just a few blocks from a little theater just three blocks from the beach, called the Roxy, where I coulld be found every Saturday afternoon watching a double feature with cartoons in between. I briefly studied film in college and spent most of my evenings at the Ken Cinema in Kensingtion, which was (and still is) an “art house” run by Landmark Theatres. But it wasn’t till I bought a copy of Kael’s Reeling with it’s reviews of Mean Streets, Nashville, The Long Goodbye, and Shampoo, that I learned to love the movies.
Like the best fiction, Kael’s reviews were completely immersive and made me feel that I was seeing and understanding something fresh, new, and important. Although there are many Kael detractors out there, I have never lost the feeling that she was the most important film reviewer of our time, as well as one of our best writers (along with John McPhee, Philip Roth, and Don DeLillo). All quality film writing begins from where she stopped.