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Sunday, 8 January 2012

Pauline Kael

I've been reading all about American film critic Pauline Kael, New Yorker current cinema columnist from 1968-1991, in James Wolcott's mesmerizing new memoir Lucking Out: My Life Getting Down and Semi-Dirty in Seventies New York. Wolcott was a good friend of Kael's, a fellow writer, decades her junior, and he portrays her with the respect of a protege. When writing of Kael and his experiences with her in the back rows of dark theaters and in hotel lounges, sites of post-screening discussions, Wolcott's metaphor heavy prose lifts, becomes crisp, kind. His introduction to Kael has me intrigued. Here's an important, imposing figure in film history (and female! I'm a feminist sucker like that) of whom two weeks ago I knew nothing about. Publishing synchronicity: Brian Fellow's biography Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark has also just come out. Fellow's book is a traditional biography, about an interesting life lived from 1919 to 2001, but which can't help being, because of Kael's influence and taste making, a history of movies in the 20th century. Look for Kael's own books, collections of her criticism, in the store soon! And you should probably also come pick up Lucking Out, it's so good.

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