Wednesday, December 24, 2014

the contrarian

A pronouncement.

There are possibly more bad movie critics than there are bad movies.

An exaggeration?

I think not.  But I do know that I wish Pauline Kael was still around to prick the delusional balloons of opinions that current critics and would-be critics pass among one another as if those shared assessements were irrefutable, the final word on exactly what's good or not about movies.

I miss her decisive/devisive voice from Great Barrington.

The original contrarian, Pauline would approach films in two different ways.  If she favored a movie, she would make sure that her opinion got out there first, efficiently influencing lesser educated, unsure reviewers.

Who followed like sheep every time.

But if she disliked a particular movie, she'd wait and, when enough time had gone by and enough praise had been doled out by those aforementioned reviewers, Pauline would stage a surprise attack, deflating the foolish, premature enthusiasm and wising up those who dared to air it.

Based on her unpredictable track record, I've a hunch that possibly, just possibly, she would have preferred Ridley Scott's "The Counsellor" (2013) to Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel" (2014), that she would have reserved judgment, unlike her peers, on Benedict Cumberbatch, and that she might have chided Chris Rock for trying to be Woody Allen when he is so much better at being Chris Rock.  But what I'd really like to read is what she would have written about Alejandro González Iñárritu's "Birdman: The Unexpected Virtue of Innocence."  Any guesses?  


Sheila said...

People forget that Kael had a keen appreciation of genre movies - what other people would call junk. She certainly wasn't a film snob by any means.

Alex said...

I agree. Other critics who try to ape her style give every indication that they've read her without really learning anything. She was singular.

Brian Lucas said...

I don't know what she's day about "Birdman," but I'd like to think that Kael would be more discriminating than the critics reviewing today. Her writing was more immersive compared to the shallow, facile writing today that passes as critiques.

Margaret said...

I agree with Alex. Those male critics who are so devoted to Kael have learned little from her.