A.O. SCOTT: I have to say that the idea of critical authority has always struck me as slippery, even chimerical. Authority over whom? Power to do what? The importance of particular critics can’t be quantified in lumens of fame, circulation numbers or box office returns, though by all of these measures Kael, in her heyday, certainly enjoyed unusual prominence. But like every other critic, she was above all a writer, and a writer only really ever has — or cares about — one kind of power, which is the power to engage readers.
I think Kael is remembered not for her particular judgments or ideas, but rather for her voice, for an outsized literary personality that could be enthralling and infuriating, often both. A lot of people read her for the pleasure of disagreement, and the resentment she was able to provoke — in critical targets and rival critics — is surely evidence of power. An awful lot of our colleagues are still, in both senses, mad about her. To reread her is to understand why.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Pauline Kael said.....
What would Pauline Kael have made of the everyone's-a-critic era of Web movie reviewing? A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis discuss Kael's conflicted legacy. (NYT)