Kael says the picture plays with violence in a seductive way with absolutely no depth and that Kubrick’s use of composition and classic music are “ponderous techniques” (416). Both women enjoyed the notoriety of being so vicious in print that it cost them their livelihoods, but the truth is a lot more obscure than the legend suggests. In anticipation of our Doc Nights series screening of WHAT SHE SAID: THE ART OF PAULINE KAEL on Wednesday, February 12 at the AFS Cinema, we have compiled five career-defining reviews from Kael … Why not, indeed, as audiences and the Academy took little note of those negative notices. Kael’s editor at the time, Robert Stein, argued throughout his life that it wasn’t what did for her. Pauline Kael trounced it as “mechanically engineered” to transform the audience into “emotional and aesthetic imbeciles when we hear ourselves humming the sickly, goody-goody songs.” The Greatest Showman, argues Shearer, triumphs because from its opening number on, it tells audiences to sit back and enjoy the spectacle. We shouldn’t forget that even Kael herself was susceptible. Just look at Mamma Mia! “Only those of us who, despite the fact that we may respond, loathe being manipulated in this way and are aware of how cheap and ready-made are the responses we are made to feel. For a brief period during the 1930s, this unlikely idol became part of Hollywood’s glamorous elite. Perhaps she should have sent that note of surrender to Wise after all. That Western background served her well during the Reagan years. In an edited selection from a previously unpublished transcript of the event, she explains why good films make her … These women, who by this point had built up a comfortable rivalry, were temporarily bonded by their mutual hatred of Robert Wise’s Oscar-sweeping musical. Kael thought that The Sound of Music fit the bill, predicting it would prove “the single most repressive influence on artistic freedom in movies for the next few years.” If Didion took issue with the film’s historical dishonesty, Kael spoke of a general “luxuriant falseness,” finding the combined effect of the wholesome story and high production value to be emotional manipulation. To find a movie title, click on a letter. Dr Martha Shearer, a musicals expert at King’s College London, takes issue with the critics: “There’s some kind of implication that the audience for this film is either too stupid to pick up on how bad it is. Alternatively you can wallow in the film’s toothsome charms as the last gasp of the family-friendly studio musical before the climate changed and the genre went in darker directions. In fact, famed critic Pauline Kael was fired for daring to write a bad review of it when it first came out. O ne of the great legends of 20th century film criticism is that both Joan Didion and Pauline Kael were fired from their respective jobs for trashing The Sound of Music. In Vogue, Joan Didion lambasted “its suggestion that history need not happen to people … Just whistle a happy tune, and leave the Anschluss behind”. “It’s so overt and it even has a critic character who can’t appreciate the show because he can’t appreciate joy.” The Sound of Music does something similar. The film has only grown in prominence over the years, yet at the time of its release, the critical consensus was far from glowing. In 1965, Didion was writing for Vogue Magazine. Is it a musical classic or is it “cheap,” “self-indulgent” and “embarrassing?”, Tags: She said of the film that it was, “more embarrassing than most, if only because of its suggestion that history need not happen to people … Just whistle a happy tune, and leave the Anschluss behind.”, Both women lost their jobs shortly after, and it’s commonly thought that it was because of their negative takes, though this has been disputed over the years. “Whom could this operetta offend?” she wrote. For Brand, Andrews alone is worth the price of admission. I gave up months later after she kept panning every commercial movie from Lawrence of Arabia and Dr Zhivago to The Pawnbroker and A Hard Day’s Night.”. In Conversation. The film pivots on Julie Andrews’s inarguably excellent performance as Maria – she not only sings with great skill and charm, but no doubt also brought lots of audience goodwill and a useful aura of maternal efficiency from her performance in Mary Poppins the previous year. Each link contains between 20-30 reviews. On 25 July 1982, at London’s National Film Theatre, Pauline Kael invited questions from the audience. “Its recognition of how ridiculous it is, is part of the pleasure of it,” argues Shearer. What is really fascinating is how Didion and Kael latched on to this legend. Kael was a firm enemy of wholesome corn-fed movies: The River, Witness, On Golden Pond. Other critics gagged on that taste, with noted grump Bosley Crowther describing it in the New York Times as “cosy-cum-corny”. Her disgraceful review of Shoah is quoted at length, and the film's defense boils down to: "No movie is sacrosanct, and hey, at least she was honest, right?" Kael was known for her "witty, biting, highly opinionated and sharply focused" reviews, her opinions often contrary to those of her contemporaries. I had to read her as an undergraduate and could not believe she dismembered Orson Wells Citizen Kane. You can either accept the artifice of ‘real’ people suddenly bursting into song and dance, or you can’t.” Shearer discerns a gender angle too, whether the critic in question is male or female: “There can be a tendency amongst critics to be particularly dismissive of musicals and of mainstream films that are coded as feminine in some way.”. Take a bow, Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Rodgers and Hammerstein, director Robert Wise, all the warbling Von Trapp children and even that saucy, if wooden. It takes all sorts … The Greatest Showman proved a fan favourite. Didion has a bit more leverage in her legend, if only because there is no loud opponent to her version of events. Many, people, including academic Stacy Wolf, read androgynous Maria as radiating “delicious queerness”. The actor, director and producer discusses his latest project and reflects on his remarkably varied career. It was rumoured by those close to her that she had grown tired of reviewing movies and The Sound of Music was a tipping point. She took particular issue with the film’s artificiality and wholesomeness, calling it a narcotic for the masses. She approached movies emotionally, with a strongly colloquial writing style. Some have said it was a matter of logistics; Didion was tired of writing film reviews and, having moved to California, she and Vogue simply parted ways. Pauline Kael Reviews A-Z. Viewing it as a dramatisation of a true story from the Anschluss is not the best approach. What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael (2019) Film criticism is not the same as a film review. Pauline Kael described the film as “the sugar-coated lie that people seem to want to eat”. Most famously, Pauline Kael called it “the sugar-coated lie that people seem to want to eat ... and this is the attitude that makes a critic feel that maybe it’s all hopeless. That line about the “sugar-coated lie” refers to The Sound of Music all right, but it comes from an aside in a review of a later film, The Singing Nun, for McCall’s. Pauline Kael, A new version of The Magnificent Ambersons restores Welles’ vision, It’s time to rethink the established film canon, How we filmed Pieces of a Woman’s one-shot birth scene, Why a David Bowie biopic will always be doomed to fail. The songs, which have become part of the American musical lexicon, are immediately recognizable and, as Kael sarcastically acknowledged, eminently hummable. Knowing the rural life, she wasn't seduced with dreams of how pure farm living is. There is also more than one way to watch The Sound of Music. She was fired from the women’s magazine McCall’s in 1965 for panning too many commercial hits in a row – The Sound of Music, Dr Zhivago, A … As with the original stage musical, the film is set in Austria on the cusp of the Nazi invasion. These women, who by this point had built up a comfortable rivalry, were temporarily bonded by their mutual hatred of Robert Wise’s Oscar-sweeping musical. Where critics see manipulation, audiences applaud what composer and broadcaster Neil Brand calls “Hollywood professionalism of the highest order”. On the film’s first release in 1965, the answer from most critics was a flat no. ‘A useful aura of maternal efficiency’ … Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. At the same time, Kael was building her own reputation as a film critic. While both women were particularly resistant to the idea of being a part of the woman’s movement, as critics, they appeared purposeful in resisting Maria as a romantic model. Take a bow, Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Rodgers and Hammerstein, director Robert Wise, all the warbling Von Trapp children and even that saucy, if wooden, yodelling goatherd – you created a movie that is inordinately beloved. There are 2,846 in all, ranging from early silents to the early 1990s, when Kael retired. In 1965, New York’s critics were in agreement about the merits of Robert Wise’s The Sound of Music. One of the great legends of 20th century film criticism is that both Joan Didion and Pauline Kael were fired from their respective jobs for trashing The Sound of Music. Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. As The Sound of Music returns to cinemas in the UK, this time in 70mm, it might be worth reflecting on the film’s place within the canon. We may become even more aware of the way we have been turned into emotional aesthetic imbeciles when we hear ourselves humming the sickly, goody-goody songs.” Did Kael exit the cinema singing Edelweiss? Where reviewers found The Sound of Music slow, sugary and mendacious, audiences discovered a heartwarming story about childhood, and a series of catchy, upbeat songs. She was one of the most influential American film critics of her era. Last modified on Thu 26 Mar 2020 08.31 EDT. More Pauline Kael in the July 2019 issue of Sight & Sound Mission critical. Era conocida por sus reseñas "ingeniosas, mordaces, muy obstinadas y fuertemente enfocadas"; [1] sus opiniones a menudo eran contrarias a las de sus contemporáneos. Her initial assessment of the movie, in an unsigned note for the New Yorker, admitted she was not immune to its contrivances and charms and praised Plummer’s “sinister, archly decadent performance”. Fue una de las críticas de cine más influyentes de su época. One week Kael would praise the Jane Fonda comedy western Cat Ballou, while in the next issue Didion would review The Sons of Katie Elder, making sure to take a swipe at Ballou in the process (Vogue was a weekly until 1973). (which Peter Bradshaw called a “soulless panto”), tell us critics and audiences want very different things from a musical. the recent success of The Greatest Showman. While Kael was boisterous and Didion diminutive, it was said they spoke the same central California language, or “valley talk,” as John Dunne wrote in a diary entry. “Only those of us who, despite the fact that we may respond, loathe being manipulated in this way and are aware of how self-indulgent and cheap and ready-made are the responses we are made to feel.”, Didion’s review isn’t quite laced with same venom, but it is snide and caustic. Pauline Kael’s review of Interiors is full of the same holes, but goes a step further in the way it reverts to her classic brand of ad hominem, faulting Woody Allen for his supposed Jewish (or non-Jewish?) Whose side are you on? To the Editor: Sorry to be a spoilsport, but Pauline Kael's review of ''The Sound of Music'' in McCall's was not what cost her the job [''All Together Now: The Hills Are Still Alive . With five Oscars under its belt, legions of devoted fans including those prone to dressing up and singing along, and having taken so much box-office cash that it is in the top 10 highest-grossing films of all time, The Sound of Music is comfortably, and indisputably, a resounding hit. interviews In fact, perhaps the recent success of The Greatest Showman, as well as other fan favourites such as Mamma Mia! The wife of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel was the real-life model for Lois Lane. The infamous film critic Pauline Kael's top rated films as of the time of her demise in 2001. In a letter to the editor sent to the New York Times in 2000, Stein attempted to set the record straight: “I was the magazine’s editor at the time and rather liked her trashing it as ‘The Sound of Money’. Most of us watch the film first when we’re a child, and subsequently enjoy the ritual of its slowly unfolding plot and frequent song reprisals with the comfort of nostalgia – not for nothing was its first UK TV broadcast on Christmas Day. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, we’ve been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. Those who lived during Pauline Kael’s time remember her as a brash and sharp-tongued critic for The New Yorker whose distinctly personal voice was acutely observational and highly provocative.. It’s even possible to enjoy being manipulated. The Sound of Music The Sound of Music reviewed: 'a slick job' - archive, 1965 26 March 1965 Will Guardian readers appreciate a sentimental film … Penning a bad review of the The Sound of Music changed one writer’s career. Others took exception not just to its sweetness but its distortion of history. It remains unclear what exactly inspired them to butt heads. Courting a family audience, however, the film drastically dilutes the threat of fascism. Describing their brief meeting at a New York Oscar party, he described them as “two tough little numbers with the instincts of a mongoose and an amiable contempt for each other’s work.”, When The Sound of Music was released in 1965, it was an instant sensation, topping box offices around the world. Didion’s review implies a lesbian dalliance between Mother Superior and Maria, while also suggesting the kind of anesthetising historical take. Movies. This documentary about Pauline Kael hits all the expected beats: Limelight, Hiroshima Mon Amour, The Sound of Music, Bonnie and Clyde, Last Tango in Paris, "Raising Kane," Woody Allen, Warren Beatty, Shoah, and Casualties of War. This documentary about Pauline Kael hits all the expected beats: Limelight, Hiroshima Mon Amour, The Sound of Music, Bonnie and Clyde, Last Tango in Paris, "Raising Kane," Woody Allen, Warren Beatty, Shoah, and Casualties of War.Her disgraceful review of Shoah is quoted at length, and the film's defense boils down to: "No movie is sacrosanct, and hey, at least she was honest, right?" She got her start in the advertising department and moved up to writing captions. The surreal true story of Cynthia the movie star mannequin, Griffin Dunne on acting, Joan Didion and his plans for an After Hours TV show, The amazing story of Joanne Siegel – the super woman who inspired a comic book icon. 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