John's Reviews > 5001 Nights at the Movies

5001 Nights at the Movies by Pauline Kael
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Jan 08, 12

bookshelves: movies

Kael always had an idiosyncratic take on movies--I think she would rather have watched "The Sound of Music" twice than be thought predictable--and there was some merit to Renata Adler's attack against her in the NY Review. But the tiny repertory house she programmed in Berkeley in the late 50's-early 60's introduced a lot of people (me included) to a lot of movies, not just the art house staples like "Wild Strawberries" and "Last Year at Marienbad" but oddities like the British "Beggar's Opera" (Olivier sings! badly!) and the loopy French comedy "Voyage Surprise." Many of the short program notes she wrote then, more or less edited, are in this book, including her identification of a genre she called "the come-dressed-as-the-sick-soul-of-Europe party" movies like Antonioni's "The Island." What holds up, better than her opinion of particular titles, is her strong dislike of pretentiousness, whether in the form of Hollywood studio "important pictures" or chic, deadpan European artiness.
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