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The Age of Movies: Selected Writings

(The Film Writings)

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  191 ratings  ·  25 reviews
"Film criticism is exciting just because there is no formula to apply," Pauline Kael once observed, "just because you must use everything you are and everything you know." Between 1968 and 1991, as regular film reviewer for The New Yorker, Kael used those formidable tools to shape the tastes of a generation, enthralling readers with her gift for capturing, with force and f ...more
Hardcover, 828 pages
Published October 27th 2011 by Library of America
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Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've been on a bit of a Pauline Kael kick lately, seeing the documentary What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael and then reading Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark and now this book, which is a collection of reviews and essays covering her entire career, including "Movies, The Desperate Art," which was one of her first pieces on film (though not one of her better-written ones).

Though even a 786-page-book (excluding the acknowledgments page and the index) is missing some of her more outrageous and
Al Bità
The earliest entry in this compilation of Kael’s work is dated 1955, and the last is dated 19 November 1990 — so we have here a cross-section of her comments, reviews and opinions on Cinema in the United States covering 35 years. The text part of her writings is a rather hefty 788 pages in length, so there’s lots of reading involved!

Historically, the 35 years covered are dealing with many major developments in Cinema internationally. Kael is dealing specifically with the US situation, but is als
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is a huge anthology of movie reviews that were originally printed in The New Yorker and then in other books. The reviews chosen for this book were the nice ones, hey they were all nice and I misread when I was younger. She was known to be caustic and contrary which made her famous. I picked up this book after seeing the documentary, What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael. Her writing on films and film books are from 1959-1990. The essays are so insightful and so good they made me smile ...more
Oct 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays-shorts
This Library of America volume presents a generous selection of Kael's essays culled from ten collections published during the course of her lifetime. To say they are confined to film review, film history and the state of the film industry is to sell them quite short. She was as much an observer of humanity as were the movies she took aim at. In fact, I think her sharpest skill may have rested in her unique ability to untangle the sinuous threads of juxtaposition that frequently confused the two ...more
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I don't know if there's a writer who has influenced my life more than Pauline Kael. I fell in love with her reviews when I stumbled across her first book when I was 12. I used to wait for the NEW YORKER to arrive to read her during her annual six-month stints as its movie critic; part of the reason I moved to Boston was to study film and BE her. (A story for another time.) If she loved a movie, I had to see it. She certainly impacted my taste, and even my writing style, for whatever that's worth ...more
Roy Kenagy
Oct 18, 2011 marked it as to-read
Excellent essay on the life & work of the late New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael Probably prompted by the issue of a compilation of her reviews by Library of America ...more
Duane Dunkerson
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
The Age of Movies, Selected Writings of Pauline Kael

Pauline Kael and Our Un Peu Culture
Pauline Kael did indeed lose it at the movies. She lost "it" in a sexual sense as implied by her first book's title. Other titles of her movie review collections in book form had a sexual connotation. Certainly movies had become her passion. One can affirm that her loss was akin to losing virginity. She did swoon over some films like the effect on her was sexual. To use Mr. Ebert's term - she was "knocked-up
Thomas Radigan
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
And you probably weren't meant to, unless you saw all the movies listed in this volume. I did read the ones for the movies I had seen, as well as some I did not but were regarded as classics. Agree with her opinions or not, she manages to raise interesting points when she writes at length.

My favorite review was one of the modern western "Hud", a movie I did not see but was made interesting by her contrasting her own childhood on a California cattle ranch with the movie story of the Texas cattle
Mike Mikulski
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this collection. At first I was distracted by the many references to films, directors and actors I've never seen or heard of. But after settling in, I enjoyed Kael's insights into movies. Kael was frustrated by movies that did not show or create true emotion and by Hollywood's focus on box office and its influence on film more than any other art. She loved Truffault, Brando, Olivier, Grant and Astaire. A similar admiration for great actresses was missing from this collection. I ...more
Ashley Jane
Feb 17, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2021
Even when I disagreed, I always found it interesting to read her thoughts.
My favourite review was her one of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. It was actually really quite touching and I wasn't expecting it. Besides my friends, I do not follow the writings of any living film critics. But I'm always curious to know Pauline Kael's opinion.
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars
Andy Mascola
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
A greatest hits collection of Kael reviews & essays from 1955-90. Good stuff!‬
Feb 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I have always been a Paulette--in fact, I can remember the first review of her I read and noticed, of Brian De Palma's "Dressed to Kill"--and I've been working my way through this posthumous anthology with pure enjoyment. Why can't all criticism be this exciting, this much fun? And she's so smart about so many things, especially about the role of pleasure and the artistic experience.

In reading some of these pieces, most of which I'd read ages and ages ago, I've realized that she may have given
Oct 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: film-crit
Cavils: it doesn't recuperate unreprinted published material (like her first review, of Limelight), of which there's not so much as to forbid it, nor does it well-judge a much-needed selection from her big effort, the book-length analysis of the Welles-Mankewicz collaboration on Citizen Kane that got her into trouble with academics when she filched a few ideas she didn't scrupulously credit, and which she apparently would have spun quite differently, were the publication of the scholarly source ...more
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Having been quite dedicated to cinema and film criticism for all of my adult life I thought it might be prudent to finally bone up on the writings of one of America's most famed and controversial critics. This volume is a perfect overview of Kael's career being a collection of selections from her published work (mostly for the New Yorker).

Kael is ultimately a fascinating critic for me not in what I agree with (her love of specific actors and recognition that filmmaking is a collaborative process
Dec 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Over the Christmas break, there was some long, juicy reading to be had in the form of The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael. It was a good time to read something reflective, discursive, funny, and fitting for the film festival season. I miss her voice - highly critical but also respectful, funny, witty, and joyous. She really loved movies. Best quote from the book: “And for women, if the roof leaks, or the car stalls…you may long for a Clark Gable to take charge, but when you thin ...more
Oct 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I only got through about a fifth of the "selected writings" from this 800-plus-page tome. I can happily say that I'm more familiar with Kael's work now, and I hope to buy this book someday when I have more shelf space, and really read each essay. Of the essays I got through, I enjoyed her writing on Orson Welles and Bonnie and Clyde most. I did NOT understand her hatred for West Side Story. I mean really, who could hate it that much?!

Feb 26, 2012 rated it liked it
I didn't read much of this book, but scanned it and since I'm a fan of Pauline Kael's film reviews and even received a letter from her once when I wrote and disagreed with one of her reviews, specifically the one on the film Ghandi. I amy come back to this again and again which is why I placed it on my list. ...more
Apr 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great read. Especially her insights into the emergence of independent cinema running counter to the studio system. She saw it early, and championed that movements' artists.
Fun book you can pick up at any section and dive into a smart essay.
Christian Hamaker
Nov 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Nearly two years to the day since I added this book to my GoodReads "currently reading" titles, I finished it, although I'm almost certain I've had it on my end table longer than two years.

It's as good as you've heard. Better, even.
I liked it, but it felt like work from to time to time. And sometimes, even I do not care about the films she's writing about. My interest perks up when I have seen the film. Try a later review. ...more
Joe W.
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of America's unsung thinkers...Paglia without the hoopla...with sharp insights into the culture via its most successful art form, the film. ...more
May 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Sharp, insightful film reviews and essays. I wish we still had Kael's voice critiquing current releases. ...more
Jun 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
She's so snobby. I love it! ...more
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Pauline Kael was an American film critic who wrote for The New Yorker magazine from 1968 to 1991. She was known for her "witty, biting, highly opinionated, and sharply focused" movie reviews. She approached movies emotionally, with a strongly colloquial writing style. She is often regarded as the most influential American film critic of her day and made a lasting impression on other major critics ...more

Other books in the series

The Film Writings (10 books)
  • I Lost it at the Movies: Film Writings, 1954-1965
  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: Film Writings, 1965-1967
  • Going Steady: Film Writings, 1968-1969
  • Deeper Into Movies: Film Writings, 1969-1972
  • Reeling: Film Writings, 1972-1975
  • When the Lights Go Down: Film Writings, 1975-1980
  • Taking it All In: Film Writings, 1980-1983
  • State of the Art: Film Writings, 1983-1985
  • Hooked: Film Writings 1985-1988
  • Movie Love: Film Writings, 1988-1991

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  Kerine Wint is a software engineering graduate with more love for books than for computers. As an avid reader, writer, and fan of all things...
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