I saw Pauline Kael give a talk once, back in the spring of 1976, when she had just begun her latest six-month “vacation” from The New Yorker. She spoke for awhile, maybe half an hour, I can’t recall. Her topic was masculinity in movies, and she might have recalled her still-fresh essay on Cary Grant, although again, my memory isn’t much good for this. After she’d spoken, there was a question-and-answer period, and one by one, people from the audience (it was in Zellerbach, for folks who know about Berkeley), given the chance to say a sentence or two to Pauline, would inevitably call up the name of some movie they loved that Kael hadn’t reviewed, asking her what she thought of that movie.
Thirty-five years later, I feel like that night I got an early preview of what it would be like when she died. You see a new movie, and you wonder what Kael would have thought.
(BTW, if you’re on Facebook, check out the movie page referred to in Steven’s post: “If They Move, Kill ‘Em! Steven, Jeff & Phil Count Down Their Favorite Films.” ‘Jeff’ in this case meaning Jeff Pike, ‘Phil’ in this case meaning Phil Dellio, all taking turns writing about their 50 favourites. They’re closing in on the Top 10 as I write.)