Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pauline Kael & I

DL over at The Cellar Door has tagged me in the "meme" making its way across the blogosphere, and since I'm in a generous mood, I've decided to oblige and do my own.

1. Pick a single person past or present who works in the film industry who you'd like to have dinner with and tell us why you chose this person.
This, I think, is the toughest part. Who, out of all my loves in the cinema, do I choose? Do I go with my old-school divas (Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, Judy Garland, Joan Crawford), my new-school loves (Gyllenhaal, James Marsden, Channing Tatum) or the great directors (Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Hitchcock, George Cukor)? It's the ultimate Sophie's choice, but finally I decided. I ditched all of my previous ideas and settled on Pauline Kael.

Pauline who? I know you're giving me that dumbfounded face right now, so just stop and let me explain. Before Roger Ebert became America's most revered and respected film critic, Pauline Kael held that position. Not only did she champion smaller foreign films that otherwise might not have gotten a chance in America (most notably Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris) but she savagely ripped into films that were universally praised (it was rumored that the conservative McCall's fire her for her review of The Sound of Music, in which she called it The Sound of Money) and attacked others for having pretentious taste in art house films of the 60's. I first discovered her criticisms earlier this school year and I immediately fell in love with her distinctive style of writing that's really more conversational (rather high-brow, but conversation nonetheless) than strict, technical writing. And she definitely wasn't a star fucker either.

2. Set the table for your dinner. What would you eat? Would it be in a home or at a restaurant? And what would you wear? Feel free to elaborate on the details.
I don't believe Pauline would be much for going out to a fancy restaurant and making such a fuss about it, so we would definitely have a quite dinner at home. I'd probably make something simple and unpretentious, such as spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread and a really yummy chocolate cake afterwards. I'm guessing Pauline would wear something classic, like a blouse and skirt or even pants if she was feeling adventurous and I would put on jeans, a nice shirt and a skinny tie. After dinner, I think we'd settle down and watch a couple of Pauline's favorite films: Nashville, which I love, and...gulp....L'Avventura, which she might be able to explain why this is a good film to me.

3. List five thoughtful questions you would ask this person during dinner.
1. Do you believe that people need formal training in the art of making films (i.e. going to a film school) in order to be successful film critics? Or should they just write what the feel in response to the film they are seeing?
2. In a lot of your reviews, you always seem to mention what fellow film critic Bosley Crowther thought about a certain film and then attacked his opinion. What was it about him that made you so spiteful towards him?
3. In 1985, there was this sort of mini controversy surrounding the 1985 documentary Shoah. A few members of the National Society of Film Critics and New York Film Critics wanted to name it Best Picture, but you fought them on it and said that it would be better suited to the Best Documentary. You got your way, but the Shoah supporters were pissed and pretty much claimed you were anti-Semitic. What was it about this film that you think made the lovers act this way?
4. You love movies that have violence for a purpose, very unusual for a "lady reviewer" of your day. What is it about these types of films that you enjoy?
5. What do you think of the state of cinema today? What films from the past couple of years do you think are the best?

4. When all is said and done, select six bloggers to send this meme along to. Link back to Lazy Eye Theatre, so that people know the mastermind behind this meme.
Everyone I know has already done this or has been tagged, so I'm going to skip this last part. Sorry!

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