Cover image for Afterglow : a last conversation with Pauline Kael
Afterglow : a last conversation with Pauline Kael
Kael, Pauline.
Personal Author:
First Da Capo Press edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, MA : Da Kapo Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
vii, 134 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1998.3.K34 D38 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Who else but Pauline Kael would have said: It's not fun writing about bad movies. I used to think it was bad for my skin." On September 3, 2001, the movies and those who love them lost one of their greatest friends-a friend who never tired of championing the best that the movies could offer and didn't shrink from taking to task any film, director, or actor she thought deserved a taste of her famously acerbic wit. Kael's insight, spirit, and straight-shooting won her singular respect in both movie and literary circles, as well as a passionate following for her New Yorker columns and her inimitably titled books such as I Lost It at the Movies and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Shortly before her death, Kael sat down with Francis Davis for a series of conversations about her life and work-and, of course, the movies. Among many, many things she talks here of her early days as a critic, her career at the New Yorker, the directors she knew (for better or worse), her disappointment with recent cinema, and her renewed interest in television. It's funny, it's controversial, it's right-on-the-mark-and time and again you realize that no could would have dared to say that, in just that way, except Pauline Kael."

Author Notes

Francis Davis is a contributing editor of the Atlantic Monthly.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

No one wrote about the movies with more vim, vinegar, and piercing intelligence than fearless New Yorker critic Kael, who, as Davis, himself a music critic, so rightly observes, "established the movie review as a form of literature with the potential for social commentary." Davis pays lively tribute to his friend and mentor, who passed away in September 2001, in an essay and conversation that neatly encapsulate Kael's ardor and insights, flinty disposition, uncanny sensibility, and unabashed passion for pop culture. A Californian who abandoned law school to write, Kael "loved the gamble of writing," and recognized that she was "ideally suited for criticism," an art she enlivened and enriched with her dynamic, often devastating, always witty critiques and pronouncements. Here she neatly parses the work of various directors and actors, muses over favorite films, skewers television, decries the current decay of the movie industry, recounts her struggles with prudish editor William Shawn, and expresses regret that she didn't write more about the eroticism of film. Davis' vital give-and-take aptly celebrates Kael's acumen and effervescence. --Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

This slim but potent volume offers movie lovers an elegant good-bye from the acerbic, wildly opinionated National Book Award- winning film critic who reigned at the New Yorker from 1968 to 1991. The New York Times called her "probably the most influential film critic of her time." Kael's enthusiasm for films was contagious, as she praised or damned them with giddy vitality. Longtime friend Davis's three extended conversations find the octogenarian still an avid moviegoer. While this book doesn't offer extended reviews, fans will be delighted to hear Kael weigh in on movies released since she stopped writing a decade ago. She enjoyed the "sweet" Star Trek spoof Galaxy Quest; the first half of Boogie Nights; High Fidelity ("it gets better as it goes along"); and Brian De Palma's Mission to Mars. She was also fond of TV's "terrific" Sex and the City and The Sopranos ("I loved the first season and watched it religiously"). She found Silence of the Lambs "a hideous and obvious piece of moviemaking"; Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut "ludicrous from the word go"; and American Beauty "heavy and turgid." She also blasts later-day Steven Spielberg (Always was "a shameful movie" and the casting was "terribly wrongheaded" in Schindler's List). Besides film quips, Kael defends her critical review of the Holocaust documentary Shoah, regrets being talked out of reviewing Deep Throat and discusses current filmmaking and her 20-year battle with Parkinson's disease. (Sept. 3) FYI: The book's publication date coincides with the one-year anniversary of Kael's death at age 82. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
Part I

p. 29

Part II

p. 65

Part III

p. 109

Indexp. 127