Re: RARA-AVIS: Chandler vs. Altman

From: Mark R. Harris (
Date: 13 Nov 2007

Even when Kael is at her best (and she is one hell of a writer, make no mistake), she's riffing arrogantly off her opinions instead of standing humble before the work. Her opinions are her true subject.

Not that she's alone in this -- most journalistic reviewers fall prey to it. Kael was just unusually brazen about it (famously never watching a movie more than once -- she only did one-night stands).

Criticism that isn't as fixated on offering an immediate thumbs-up thumbs-down can get down to the more interesting task of elucidating the unique quality of a work or an oeuvre.

I think entertainment per se is over-rated; being entertained is a pretty passive activity. I think more highly of engagement.


On 11/13/07, <> wrote:
> > Pauline Kael didn't
> > care about Robert Altman's vision; she cared whether she liked the
> > particular movie. That's a serious flaw in a critic."
> Why? The vision matters to Altman, but I watch movies to be
> entertained. What we the audience see in writing or movies doesn't need to
> be what the creators of those works saw in them. They don't need to care
> either - there's a big different between academic interpretation and
> criticism of entertainment value. I remember the scene in "Back to School"
> with Rodney Dangerfield where Rodney gets Kurt Vonnegut to write a paper on
> the meaning of Kurt Vonnegut's writing. The professor comes back and says,
> "You've completely missed the meaning!"
> Jordan
> RARA-AVIS home page:
> Yahoo! Groups Links

Mark R. Harris
2122 W. Russet Court #8
Appleton WI 54914
(920) 470-9855

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