Christopher Lasch’s Quarrel with Liberalism

Modern life, to some of its critics, looks like a giant wreck¬ing yard of traditions, with no one around to pick up the mess. In the middle of the yard there is a small tin shed, and inside the shed the apologists of fragmentation sit. These are the liberals. They explain how it is that we are better off without ... Read More »

The Popist: Pauline Kael 6

One way to think critically about it, the way consistent with modern thinking about the arts generally, is to identify the formal properties of the medium and to judge movies by how fully and in¬telligently they use them. So that the assertion “Stagecoach is a great movie” might be defended against the person who wants to know if that means ... Read More »

The Popist: Pauline Kael 5

Still, fine writing is not the name of the game. W. H. Auden once praised Agee’s column by saying that he never went to the movies, but that he looked forward to reading what Mr. Agee had to say about them every week. Many people have said the same thing about Stanley Kauffmann, the longtime reviewer for the New Re¬public ... Read More »

The Popist: Pauline Kael 4

“Shallowly immoral” would probably have done it. But you cannot compare the movies you love with Moby Dick and then let the ones you hate off with a shrug. You have to keep writing as though souls are being saved and lost down at the cineplex every night. In the years when many of her readers found it exciting to ... Read More »

The Popist: Pauline Kael 3

In the seventies Kael consequently became, despite her disparagement of auteur theory, a devotee of directors. Her favorites— Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, Bernardo Bertolucci, Sam Peckinpah, Brian De Palma, Jonathan Demme, Paul Mazur- sky, Steven Spielberg—were artists of the popular. They loved, without condescension, exactly what the audience loved and went to the movies to see: pursuit and capture, ... Read More »

The Popist: Pauline Kael 2

Two things, in her view, made those thirties movies go: the writ¬ing and the acting. Her 1971 essay on Citizen Kane is usually re¬membered as an attack on Orson Welles and the cult of the director, a kind of sequel to her polemic against auteur theory, “Circles and Squares” (1963). But the point of the essay is that the reason ... Read More »

The Popist: Pauline Kael

Pauline Kael began reviewing movies for the New Yorker in 1967. She was not a “discovery.” She was forty-eight years old, and she had already written for nearly every well- known magazine in America but the New Yorker, including the New Republic, Partisan Review, the Atlantic, Mademoiselle, Hol¬iday, Vogue, Life, and McCall’s. Before coming to New York, in the mid-sixties, ... Read More »

Life in the Stone Age 7

If all popular culture episodes were only commercial and manipula¬tive, they would not matter to us. The late-sixties counterculture was not, by any means, the shabbiest episode in the postwar era, even if it now seems the most antique. It was imaginative and infec¬tious, and it touched a nerve. A lot of those old idols deserved to be overthrown. And ... Read More »

Life in the Stone Age 6

Thompson came to Rolling Stone in 1970, an important moment in the magazine’s history. Wenner had fired Greil Marcus, a music critic with an American studies degree who was then his reviews ed¬itor, for running a negative review of an inferior Dylan album called Self-Portrait (it was one of Wenner’s rules that the big stars must always be hyped); and ... Read More »

Life in the Stone Age 5

You didn’t have to be on drugs to enjoy late-sixties rock ’n’ roll, as many people have survived to attest; and this is an important fact. For from a mainstream point of view, the music’s drug aura was sim¬ply one aspect of the psychedelic fashion that between 1967 and 1969 swept through popular art (black-light posters), photography (fish-eye lenses), cinema ... Read More »