BootLeg Betty

Deceased Critic Pauline Kael Retired Because of Bette Midler?

Although Ms. Kael thought Bette’s performance in “The Rose” was one of the best in decades, she obviously didn’t think much of her output afterwards, according to this excerpt from her book…..:

‘You can’t have a dumb blonde [in movies] anymore, and the dumb blonde was such a wonderful stereotype,” Pauline Kael lamented in a July 2000 interview published in “Afterglow.” So nothing changed with Kael: Even until her death last September (from Parkinson’s disease at 82), the New Yorker film critic was still lustfully engaged with movies and still provocatively opinionated about them. It’s that outspoken yet informed attitude that outraged thousands of filmgoers, not to mention a few directors. Yet it also made her one of our liveliest modern critics; few others were (or are) so much fun to argue with, and the wide-ranging conversation that makes up “Afterglow” offers an elegant yet combative reminder of the reasons why.

Though slim, “Afterglow” covers an impressive amount of ground: her youth in Petaluma, the New Yorker, Jean-Luc Godard, her much-discussed reviews of “Last Tango in Paris” and “Nashville” and her reasons for retirement (“I couldn’t write another bad review of Bette Midler.”).

Much of that is old news to her fans — the “Paulettes,” whom Kael’s detractors always had knives out for — but interviewer Francis Davis admirably balances the old war stories by catching up with the Kael’s passions in the ’90s. She bemoans “a movie industry in decay” but enthuses about John Travolta, “Sex and the City,” Tom Waits and “Three Kings.” And when she tells Davis that “Meg Ryan shows up in every movie you don’t want to go see,” it’s hard not to smile at that familiar candor and miss the voice expressing it.

Afterglow A Last Conversation with Pauline Kael By Francis Davis

Mark Athitakis
Sunday, September 29, 2002

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