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Monday, June 19, 2006

Lost Continent of Cinephilia

Posted by on June 19 at 15:14 PM

The generational tempest over the dismissals of some long-time film critics, first publicized and/or created by Dave Kehr, is getting some MSM attention in articles like this one. You must click on that link if, like me, you’ve somehow gotten through your life having never seen a photograph of Harry Knowles. However, the analysis is a little facile. Anyone who thinks Dave Kehr wants to revive the “personality cults” inspired by the likes of Pauline Kael certainly hasn’t read this interview, from 2001:

Steve Erickson: Do you have as much “love” for Pauline Kael as most of the Sarris camp?

Dave Kehr: I used to see her once in a while. She was very entertaining and charismatic, with an amazing sense of humor. You could certainly see her charm. As a critic, I’ve rarely agreed with her judgment or her approach. In some ways, she did a lot of harm. Oddly, her influence has become all the more present after she retired, as her acolytes have spread all over. It’s the same voice: mildly amused, a little condescending, seeing “trashy” and “sexy” as the highest praise you can give. That’s the tone editors want. There’s nothing too intimidating about it. It’s kind of sarcastic, hip and glib.

SE: She’s better as a prose stylist than a thinker.

DK: She’s a damn good writer. Is she a thinker? I don’t know. She described acting styles better than anyone I’ve ever read. But I’ve never seen her dig any ideas out of a movie or dig into its structure beyond “I like this guy and I don’t like this guy.”

The latest from Dave Kehr is tomorrow’s New York Times DVD column, on Charlie Chan et al.