Pauline Kael

Pauline Kael
Tomatometer-approved critic
Publications: The New Republic, New Yorker

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
88% Planet of the Apes (1968) The picture is an enormous many-layered black joke on the hero and the audience, and part of the joke is the use of Charlton Heston as the hero. I don't think the movie could have been so forceful or so funny with anyone else. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 19, 2019
75% Images (1972) "Image" is not remotely an example of hack work - it's an example of a conceptual failure. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 14, 2019
96% GoodFellas (1990) Is it a great movie? I don't think so. But it's a triumphant piece of filmmaking-journalism presented with the brio of drama. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 6, 2018
98% Taxi Driver (1976) No other film has ever dramatized urban indifference so powerfully; at first, here, it's horrifyingly funny, and then just horrifying. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 6, 2018
86% Grand Hotel (1932) Most of the players give impossibly bad performances-they chew up the camera. But if you want to see what screen glamour used to be, and what, originally, "stars" were, this is perhaps the best example of all time. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 3, 2018
100% The Golden Coach (Le Carrosse d'or) (1953) This was Renoir's second color film (after "The River"), and his directorial rhythm seems to falter in his work in color, but, given the film's glow and warmth, this defect is trifling. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 3, 2018
86% East of Eden (1955) It's far from a dull movie, but it's certainly a very strange one; it's an enshrinement of the mixed-up kid. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 3, 2018
50% Patty Hearst (1988) This stylized movie of ideas is a lean, impressive piece of work. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 2, 2018
77% Used Cars (1980) This classic screwball fantasy is like a more restless and visually high-spirited version of the W. C. Fields pictures. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 2, 2018
83% Tess (1979) [Polanski's film] is textured and smooth and even, with lateral compositions subtly flowing into each other; the sequences are beautifully structured, and the craftsmanship is hypnotic. But the picture is tame. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 2, 2018
98% Brazil (1985) It's like a stoned, slapstick 1984: a nightmare comedy in which the comedy is just an aspect of the nightmarishness. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 2, 2018
83% Last Tango in Paris (1972) When Brando improvises within Bertolucci's structure, his full art is realized; his performance is intuitive, rapt, princely. Working with Brando, Bertolucci achieves realism with the terror of actual experience still alive on the screen. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 2, 2018
97% La Grande illusion (Grand Illusion) (1938) This elegy for the death of the old European aristocracy is one of the true masterpieces of the screen. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 2, 2018
96% Double Indemnity (1944) This shrewd, smoothly tawdry thriller, directed by Billy Wilder, is one of the high points of nineteen-forties films. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 2, 2018
98% A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) Vivien Leigh gives one of those rare performances that can truly be said to evoke pity and terror. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 2, 2018
86% La Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) (2001) This is a magical, whirling little film, a triumph of style, even though it runs down to nothing in the last, too quick, too ambiguous shot. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 2, 2018
89% The Warriors (1979) There's a night-blooming, psychedelic shine to the whole baroque movie. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 2, 2018
79% Minnie and Moskowitz (1972) John Cassavetes built this movie on a small conceit -- a love affair between two people who are wildly unsuited to each other -- and it doesn't take root. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 2, 2018
100% The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari) (1920) Caligari, the most complete essay in the décor of delirium, is one of the most famous films of all time, and it was considered a radical advance in film technique, yet it is rarely imitated -- and you'll know why. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 2, 2018
80% Private Lives (1931) An early talkie attempt at glittering theatrical sophistication-and, somehow, in its own terms, it works. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted May 9, 2016
97% The Long Goodbye (1973) Raymond Chandler's sentimental foolishness is the taking-off place for Robert Altman's heady, whirling sideshow of a movie, set in the early-seventies L.A. of the stoned sensibility. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 18, 2016
100% Whisky Galore! (1949) [A] convivial little classic. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 7, 2016
90% Persona (1966) [Bergman] gives us a movie within a movie, but he seems hardly to have made the enclosing movie, and then he throws away the inner one. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 7, 2016
89% An Unmarried Woman (1978) A tenderhearted feminist picture. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 7, 2016
93% Unfaithfully Yours (1948) One of the most sophisticated slapstick comedies ever made. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 7, 2016
90% Leave Her to Heaven (1945) Gothic psychologizing melodrama, so preposterously full-blown and straight-faced that it's a juicy entertainment. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 7, 2016
92% The Landlord (1970) Hal Ashby's début film as a director is one of his best. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 7, 2016
73% The Devil Is a Woman (1935) It's a story of obsessive love, and von Sternberg's version is certainly obsessive. There's a slightly crazy daringness about his approach to the mythic. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 7, 2016
93% Nashville (1975) The funniest epic vision of America ever to reach the screen. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 7, 2016
100% Ruggles of Red Gap (1935) It's a bit much, but it works like magic. The cast could hardly be better - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 7, 2016
100% M (1931) Our identification with [Lorre] as a psychopath is so complete it's hard to believe that while appearing before Fritz Lang's cameras in the daytime, he was, at night, acting as a comedian in a farce. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 7, 2016
94% The Wild Bunch (1969) It's a traumatic poem of violence, with imagery as ambivalent as Goya's. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 28, 2016
92% Rocco and His Brothers (Rocco e i suoi fratelli) (1961) Visconti's methods are still partly neorealist, but the scale of the film is huge and operatic, and it loses the intimacy of the best neorealist films, and their breath of life. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 8, 2015
100% The Long Voyage Home (1940) One of the finest of all the movies that deal with life at sea, and one of the most successful of all attempts to put Eugene O'Neill on film ... - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 8, 2015
91% Los Olvidados (1952) The most horrifying of all films about juvenile crime. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 1, 2015
100% Lola (1961) Demy gently mocks romantic movie effects, which he employs more romantically than ever. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 1, 2015
No Score Yet Studs Lonigan (1960) Clearly, Lerner didn't have the resources to do Farrell's characters and milieu justice, but it's an honorable low-budget effort ... and there are a few passages of daring editing that indicate what the film was aiming for. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted May 11, 2015
98% Pather Panchali (1955) Beautiful, sometimes funny, and full of love, it brought a new vision of India to the screen. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted May 4, 2015
94% Blue Velvet (1986) The charged erotic atmosphere makes the film something of a hallucination, but Lynch's humor keeps breaking through, too. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2015
No Score Yet China is Near (La Cina e vicina) (1967) Bellocchio makes it all rhyme. The camera glides in and out and around the action; it moves as simply and with as much apparent ease as if it were attached to the director's forehead. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2015
100% The Last Picture Show (1971) It's plain and uncondescending in its re-creation of what it means to be a high-school athlete, of what a country dance hall is like, of the necking in cars and movie houses, and of the desolation that follows high-school graduation. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 2, 2015
94% The Deer Hunter (1978) It has no more moral intelligence than the Clint Eastwood action pictures, yet it's an astonishing piece of work, an uneasy mixture of violent pulp and grandiosity, with an enraptured view of common life -- poetry of the commonplace. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 2, 2015
89% The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) Even in this truncated form it's amazing and memorable. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 5, 2015
89% Thieves Like Us (1974) Robert Altman finds a sure, soft tone in this movie, from 1974, and he never loses it. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 8, 2014
71% Dirty Dancing (1987) The dancing here brings out the sensual dreaminess of the songs. Dirty Dancing -- what a great title! -- is such a bubbleheaded, retro vision of growing up in the sixties (or any other time) that you go out of the theatre giggling happily. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted May 6, 2013
99% Metropolis (1927) One of the last examples of the imaginative -- but often monstrous -- grandeur of the Golden Period of the German film, Metropolis is a spectacular example of Expressionist design. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 25, 2013
87% Blow-Up (1966) In Blow-Up [Antonioni] smothers this conflict in the kind of pompous platitudes the press loves to designate as proper to "mature," "adult," "sober" art. - The New Republic EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 4, 2013
93% Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) There's no breather in the picture, no lyricism; the only attempt at beauty is in the double sunset. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 18, 2013
94% Superman (1978) Superman doesn't have enough conviction or courage to be solidly square and dumb; it keeps pushing smarmy big emotions at us -- but half-heartedly. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 15, 2013
71% The Towering Inferno (1974) The movie doesn't stick together in one's head; this thing is like some junky fairground show -- a chamber of horrors with skeletons that jump up. - New Yorker EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 15, 2013