Streaming—What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael

April 29–July 19, 2020

An exquisitely crafted documentary about the woman who was arguably the greatest movie critic who ever lived.

Owen Gleiberman, Variety

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Off the Shelves
Pauline Kael and the Berkeley Cinema Guild

Discover Kael's local roots through the BAMPFA Film Library's collection of Cinema Guild materials and a recording of her 1980 appearance at the Pacific Film Archive.

More than any film critic of her time or ours, Pauline Kael changed how people write and talk about movies. Her words (voiced by Sarah Jessica Parker as well as Kael herself) are the pulse of this documentary, which also gathers intriguing archival materials and interviews with filmmakers, fellow critics, and Kael’s daughter, Gina James. The film chronicles Kael’s career from her stint in Berkeley in the late fifties and early sixties—when she managed and wrote program notes for the Cinema Guild and hosted salons in a brown-shingle house bedecked with murals by the artist Jess—through her decades-long term at the New Yorker. There, she championed a new wave of American directors like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and Brian De Palma, issued withering condemnations of art-house elitism and Hollywood pomposity, and never backed down from a fight. Acknowledging Kael’s contradictions while honoring her impact, What She Said looks back on a time when one critic could redefine movie culture, and leave a mark on the larger American culture.

Juliet Clark
  • Vincent C. Ellis
Print Info
  • B&W/Color
  • Digital streaming
  • 95 mins
  • Juno Films