May 27, 2009

Random Musing: Pauline Kael/One-Minute Reviews

For some time now, I have been wanting to update my blog with a third sidebar. At first, about a year ago, I was intending to fill it with more advertisements, widgets, etc. However, at the end of this past January, during my independent study on film reviewing, I picked up "5001 Nights at the Movies" (for the Google Books version, click here) by former long-running "New Yorker" film critic, Pauline Kael. It changed a good number of things about the way I review. I was particularly impressed by Kael's (very) opinionated, sardonic writing style. Considering that I was studying my own writing and comparing it to the work of others, I found Kael far more "active" and unabashed in her criticism compared to the times I used to go "passive" in my reviews. She was a true critic, in every sense of the word, and she inspired me, though she has been deceased since 2001, to be a better critic. Therefore, yesterday I (with the invaluable help of Mr. Nathan Skky--to whom HUGE SPECIAL THANKS is due) added the third column, called "One-Minute Reviews," and I dedicate it to Ms. Pauline Kael, whose "5001 Nights at the Movies," culled from her writings for the "Goings on About Town" section of the "New Yorker," first introduced me to her and inspired me way back in January...

For those of you unfamiliar with "5001 Nights at the Movies," perhaps Kael's most famous anthology of her criticism, it collects shorter, more concise "write-up" reviews from her career. By "write-up," I essentially mean a review, of no more than a paragraph, that is intended for a sort of "what you should see" column. These "write-ups" can be read quickly, and Kael's best ones are those that economically summarize and criticize.

Fastforward to four days ago. I decided after seeing "Sordid Lives" that I wanted to make it my next full review, especially because of the ambivalent reviews floating around on the internet (though I loved it!), but I was having trouble making it work. I ultimately abandoned it. However, after seeing "A Place in the Sun" on Monday and seeing the overwhelmingly positive response to it (while mine was, at best, ambivalent), I decided I, as a responsible film critic, had to publish a review, as well as one for "Sordid Lives." Then, I remembered how much I had loved "5001 Nights at the Movies" and how it had ameliorated me as a film critic. I knew at that moment that I had to bring back to the blog my idea of a third column. I also knew that it would showcase what I would call "One-Minute Reviews," a collection of—well, you get the picture. But these would not be like my other reviews, just as Kael's reviews in "5001" are not like her others. These reviews would be critical, concise, and, above all, quick reads, in order to provide you, my dear reader, with more reviews and faster so you know just what to watch.

As a bonus, you will notice that if you click on any review in the accessible sidebar on the right column, you will be given the option, within the column, to also comment. Sounds easy? It is! Feel free to leave any feedback on the films reviewed, just as you do for the longer reviews!

Finally, just for kicks, I have noticed a certain coincidence for my blog. Its births and anniversaries all happen on the 26th of a given month: I created the blog on March 26, 2008, I officially debuted its new name (and celebrated its one-year anniversary) on March 26, 2009, and now, I have debuted the BRAND NEW third column with its "One-Minute Reviews" on May 26, 2009. I am proud to bring you them and hope to keep them frequently updated. Enjoy.

(NOTE: If you want to access the "One-Minute Reviews" alone, then feel free to go straight here. However, it is not necessary, as they are still entirely accessible on the main site.)

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