Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bonnie & Clyde + Pauline Kael = Hancock?

Robert Fulford has a downright perverse column in the National Post saying that Pauline Kael's love of trashy cinema made stinkers like Will Smith's Hancock possible...

Oh, please!

First off, the premise is wildly off. The great Kael hated plenty of blockbusters. (George Lucas went so far as to name one of the villains of Willow "General Kael" because she regularly skewered him... it'd be difficult to think of a more pop director or box office phenomenon than Lucas.) And she liked plenty of movies that never did great box office. (Like, say, Last Tango in Paris.)

But Kael didn't love movies simply because they were trashy (although who doesn't take a certain guilty pleasure in that?) and hate movies because they were slow. She hated movies that she deemed pretentious. (And boring.) She liked movies that were exciting. (But she was always contemptuous of pure dreck.) I think she generally had the right idea. I'd take a dumb movie like Zoolander over a slow, stupid spectacle like Babel. Nobody would ever say that Zoolander is a work of art -- but I think it's a better movie than Babel.

Real works of art (lasting works of art, anyway) are both artistic and exciting. And Kael fought the good fight for that.

For the record: I think she would have hated Hancock!