A new book features collected reviews by film critic Peter Rainer, movie-mad since childhood and still seeing hundreds of films per year. WNYC’s Sara Fishko sat down with Rainer for this edition of Fishko Files…
Rainer will be signing his book “Rainer on Film,” and introducing the film "The Night of the Hunter," at the Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35 Avenue, Astoria, NY, this Sunday at 4:30 PM.
A preview of the arresting film...
"I got to know [Kael] a bit and all of that was good for a while but ultimately you sort of have to find your own way. It was a sort of difficult, painful process. So I guess in the Kael/Sarris wars I was a Paulette as opposed to a Sarrisite." -Peter Rainer
Rainer came up as a critic during a lively time in American film. Consider this New York Times' headline from 1969: "Don't Go to the Movies to Escape: The Movies are Now High Art."
Two critics in particular, Pauline Kael (The New Yorker) and Andrew Sarris (The Village Voice), wrote celebrated columns, which divided their respective devotees into two camps: the Paulettes and the Sarrisites. The Kael/Sarris polarization in the film world lasted throughout much of the 60s, 70s and 80s. Sarris was the American ambassador for the auteur theory, a belief in the director as the primary creative visionary of a film.
Kael questioned the auteur theory, most notably in her essay "Circles and Squares." Here's an excerpt:
"The director must be judged on the basis of what he produces - his films - and if he can make great films without knowing the standard methods, without the usual craftmanship of the 'good director,' then that is the way he works."
For more information...
- Peter Rainer's book "Rainer on Film"
- Pauline Kael's 1965 book "I Lost It at the Movies"
- Andrew Sarris's book, from 1970: "Confessions of a Cultist: On the Cinema, 1955-1969"