Salute to General Kael
In his review of Pauline Kael's latest collection of criticism ["Love Letters," January 5], Matt Zoller Seitz takes the opportunity to deliver a stirring defense of Ms. Kael.
But it's a defense that mostly involves marching out a lot of flags and huffily pummeling a few straw men. Like most champions of Ms. Kael, Mr. Seitz neglects (or avoids) the significant charges that have been laid against her.
He never addresses Peter Bogdanovich's devastating riposte to Raising Kane, Ms. Kael's book-length study of Citizen Kane (she never bothered to interview Orson Welles, for starters). Nor John Gregory Dunne's charges that she's dishonest and ignorant of how films are made (contrary to what she wrote, Jeremiah Johnson never gives the finger at the end of that film). Nor Renata Adler's pointed analysis of Ms. Kael's tastes in The New York Review of Books (Ms. Kael seems to have a kink for onscreen sexual violence especially when it's directed at women--no wonder she's been a fan of de Palma).
Yes, Pauline Kael has been our most provocative and persuasive film critic, championing neglected pop trash and deflating pompous snoozers. In effect, writing lengthy reviews in a literate but popular journal, reviews that are free-wheeling yet influential, she understandably became a wish-fulfillment for many younger critics. And Mr. Seitz is himself a dandy writer--too bad, by the way, that the Observer's much-needed arts coverage gets shoved behind Laura Miller's eternal pose as a tough gal doing a tough job in a tough town (doesn't her jaw ever hurt from all that jutting?).
But what's not needed is another recital of how Pauline tore the pants off ol' Bosley Crowthers (the Declaration of Independence for hip-kid critics, the ritual slaying of the Fuddy Dud). What's needed is an analysis that can accommodate this fiercely articulate and funny writer, this critic with a sharp nose for the fraudulent--with someone who could be fundamentally dishonest in her arguments.
But hey, an actual book review in the Observer--even if it was slugged "Film." We should be grateful. More, please.
Dallas Morning News
In response to Thad Beaumont's diatribe regarding your "offensive" publication [Letters, January 5], I can only say, "Thad, who was holding you at gunpoint and forcing you to read the Observer cover to cover?"
Thad Beaumont should look around a little. Dallas is a large, diverse city--as diverse as any city in the United States. Every city I've ever visited has a weekly publication similar to the Observer, and there's no reason Dallas should be any different. The Observer does an excellent job.
Dallas, like most cities, is made up of liberals as well as conservatives, gays as well as straights, Democrats as well as Republicans. If Mr. Beaumont is offended by articles such as the one about Kay Bailey Hutchison, he should stick to reading the Dallas Morning News.
There was a point in time, not that long ago, when Dallas had a reputation as the city of hate. We don't want those attitudes to come back. We need to learn to accept each other, like other big cities do. And as long as our only daily newspaper runs a consistently conservative viewpoint, we need the Observer for the rest of us. Please don't change a thing.
Prayer for a family
I want to thank you for the article you wrote about the Krasniqi family ["Tell Mama why you cry," November 17]. It is important that reporters tell these kinds of stories because this could happen to anyone! I feel so much sadness for the struggle and suffering of these people. It is so incredible that society allows the government to kidnap innocent children! We must demand immediate changes in the state agency (DHS). The practice of this agency to punish first and prove the case second is unconstitutional and inhuman, to say the least. I pray that God will bless the children and re-unite this family.
Mrs. Sami Leka
Brooklyn, New York
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