Pauline Kael, Diva

If Pauline Kael had ever reviewed her life, she might have labeled it "a mess," her favorite rebuke for a film that had failed to measure up. Yet Kael often reveled in movies she thought were a mess, just as anyone who reads Brian Kellow's incisive, detailed biography of America's most impassioned and influential movie critic, Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark (Viking, 417 pages, $27.95), is sure to be absorbed, sucked in, by Kael's cluttered hodge-podge of a life—personally, professionally, emotionally, aesthetically.

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