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  • Photograph of Pauline Kael, holding a dog and looking at the camera.


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“The most powerful, loved, and hated film critic of her time.” – Roger Ebert on Pauline Kael (1919-2001). In a field that has historically embraced few women film critics, Kael was controversial, witty, and fiercely discerning. Her decades-long berth at The New Yorker energized her fans (“Paulettes”) and infuriated her detractors on a weekly basis. Her turbo-charged prose famously championed the New Hollywood Cinema of the late 1960s and ‘70s (BONNIE AND CLYDE, NASHVILLE, CARRIE, TAXI DRIVER) and the work of major European directors (François Truffaut, Bernardo Bertolucci), while mercilessly panning some of the biggest studio hits (THE SOUND OF MUSIC, MIDNIGHT COWBOY, DIRTY HARRY). Her creepy battle with Andrew Sarris and his auteur theory was legendary, and her stint in Hollywood, trying her hand at producing, was a disaster. Sarah Jessica Parker voices Kael’s reviews; filmmakers Quentin Tarantino, Paul Schrader, and Francis Ford Coppola and critics Camille Paglia, Molly Haskell, Greil Marcus, and David Edelstein speak to her enormous gifts and influence.

Presented with support from the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Fund.

USA    2018    98 MINS.    JUNO FILMS


“Kael’s blunt, brilliant, wryly amused prose is resuscitated with lively affection… Interviewing Kael’s acolytes, admirers and grown daughter — as well as a slew of filmmakers — Garver nestles their observations within a jam-packed montage of film clips that he uses to illustrate Kael’s life and career… pays fitting homage, not just to a great writer but to a vanished age.”
– Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post

“An exquisitely crafted documentary about the woman who was arguably the greatest movie critic who ever lived. WHAT SHE SAID plays like a twirling kaleidoscope of Kael’s criticism and film history that’s fully in touch with the devil-may-care imperiousness of her personality. A pure, uncut hit of the tastiest cinephile candy imaginable.”
– Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“Adamantly engaging, full of lively, appreciative voices that, more than anything else, bring her enthusiasm and keen-mindedness back to life.”
– Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

“A celebration of the pleasure of intellectual and emotional response to art. Musters a heavyweight crowd of admirers and acolytes - with the odd demuring voice - and assembles a kaleidoscopic montage of movie clips, archive footage and Kael’s own home movies. Cinephiles will latch onto this lively, entertaining essay.”
– Jonathan Romney, Screen International

“All hail the queen. Kael was that rare creature, the superstar critic whose opinion could change the trajectory of a given film’s path to or from success.”
– Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer to Nail

“A no-brainer for film buffs. Candid and lively. Her writing still packs a punch and is as conversational as ever.”
– Kent Turner,

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