What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael

View Trailer Variety Review

Writing for The New Yorker for nearly 25 years, Kael’s charismatic voice transformed not only the field of film criticism, but also, by virtue of her influence over studios, filmmakers, film schools, and audiences, the course of movie history. Nearly 20 years after her death, this documentary summons her indomitable spirit – feisty, witty and above all free-thinking – with interviews, archival clips, and snippets from the movies she loved to write and talk about. Upstate Films presents WHAT SHE SAID as a Virtual Cinema offering with a taped introduction by film critic and Hudson Valley resident Thelma Adams.

“With Sarah Jessica Parker reading Pauline’s words on the soundtrack, 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.” -Owen Gleiberman, Variety


Kael indisputably transformed film into an art form in the eyes of the public. As a result of her writing, the pleasant weekend pastime quality of movie-going suddenly became a must-see, do-or-die, high-stakes experience.

For Kael, watching films was a visceral adventure; she responded to them as if they were real events. Her vital spirit, cocksure attitude, fevered instincts, and withering wisecracks leapt off the page and made you laugh. And as Quentin Tarantino once observed, Kael was so on the nose at times that she could sometimes change your mind about a film you may have thought was pretty good.

Director Rob Garver first read Pauline Kael’s work as a young person in the 1980s, and he says that the fiery passion with which she wrote about film made a deep impression on him. With this film, Rob wanted to take the excitement that he felt while reading Kael’s work and translate it to the screen.

US/2018/dir by Rob Garver/98 mins.