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April 04, 1976 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1976-04-04

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Page Four


Sundav. ADiril 4. 1976 11


, I r ! f t v



Kael's reviews reflect a way with words
but ignore the historical view of movies

FeministWeideger examines
attitudes toward.'the curse'

REELING by Pauline Kael.
Little, Brown and Company,
Boston - Toronto. 497 pp.,
American film industry in
the '60's and the emergence of
Pauline Kael as our leading
film critic have, fortuitously,
The two are made for each,
other: Kael has used her post
at The New Yorker to champion
a whole new generation of film-
makers, artists like Robert Alt-
man, Francis Ford Coppola and
Martin Scorsese, who have tri-
umphed - despite heavy odds
- over the movie moguls who
have stifled creative work for
the past 30 years. She's herald-
ed the arrival of such innova-
tive, personal films as Bonnie
and Clyde, McCabe and Mrs.
Miller and Last Tango in Paris;
and she is convinced not only
are American movies better
than ever, but that they repre-

sent the most significant art about the current movies she
form of our time. i loves.
"A few decades hence, these As a thinker, Kael has her
years may appear to be the weak moments, but as a writer,
closest our movies have come her work is easily superior to
to the tangled, bitter flowering that of anyone else in the field.
of Americanletters in the early Her prose is sparkling - she
1850's," she says in the fore- writes with such enthusiasm
ward to Reeling, her latest col- for her subject that she rarely
lection of movie reviews. Writ- adopts the dry, academic tone
ten between September, 1972 often found in her contempor-
and May, 1975, the book serves aries' writings, like Stanley
as both a literate, entertaining Kaufman or Andrew Sarris.
guide to recent films, and a At the same time, she avoids
record of Kael's love affair the cliches that most critics
with the American cinema. rely on, and she stays away
from the simple, unequivocal
TI NLIKE OTHER film critics, putdowns that John Simon spe-
Kael has never been as cializes in. Kael can be pointed,
fond of aesthetic theories as she even angry at times when the
is of her favorite movies, so her subject matter demands it (note
approach is to tackle the films "On the Future of Movies" in
one at a time in a catch-as- Reeling), but she will always
catch-can style rather than at- attempt to provide ample sup-
tempt to assess the larger is- port for her criticism - she
sues. She views herself as the refuses to simply label and dis-
ultimate fan rather than a miss even her worst enemies.
critic; she doesn't attempt to Some of her most famous and
be a scholar or historian, in- engaging work is to be found in'
stead she writes feverishly Reeling. Readers may already

be familiar with her articles on '>''
Last Tango in Paris, Nashville, F
The Godfather (Part II), and>
Mean Streets, but there area
also many more included in this4
collection that are equally en-
tertaining. These reviews, con-
cerning the cream of the crop"
of early 70's films, are among
the best that Kael has written.
her hymns in praise of ta-
ented director Robert Altman-
contained in this book are her when she makes such outland-
comments on Images, The Long ish statements.
California Split, and Nashville. TIMES, HER prejudice
Goodbye, Thieves Like Us, against almost all foreign
When it comes to Altman, Kael filmmakers smacks of jingoism.I
pulls out all the stops. She re- imakdts againos
alies ha Almans norhodxTime and time again, she pans
alizes that Altman's unorthodox,j the work of such artists as Fel-
personal style of filmmaking lini Truffaut, Rohmer and
doesn't lend itself to orthodox Bergm aS, evider anot
film criticism, for it lacks the Bergman. She is evidently not
gimmickry that is responsible "excited by these directors; and
for the success of most Holl -it shows in her criticism.
fo teruccessnm st K ll All of these shortcomings
wood entertainment. KaeI is amount to a chink in her criti-
able to sense the "beauty with cal armor that seriously flaws '
out artifice" that lifts evein I R e e I i n g and, indeed, all of
nor Altman films such as Kael's work - but it's still not
Thieves Like Us out of the or- enough to outweigh the pleas-
dinary run of commercial pap. ures that her very best reviews
In these reviews, the scope offer. One could argue that her
of her knowledge about film, I!faults are, in fact, a blessing
and the fluid, engaging prose in disguise. Perhaps her lack
style act on us, without our of judgment and her prejudice I
knowing it. Kael has such a gift against some filmmakers are'
for writing that she can get by the very qualities that keep her
with a great deal of muddled mind - after tens of thousands
thinking and outright contra-, of movies - from going soft
dictions. Kael may be the or cynical. Hed unabashed love
grandmaster of today's film of American movies may blind
reviewers but that is only be- ' her to other artists, but I be-!
cause of the paucity of the j lieve that it's this special en-
competition. Her work falls thusiasm that inspires her best
short of the best criticism, like writing.
Shaw's or Baudlaire's, because Like it or not, the American
he larger point of view, the cinema is the closest thing we
critical perspective, always have to a national theatre, and:
eludes her. ~

PAUSE by Paula Weideger.
Knopf, New York. 257 pp., $10.
PLINY, THE Roman historian,
- called menstrual b 1 o o d a
"fatal poison" capable of de-
stroying grass, causing fruit to
fall from branches, and dulling;
razors. Among Australian abori-
gines, it is believed that the
mere sight of menstrual blood
can cause a young man's hair:
to turn gray and his strengthE
and vigor to dissipate at an!
early age. As recently as the
turn of this century, Greek
Orthodox women were prohibit-
ed from t a k i n g communion
while they were menstruating.
Throughout history, menstrual
blood has been considered ta-
boo. It was assigned supernatu-
ral and evil powers, and in
primitive societies, women have
often been isolated in remote
huts during their "dangerous"'
period. And although women
today are not subjected to such
extreme forms of punishment,
they often find that their month-
ly cycles provoke shame or em-
barrassment. A menstruating
woman is "on the rag" and af-
flicted with "the curse." Accord-
ing to a common religious myth,
her monthly cycle was God's!
retribution for Eve's sin in the
Garden of Eden.
Feminist Paula Weideger, in:
her new book Menstruation and
Menopause, examines the roots
and causes of the menstrual ta-
boo, which she terms "univer-
sal." Weideger believes that this:
taboo is the result of man's
historic fear and envy of wo-
man's ability to bleed when not
ill and his desire to keep her in
a subservient role.
'T HE MENSTRUAL t a b o o,
which most plausibly arose
from man's envy of woman and:
need to devalue her and over-
power her has now been ac-
cepted by women. . . . It hasI
persisted for many thousands of
years and in many different
cultures because men have had
the power to continue their!

domination of women," she,
Weideger, an M.A. in psy-
chology and a member of the
Women's Health Forum in New
York City, asserts that it is
necessary for women to cast
aside age-old myths concerning
menstruation and take "full
possession" of their bodies. The
menstrual taboo, she argues, is
"alive and flourishing" and "ful-
filling certain psychic and eco-
nomic needs."
''HIS MIGHT appear a some-
what farfetched contention
until one recalls that women are
often believed to be uncapable
of holding certain types of jobs
because of their monthly cycles:
and consequent fluctuations in:
hormonal levels. Only six years
ago, Hubert Humphrey's per-
sonal physician, Dr. Edgar;
Berman, ignited the furor of
many women when he declared
that "raging hormonal influ-
ences" made women unfit for!
high pressure jobs.
Weideger, while she does ac-:
knowledge that changes in hor-I
monal level may affect a wo-:
man's physical and m e n t a I
state, feels that much of the
depresison and discomfort asso-
ciated with menstruation has its
roots in the menstrual taboo.
Her contention is supported by
anthropologist Margaret Mead'sI
discoveries. According to Mead,I
in Samoa, where the menstrual!
taboo is nearly non-existent, I
pain and depresison during men-
struation is extremely uncom-
In order to knock down the
myths and misconceptions sur-

rounding w o m a n 's monthly
cycle, Weideger examines men-
struation and menopause from
every conceivable angle. She
discusses all the biological as-
pects of the monthly cycle, and
does so in simple, unscientific
language. She also devotes a
large portion of the book to the
physical and mental discom-
forts associated with menstrua-
tion and menopause.
DESPITE THE o v e r a l l
strength of Weideger's book,
there are some points on which
she can legitimately be cri-
cized. For instance, she en-
dorses estrogen replacement
therapy for menopausal women,
a medical treatment which has
recently come under severe at-
tack because of its link to the
significant increase in uterine
However, it cannot be denied
that Weideger's book is the defi-
hitive work on menstruation and
menopause. Unlike much of the
other material on this subject,
her book is aimed at the aver-
age woman-everyone who has
been embarrassed when buying
a box of Kotex or mystified by
gynecological terms will find
solace and reassurance in Wei-
deger's explanations and her
direct style. Menstruation and
Menopause should be read by
all junior high school girls-
usually the hapless victims of
animated, Disneyesque sperm-
egg films and sweaty sessions
of euphemisms with an embar-
rassed mother.
Cheryl Pilate is the Editor of
the Sunday Magazine.


If you had anything to do with
the following organizations:

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Martin Sostre Defense Committee
Mortar Board
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Native American Events
Rackham Student Government
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Regents Candidates Night
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Pilot Program
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. Voter. Registration City Charter
Amendment Campaign



For example, in her review of
Ingmar Bergman's Cries and
Whispers, she claims that
"Bergman is unusual among
film artists in that he is an ar-
tist in precisely those terms
drawn from the other arts
which some of us have been
trying to free movie aesthetics
from." It's difficult for the

Jeff Sorensen is
Arts Fditor.

The Dail 's

reader to take Kael seriously


_ _

An exciting weekend for thinking young Jewish adults.
Probe your Jewish Identity.
Find out the current situations in Middle East politics and
World Jewry.
Find out about programs to travel. study. work, or live

-.- -- I - r JI rh-
in Israel.
sponsored by the Detroit Israel Aliyah Center
APRIL 9-11 At Camp Judson-Collins near Jackson
$20 includes meals, lodging, and transportation
For more info. and registration, call Elli: 761-1654 or Lynn: 663-3935
" , ..... l.y . :: Y " ~:::rx .:: r . ,Y. r Y:r .' . 'b. . . . . . . . . ._ ____
White Roots of Peace
The Iroguois people have always considered an aggressive
"pursuit of peace"to be their mission In September, 1969,
a group of youncq Mohawks set out to renew their com-
mitment to these traditions. Since they followed the in-
structions of the White Roots of Peace, they took that
- as a name to symbolize their group's task. Since then,
the original group has been ioined by peoples of other
4 Indian nations as they criss-crossed the North American
continent to meet in hundreds of reservations, colleges, pri-
sons, and with other interested qroups.
For traditionalist Indians-those who still keep to their
original values-their message is one of hope and en-
couragement. Their work is to establish revitalized Indian
- strength and unity in this land and life.
For tens of thousands of non-Indians, the White Roots of Peace have provided an
interpretation of current events, traditional views of peace and harmony with the
Creation, and brotherhood for all peoples.
ANN ARBOR-Sunday, April 4th-
Michigan Union Ballroom
.........A x 4 : : av.m^.r:.f.. ..;n .; .:s: .g %;

f KaeI comes as close to being a
poet laureate for the movies as
anyone who is writing today. To{
'dismiss Kael for her faults is
to likewise dismiss the most
articulate and convincing:
spokesperson for the movies,
the livliest and most entertain-I
ing of the arts.


Author finds speech
tour tiresome chore

(Continued from page 3
maintains in her study that
historical precedent, legal sup-
port and "a surprising amount
of cultural encouragement,"
have helped nurture and pre-
serve men's high tolerance of
rape crimes, she refuses to
sympathize with their attitudes.
"No, I just can't," she insists.
"I understand it. I understand
it, but I don't tolerate it. And
it's not an excuse - historical
precedent. It just won't do."
Have men felt threatened by
her controversial study?
"I don't know. Obviously the
porn kings are threatened be-I
cause I think they understand1
that I mean to put them out
of business," she says, referring
to her contention that elimina-
tion of pornography as well as
prostitution would result in the
elimination of rape.
"Lots of women are threatened
by the book," she continues.
Her smile has wilted and a
serious, concerned expression
marks her face. "I've had many
women tell me that they've felt
terrified to open my book, be-
cause they know what's in it
and they don't want to know
the truth. I mean, we're sitting
here smoking, we know the
truth about cigarettes but, you

know, we prefer to forget it,
and' to keep smoking. There's
lots of women who prefer not
to know the extent of male hos-
tility against us. They just pre-
fer to live lives and not have
to face that, because the im-
plications are enormous."
BR N MLLER had earlier
todhraudience of a story
that Hustler - the newest maTl
pornorgraphy magazine to hit
city news stands - had written
about her. The magazine's edi-
tors sent Brownmiller galley
proofs of the story which is
slated to appear in next month's
edition. She read the proofs and
found that the writer's closing
remark was, "And the next
time I see Susan Brownmiller,
I think I'm going to rape her."
On stage, she laughed care-
lessly and shrugged her should-
ers when her statement drew
a muffled gasp from her audi-
Backstage she's thinking- a bit
more seriously about such re-
actions and a nervous sigh is
her immediate answer when
asked if she ever worries about
such threats.
Drawing on her Carlton, she
ponders the question.
"I try not to," she' says. Her
voice has dropped to a whisper.
"I try not to."


Prints & Posters.............40%
New Books...............40%
Used Hardcovers .......... 40%
Used Paperbacks.......:..60 %
Calendars ................70%
Shelving, etc.


You were being funded by the
student government.


The U-M Men's Glee Club

Will Continue in Business at the SAME
LOCATION for Years into the future.


6:30 A.M.-10:00 P.M.





and get in on a special(!) 20th Anniversary Songfest
by those fun-loving fellows,

Black State Senator from Georgia
"Future Role of Minorities
in the Political System"


n ronon I i

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