Discussing Kael's response to Raiders of the Lost Ark, the George Lucas-Steven Spielberg 1981 tribute to the old movie serials, Kellow's summary encapsulates the disappointment so many feel when watching talented filmmakers waste their time on action-packed but emotionally empty epics. Raiders, writes Kellow,
... appealed to an incredibly wide base, but Pauline regarded it as a perfect symbol of the rise of the marketing executives; in her review of the picture, she pointed out that marketing budgets often surpass total production budgets, a practice that "could become commonplace." She found Raiders didn't allow you "time to breathe - or to enjoy yourself much, either. It's an encyclopedia of high spots from the old serials, run through at top speed and edited like a great trailer - for flash." At last, she could see the direction in which Jaws had led. Its excesses were especially a pity, she thought, because both Lucas and Spielberg were loaded with movie-making talent. She observed that if Lucas "[wasn't] hooked on the crap of his childhood - if he brought his resources to bear on some projects with human beings in them - there's no imagining the result." But it's doubtful that Lucas paid attention to her admonishment - not in the face of the $230 million gross racked up by Raiders.
Brian Kellow, Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark (Viking, 2012), p295.In response to Disney's purchase this week of the Lucas/Star Wars empire, Richard Brody, the New Yorker's film blogger (is he too geekish to be an actual columnist?), has just written a positive post about US independent filmmaking.