Kael’s taste tended toward quick pacing and a down-to-earth story that could grab an audience and make it feel something. A movie didn’t have to be hysterically funny to win her over; she found it especially thrilling when a loose, jocular tone somehow eloped with otherwise straight-faced genres—hence her lifelong allegiance to Jean Renoir and Robert Altman and Jonathan Demme. Praising a movie by another one of her favorites, Jean-Luc Godard, Kael wrote that its “fusion of attitudes—seeing characters as charming and poetic and, at the same time, preposterous and absurd—is one of Godard’s contributions to modern film.” Her most withering scorn was reserved for movies that she took to deny the possibility of laughter or pretended they were above it—her blacklist included much of Bergman, most of Kubrick, and pretty much all of Hitchcock.

more from Jana Prikryl at the NYRB here.