“Although Pauline Kael knew comparatively little about how movies got made, she was unbeatable at taking off from what she had seen. But beyond that, she would take off from what she had written, and there was a new theory every two weeks. A lot of her theories had to do with loves and hates. She thought Robert Altman was a genius. He can certainly make a movie, but if it hasn’t got a script, then he makes Pret-a-Porter . That’s one of the most salutary lessons of this book: what makes the movie isn’t just who directed it, or who’s in it, it’s how it relates to the real world. That principle really starts to matter when it comes to movies that profess to understand history, and thus to affect the future. Several quite good critics in various parts of the world knew there was something seriously wrong with Steven Spielberg’s Munich, but they didn’t know how to take it down. If they could have put the lessons of this book together, they would have found out how. Munich might have survived being directed by someone who knows about nothing except movies. But it was also written by people who don’t know half enough about politics.” — Clive James reviewing “AMERICAN MOVIE CRITICS: An Anthology From the Silents Until Now” — edited by Phillip Lopate (Library of America) in Sunday’s N.Y. Times.