"Kael didn’t just say, This is a bad movie because it fails to turn me on. Instead, she strung movies loosely together, as if mapping out the lines of tradition, and weather-tested them against a couple of things: authenticity of experience and the proved canon of noncinematic art. “Hiroshima Mon Amour,” “The Misfits,” and “La Vérité” failed the first test by moralizing and pathologizing what happened onscreen; certain clued-in viewers were supposed to feel virtuous for watching those films, she thought, which was a contrived and contingent experience. “La Notte,” “Last Year at Marienbad,” and “La Dolce Vita” failed the second test, because their anomie lacked the unmistakable logic of, say, Chekhov’s. (“At a performance of Chekhov’s ‘Three Sisters,’ only a boob asks, ‘Well, why don’t they go to Moscow?’ We can see why they don’t.”) Kael was often accused of watching for plot and character more than for technical craft, and it is not hard to see why. Plot and character communicate effortlessly across time. The finer points of cinematic grammar require cultural education to be appreciated. She cared about audiences’ raw responses—amazement, laughter, recognition—because those responses indicated whether a movie could speak for itself in the long run. She was dowsing for film classics with her nervous system as a guide."