Culture Gabfest: Brave, The Newsroom, Andrew Sarris

Slate's weekly roundtable.
June 27 2012 11:54 AM

The Culture Gabfest, “Vamp” Edition

Listen to Slate's show about the new Pixar movie Brave, Aaron Sorkin’s latest offering The Newsroom, and the legacy of film critic Andrew Sarris.


Listen to Culture Gabfest No. 197 with David Haglund, Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner by clicking the arrow on the audio player below:

And join the lively conversation on the Culturefest Facebook page here:


The Summer Strut playlist is back! Tell us what songs you’ll be strutting to this summer by posting songs you think we should include on the playlist at or emailing song names or links to

The sponsors of today’s show are and For, use the promo code “CULTUREFEST” for your no-risk free trial and bonus offer. Today’s show is also sponsored by Bing.

On this week’s Culture Gabfest, our critics discuss Brave, the first Pixar movie to feature a female lead; consider its post-feminist implications; and wonder where it stacks up in the Pixar body of work. The Gabfesters are then joined by Slate “Brow Beat” blog editor David Haglund to discuss Aaron Sorkin’s HBO workplace drama The Newsroom, its Sorkin archetypes, and whether it constitutes an enjoyable return to Sorkinland or a boiling vat of Boomer resentment. Finally, they discuss the legacy of film critic Andrew Sarris, his auteur theory, and his debates with colleague Pauline Kael.

Here are some links to the things we discussed this week:

Dana’s review of Brave for Slate
Feminist response and backlash in response to Pixar’s first female lead
Spirited Away
and the movies of Hayao Miyazaki

Aaron Sorkin’s body of work, including his plays The Farnsworth Invention and Hidden in This Picture; his television shows Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Sports Night, and The West Wing; and his movies Moneyball, The Social Network, and A Few Good Men
David Haglund on watching everything ever written by Aaron Sorkin for Slate’s “Completist”
The supercut of Sorkin dialogue recycled throughout his body of work
The cultural authority of the news anchors of yesteryear, Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite

Andrew Sarris’ essay "Notes on the Auteur Theory in 1962"
Sarris’ top 10 lists from 1958 through 2006
Sarris’ reviews for the New York Observer and the Village Voice
The French film criticism and theory magazine Cahiers du Cinéma, which originated “la politique des Auteurs,” the idea Sarris translated as “auteur theory”
French New Wave
directors Jean-Luc Godard, Éric Rohmer, and François Truffaut
Auteurs Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Francis Ford Coppola, Jean Renoir, and Orson Welles
Writer/showrunners Aaron Sorkin, David Chase, David Simon, Matthew Weiner
Andrew Sarris’ response to Pauline Kael’s 1971 New Yorker essay "Raising Kane"
Pauline Kael’s research appropriation for “Raising Kane”
Sarris on Douglas Sirk
Sarris’ categories of directors
Kael’s 1963 essay "Circles and Squares"
Brian Kellow’s biography of Pauline Kael, A Life in the Dark
Last Tango in Paris
reviewed by Kael for The New Yorker
Bonnie and Clyde
reviewed by Kael
A two-part analysis of Sarris’ and Kael’s disagreements about auteur theory: Part I, Part II


Dana’s pick: Following a Gabfest listener’s post on our Facebook page on the humility of staying silent on cultural products, Dana endorses doing nothing as the ultimate summer activity, specifically: staring at the wall, petting your dog, and letting your mind wander
Julia’s pick: A song to (summer) strut to: "I Love It" by Icona Pop
Stephen’s picks: Pauline Kael’s 1971 New Yorker essay "Raising Kane" and Chris Eigeman’s Salon piece "Trust Me on This: ‘Abbey Road’ "

Outro: “I Love It” by Icona Pop

You can email us at

This podcast was produced by Mark Phillips. Our intern is Sally Tamarkin.

Follow us on the new Culturefest Twitter feed. And please Like the Culture Gabfest on Facebook.

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

Stephen Metcalf is Slate's critic at large. He is working on a book about the 1980s.

Dana Stevens is Slate's movie critic.

Julia Turner is the editor in chief of Slate and a regular on Slate's Culture Gabfest podcast.



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