Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Stanley Kauffmann, Film Critic, 1916-2013

Stanley Kauffmann, in 1974 from "Why I'm Not Bored," on the value of movies:

"Concurrent with our lives runs this muddied, quasi-strangulated, prostituted art, so lifecrammed and responsive and variegated and embracing, so indefinable no matter how long one strings out phrases like these, that to deny it seems to me to deny the worst and the best in yourself, a chance to help clarify which is which, and which is in the ascendant on any particular day. No matter how much I know about a film's makers or its subject before I go, I never really know what it's going to do to me: depress me with its vileness, or just roll past, or change my life in some degree, or some combination of all three, or affect me in some new way that I cannot imagine. So I like being asked whether filmgoing ever gets boring: it makes me think of what I don't know about the next film I'm going to see."

Roger Ebert, in 1997 from Roger Ebert's Book of Film, on Kauffmann's skill as a critic:

"He is the sanest of critics and the one most likely to place any film within its wider context of literature, philosophy, art, or politics. I read other critics for their insights, their writing, or simply to see what they think; I don't much care whether I agree with them or not. But when I read Kauffmann, who became a regular weekly destination for me five years before I wrote my own first reviews, more is at stake; on important films, if we agree, I am gratified, and if we disagree, I am likely to go back to my own review and have another uneasy look at it. It's not that I assume he is right and I am wrong; it's that after Kauffmann disagrees, I wonder if he was perhaps more right."

Stanley Kauffmann, the longtime film critic for The New Republic, died this morning.