Film critic/scholar Andrew Sarris died recently, and there's been a bevy of good pieces on him. I didn't read his reviews regularly, but occasionally I caught them, and I did read several of his seminal essays when I was in college. Film can still sometimes be derided as childish, and writing about film seen as a scam. It was exciting to see Sarris and others take the medium seriously and write about it insightfully. They helped develop a vocabulary for film criticism. Sarris is best known for introducing the "auteur" theory of cinema to America from France, and for his "pantheon" ranking films and filmmakers. The auteur theory works wonderfully for some directors, and doesn't for others, but Sarris would agree. And while some of his rankings seemed silly or certainly questionable, the point of Sarris is that he loved film and started a conversation. In the same vein, I can't get deeply into the Andrew Sarris versus Pauline Kael feuds, because I don't see why I can't like them both. If you truly love film, and aren't too obnoxious, you're in the club.
Here are his top ten lists (some great choices) and some Sarris quotations.
Here are the obituaries from The New York Times, The Washington Post and NY Daily News.
Kenneth Turan wrote a great appreciation of Sarris in The Los Angeles Times.
Roy Edroso wrote a lovely remembrance.
Self-Styled Siren passes on a great anecdote and quotation.
David Bordwell has a marvelous long piece on Sarris, and links several pieces by others.
Richard Brody wrote about Sarris in The New Yorker (and here's an earlier piece by him about Sarris vs. Kael).
Roger Ebert wrote a nice piece.
Several writers at the Film Society at Lincoln Center wrote remembrances.
DougJ at Balloon Juice posted a thread for Sarris.