Stanley Kaufmann RIP

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John F
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Stanley Kaufmann RIP

Post by John F » Thu Oct 10, 2013 5:37 am

He was America's foremost film critic for many years. It's a long obituary; here's the beginning.

Stanley Kauffmann, Critic, Dies at 97; Spent a Half-Century at the Movies
Published: October 9, 2013

Stanley Kauffmann, whose literate, tightly constructed movie reviews appeared in The New Republic for more than a half-century and set a standard for critical ease and erudition, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 97.

His death was announced by Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, who said the cause was pneumonia. Mr. Kauffmann wrote for the magazine until his last months.

Mr. Kauffmann went from being an actor and a stage manager with a Manhattan repertory company to a book editor and a writer of vaguely philosophical novels before becoming a film critic at The New Republic in 1958. His reflective, highly wrought essays appeared weekly for the next 55 years, with a break in 1966, when he was, briefly, the chief theater critic for The New York Times.

He also doubled as the theater critic for The New Republic from 1969 to 1979, but it was as a film critic that his influence was felt, even if it was hard to define, since he belonged to no camp. His abiding interest in theatrical givens like theme, story, dramatic construction and character could make him seem old-fashioned, and set him in direct opposition to the auteur school, with its emphasis on the formal aspects of film. Readers came to him for reviews that read like mini-tutorials, the product of a deeply literary mind and a graceful pen.

Although resolutely high-minded, with a strong bias toward foreign art films, he was not elitist. He championed Jane Fonda early in her career and preferred Britain’s lightly satirical Ealing comedies, like “Kind Hearts and Coronets,” to the kitchen-sink realism of the British New Wave. He forgave many sins in otherwise negligible films if they had a progressive social message.

“He was a literate, quarterly sort of writer, and to the extent that he had disciples, they wrote in quarterlies,” Phillip Lopate, the essayist and editor of “American Movie Critics: An Anthology From the Silents Until Now” (2006), said in an interview in 2011. “He had a good influence on film criticism by pushing it away from teenage gaga enthusiasm for the joy ride and toward adult responsibility.”.. ... at-97.html
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