Andrew Sarris’ most recognizable influence may have been The American Cinema, the book that established the auteur theory’s importance. But it was his endlessly-searching intelligence that made him so vital to the last days of his wonderfully long career. The Andrew I knew as a critic and a friend — and it was a great gift to have known him — is visible in Andrew Sarris: Critic in Focus, a short by Casimir Nozkowski centered around an interview with Andrew in late 2010. As you’ll see, it captures his wit, warmth and generosity, the personal qualities that always shaped his writing. And it displays one of the essential qualities of a great critic — he was fearless about revisiting movies and revising opinions, always looking for something new, ready to discover another favorite.
This 11-minute short offers a lovely personal view of Andrew, sitting in his living room talking about films. He tells a fantastic family story, in which toddler Andrew, being pushed in a stroller by his mother, jumps out and races into a movie theater. (I believe it.)
And the film shatters any narrow stereotype about him as a critic. Here he says he’s less interested in the Pantheon of great directors than he used to be, that he has become more inclusive. His confident, probing intelligence – and character – allows him to causally veer away from the idea that made him famous. Andrew was a thinker, not a careerist.
Shown at Telluride last year, Andrew Sarris: Critic in Focus has just been posted on-line. Thanks to Casimir (whose other shorts can be found at youtube.com/casimirn) for preserving and letting us share one more conversation with Andrew. He is irreplaceable.