Review Comment

International Film History (1930-60), International Film History (1960-90), Auteur Study-- Billy Wilder, Writing Film Criticism

March 05, 2004

Sarris, Andrew
International Film History (1930-60), International Film History (1960-90), Auteur Study-- Billy Wilder, Writing Film Criticism

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I agree with the previous reviewers insofar as the fact that Sarris isn't your typical professor. . . Thank GOD. He's self-effacing, but he also eschews feigned modesty. I don't know why people have qualms about Sarris' style. Chances are, they were influenced by his mode of thought before they even set foot into room 511. Don't expect Sarris to serve up his instruction like well-prepared feasts. You may have to forage through his digressive anecdotes for the golden nuggets of wisdom. The truth is, he's not "dotty" in the slightest. No matter how much his tales meander, they always wind up delivering a surprisingly cogent point-- that is, if you bear with him and listen. And, if you read any of his reviews in the Observer, you already know that this style of speaking probably derives from his much-loved bel lettre writing style. If you're expecting to be instructed, you'd do better to learn from Sarris as an example.

Prof. Sarris always tries to get a feel for what the young people today are like-- he gives class a somewhat homey feel, which I find most welcome. At the same time, he's not afraid to discuss the grittier aspects of film. In fact, Sarris brings up sensuality and sex in nearly every class-- only he doesn't coat the topics in slippery theoretics.

His writing film criticism class is wicked good. It's very small, and he tells you what he thinks of your review right then and there. Unlike some film profs here, he's very direct in his suggestions, as well as his praises.

Workload:

You get out of it what you put in. If wishes and buts were clusters of nuts, we'd all have a bowl of granola.

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