Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dept. of Fired Critics

Former Village Voice critic J. Hoberman on whether movies matter as much as they did in the great old days of Sarris v. Kael, and on what a critic's job should be. (NYT)
J. HOBERMAN Jonas was no longer at The Voice when I started reviewing in late 1977, but he’d been important to me both as a reader and a filmgoer. I saw myself following his example, and also creating a beat. In addition to the avant-garde there were many things that the paper’s two established critics, Andrew Sarris and Tom Allen, were just not that interested in covering — documentaries, independent cinema, museum shows and most foreign films. To the degree I thought about my role, I saw myself as a journalist (reporting on movies people might not otherwise know about) and as someone contributing to something I’d call, after Jonas’s magazine, “film culture.” On succeeding Sarris as lead critic in 1988 I continued what I saw as a Voice tradition — emphasizing work I felt significant, regardless of its commercial clout or mass appeal.

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