In a chat with In Contention‘s Kris Tapley, Last Chance Harvey star Dustin Hoffman confesses to having “strong feelings” about film criticism. “There’s no job description,” he says. “You see someone’s suddenly a new critic, and you say, ‘Oh, I know that name.’ Yeah, he was a food critic. So the newspaper moved him up from food critic to film critic, which is fine, because everybody is a critic.
“But there are other people who know film, who really understand it, maybe even on the level [that] Scorsese does.” That’s me! I’m that guy! I may not have quite the same open-door, Michael Powell-worshipping passion that Scorsese has, but I’m from the same fraternity, the same church, the same faith. If anything I probably care about movies too much, to the point of neurosis and basic denial of life habits.
“I name Scorsese because he’s probably seen as much or more film than anyone I’m aware of, and is sensitive to film deterioration,” Hofman goes on. “And the fact that these critics see so many films, I don’t know…if it’s a job it’s already questionable. And I do think that films are meant to seen with audiences, and they don’t do that. There has to be some self-consciousness, I think.”
At the very least, Tapley writes, Hoffman feels that “the critical fraternity should be more steeped in the process than they are.”
What…the making of movies? Hofman knows that can’t happen without integrity issues coming up. And yet most of the people I know in the writing-about-movies racket are as steeped in the process of knowing movies and as much of the attendant political hoo-hah as they could possibly absorb without being p.a.’s or actors or producers.