The recent disparaging attack on the critical profession made by Richard Schickel was pretty astounding; even more so for those who (like me) still consider Schickel’s 1968 article one of the best and most clear-eyed manifestos of adventurous film criticism. Here’s the Schickel I prefer:
It seems to me that all criticism is an effort at self-integration, and while a plausible case could be made that such efforts are harder to bring off in our fragmented and alienation-prone times, it is difficult to believe that the movie critic is uniquely cursed. All of the arts are, and for some time have been, in a state of flux bordering on anarchy. Is it harder for the movie critic to leap from Andy Warhol to Ingmar Bergman than it is for the art critic to leap from Warhol do Willem De Kooning? I don’t think so. There are few absolutes left in life or in art, and for the critic this ought to be less a burden than a challenge. It makes his work more of an adventure, perhaps more of a creative experience than it may have been in more settled times, when a recourse to academic rules of artistic composition could settle more arguments then they now do.
It seems to me that the modern critic is, in fact, luckier than most of his contemporaries, for he is regularly forced to sit down in front of a blank sheet of paper and coherently organize his responses to a wide variety of stimuli. There is no better integrative experience available, and the critic's good fortune consists precisely in being obliged frequently to undergo it. If, at the outset, he finds it painful, he will soon develop his spiritual and intellectual muscles to the point where he can accomplish his particular yoga exercises with relative ease. Or he will cease to be a critic. Or he will be such a poor one that he will have little influence.
(Richard Schickel, Introduction [in:] Richard Schickel, John Simon (ed.), Film 67/68: An Anthology by the National Society of Film Critics, New York 1968, pp. 13–14.)