Last fall I sang the praises of the new-and-improved film review show “At the Movies” for sacking empty-headed critics Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz in favor of the knowledgeable and entertaining A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips. I was excited to once again enjoy the show that got me into movies, and I proudly proclaimed that the program had found its Hollywood ending.

Smash cut to right now, and that’s been replaced by something more akin to a New Hollywood ending — you know, the kind of the “Easy Rider” or “Apocalypse Now” variety, where the death of an icon becomes the symbol for the death of an era. “At the Movies” was canceled on March 25, after over three decades on the air. When the news was announced I’m sure Roger Ebert himself, who’s been mute since 2006 after undergoing surgery for thyroid cancer, suddenly regained his voice and whispered, “The horror … the horror … .”

Excessive? Not if you listen to the ever-dwindling circle of people who are still able to claim full-time jobs as film critics. The art of film criticism is dying, they say, and some feel it’s already dead. The public doesn’t want serious discussions about the movies anymore. The public doesn’t want any discussion about movies at all.

Well, if the practice of criticism as we know it today is dead, then it’s time for a rebirth. Just as past generations of revolutionary filmmakers used to demand creative resurgences in their art, I think it’s time for the critical community to do the same.

In 1962, a group of young German directors signed the Oberhausen Manifesto, which called for a new style of German feature film following the collapse of the old model under economic stress. “The old film is dead. We believe in the new one,” they said, and they meant it. And so, in the same spirit, I would like to present:

The Film Critic’s Manifesto

We, the critics of tomorrow, recognize that there has been an erosion of the classic traditions and values that old-fashioned film critics used to hold so dear. We know that hardly anyone is watching “At the Movies” these days, and that the slow and painful death of printed news has eliminated the need for each publication to distinguish its own unique critical opinion.

We are also aware that Roger Ebert is planning to launch a new film review show, which he promises on his website will “go full-tilt New Media.” We remain skeptical of the promise that this alone will suddenly cause people to find film criticism relevant again.

But at the same time, we recognize the need for film criticism to continue in some form. The box office is an absolute powerhouse, and the act of moviegoing still dominates our culture. More and more films, both large and small, are fighting every week for a spot in the public consciousness. The ability to sift through this massive entertainment conglomerate and debate the lasting impact of new and old releases on the medium is just as invaluable today as it ever was, perhaps more so.

The problem is that, with the unprecedented degree to which people can share their opinions over the Internet, literally everyone has become a critic. But more than that, everyone has become a destructive critic. Snark and cynicism rule the ways we think about movies today. Films with gumption and purpose are routinely bullied, beaten and dismissed in pithy asides on message boards. Even the so-called professional critics love to decry certain mindless blockbusters and call the public morons for flocking to them.

We present a new kind of film criticism, which we would like to winkingly deem “constructive criticism.” A constructive critic does not feel a need to “hate” movies just for the sake of being contrarian and attracting attention. Nor does a constructive critic bow to the whims of the studios and give vapid, robotic blurbs for movie posters, because that would be destructive to the art of criticism. “A slam-bang action thrill ride!” does not exist in the vocabulary of a constructive critic.

Rather, a constructive critic embraces the new and exciting while treasuring the old and timeless. He or she is always excited to be on the cusp of the cinematic world and isn’t afraid to trumpet new movies as masterpieces despite any potential threat to his or her stature. A constructive critic doesn’t fight new trends like 3-D or pronounce young, ambitious directors “pretentious.” There is one singular goal in the mind of a constructive critic: To foster an environment for the continued discussion of the film medium as a whole.

And we feel that anyone can give constructive criticism, because after all, everyone’s a critic. This is about bringing film discussion to the masses so we don’t all just become passive consumers of whatever the studios decide to throw at us. This is about Kevin Smith, on his Twitter account, comparing the panning of his movie “Cop Out” to “bullying a retarded kid,” and us realizing that he’s a little right and a lot wrong.

We want to believe in the power of criticism because we’re better critics than we are filmmakers. We do what we do with the realization that we all secretly wish we could be as talented and influential as the big-shot directors who have made it in the business, though of course they made it there thanks in part to critics. With constructive criticism, we aim to recognize our limitations and embrace our love of the cinema, now and forevermore.

The old film criticism is dead. We believe in the new one.

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