Actor/director Paul Mazurksy, of Down and Out in Beverly Hills fame, was just named the new film critic for VanityFair.com.

“I wanted a film critic who’s been inside the Hollywood trenches; one who would bring a richly seasoned viewpoint to current cinema,” Vanity Fair EIC Graydon Carter says of the hire. “Mazursky fits the bill to a T. There isn’t an aspect of moviemaking that he doesn’t know first hand. And he has the scars to prove it.”

It’s definitely an interesting hire. Mazursky brings an insider element to the job that gives him technical and industry expertise your average critic lacks. He also, obviously, brings an air of celebrity–which doesn’t hurt in attracting eyeballs.

Mazursky addresses the role of the 21st century film critic in his introductory post.

So, do critics matter? It depends on to whom. To the young audience? I’m not sure they even read reviews, in the era of RottenTomatoes.com. Does it matter to the over-45s? Sure, if they want culture and social problems—and don’t mind a little sex and violence. I’d like to believe they want to be moved to tears by the end of a great film.

Do reviews matter to the studios? Sure. They’ll be happy with a rave. But they’re capable of manufacturing a full-page ad with blockbuster quotes from Grade C critics.

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