Lost In Netflix Land

No-o-o-o-o-o!!! Say not so. Duncan, don’t leave! What am I gonna do? Who am I gonna use as a guide for my Netflix queue? Don’t do it!

David Walters
via email

True Lover’s Lament

Congratulations, Duncan, on writing the best column ever (“So Long,” Movie Review, November 11). While sad about your leaving, your review about the state of movies nowadays was right on. Your mention of Tower Records really brought back fond memories. Your type of comprehensive reviewing is lost now on a generation raised on quick sound bites and the internet, where a thumbs-up and how many explosions a movie contains is all that counts. Dialogue and plot be damned. Duncan, you will be missed by all true movie lovers. I think of you as Henry Fonda in My Darling Clementine, riding out of town leaving the school maiden who hopes you’ll return someday. We can only hope.

Dan Adams
via email

Don’t Go

You can’t let Duncan go!!! Let him write about any movie he wants, anything he wants — just let him write. Get someone else to review the box office hits. Yes, many of us may have taken him for granted, gotten miffed at his critics (silently believed they must be “off” in some way), should have sent encouragement, but we’ve been eternally faithful all of these 38 years. You know we too don’t always speak computer, go to the often mindless drivel that passes for movies, do yearn for the good old days…we’re here, too, Duncan! So we understand your frustration. We merely ask that you don’t abandon us completely.

Thank you for your excellence all these years.

Pat Picchi
via email

My Pal Duncan

The day that I’ve been dreading has finally come: Duncan Shepherd is retiring from his weekly Reader column. Six years after Jonathan Saville’s departure, which left and continues to leave a terrible void in the classical music review section, we now have to face the fact that another quality critic leaves our weekly routine. The Reader table of contents line of “Duncan Shepherd signs off” was a punch to my stomach — to see no line there was always a letdown because that meant no movie review this week, but this was something else entirely. I knew what I’d find on page 112.

I’ve read Mr. Shepherd for more than 30 years and learned much from him. Early on I occasionally found his writing obtuse and frustrating, but he taught me true critical thinking. Through his writing I’ve come to regard him as a confidant and friend. Having never met him or even seen his picture, it was almost as if he never aged and would be around for as long as I wanted. My brother and I would always want to know what “Shepherd gave this film,” what hidden symbols he saw in this film or that, or “how did he so miss the boat on that one?” He had a voice at the table for a post-film discussion, and he always challenged me to be creative. As with any friend, I often disagreed with him, but that’s what makes friendships interesting and valuable — a unique perspective: sometimes it’s more interesting not to agree. It is very sad to know this chapter in my life has closed. He was 90 percent of why I went out of my way to pick up a Reader each week (I hardly ever read his reviews online). I now have that much less reason to look forward to the fourth day of the week.

I quote a line from his review of David Mamet’s Spartan: he “trusts us to catch up and keep up; expects us to suck it up and tough it out.” Yes, Duncan, you did. And now you expect us to make it on our own, think for ourselves, leave you time for other pleasures. Well, you’ve earned it. Thank you for your contribution to the life of the mind. I wish you the best and hope to meet you someday for a movie and coffee after, my treat.

Jeffrey Genzlinger
via email

Semper Superior

Ladies and Gents,

If he would be so disposed, a public reception for a consummate professional, Duncan Shepherd, would be a fine event indeed.

Having been initially stationed here in 1980, it’s been a real privilege to read his consistently superior work. There wasn’t a time when it ever appeared less than first-rate and, needless to say, his best effort.

Charge 10 to 15 bucks, serve some nice beverages, hors d’oeuvres, throw in some classical music and some movie posters, and I’m sure the Coen brothers’ crowd would come out of the woodwork!

After the retiring types retire, have an ’80s party! Would be a blast. Thanks for considering this letter and giving Duncan an unobstructed path to provide us with such fine material.

Best regards.

Lt. Col. George Murray USMC (ret)
via email

To Blog, Perhaps To Share

Concerning Duncan Shepherd’s retirement, all good things come to pass. Please consider, after a period of time, of course, a website, a blog, perhaps, to share your reviews of the movies you do choose to see. If the paragraph is too little, or too much, your star system would suffice to guide the faithful. Thank you for your insight all these years.

David Castro
via voice mail

Hater And His Horse

Duncan Shepherd is always helpful. Any movie he despises is always good, something worth viewing. He and the high horse he rides on must be very proud of their self-righteous arrogance. Has this fool ever had a career in film besides his desk-job criticisms? Here’s to you, Dunkie, enjoy your life as a perpetual hater.

James Cooney
via email

What Would Duncan Do?

Duncan Shepherd gave San Diegans 38 years of intelligent movie reviews. Being intelligent is compatible with being irritating, unperspicuous, dogmatic, and pedantic, and Duncan Shepherd’s reviews at times were all of these, sometimes, amazingly, in the same review. Nonetheless, when I came home from watching a movie, I wanted to see what Shepherd thought of it, and if the Reader had fetched a price, I would gladly have paid it to see his review. His weekly writing had the unpredictability of intelligence. There were patterns, but every review contained some surprising, quirky observation and, more often than not, one that went to the heart of the matter (or at least, was headed that way). I’m grateful to him for sustaining a wondrous, long open-ended conversation with his readers, and I’m immensely sad that his service is at an end. How about starting a movie blog, Mr. Shepherd?

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