Mind That Metaphor
My long love affair with the Reader began when she first appeared in 1972 (a very groovy year indeed!).
Her occasional loss of various limbs and features over the decades may have tested my troth, yet I remained insipidly resolute. She would always be my bitch.
Duncan Shepherd was forever her heart. Now with that heart’s exit, my passion atrophies. All future intercourse will be, for my part, that of a sad and shamed necrophiliac.
aka Jose Sinatra/Georges Alvina
The Dots I Lived By
Add my lamentations to the sorrowing chorus mourning Duncan Shepherd’s announced departure (“So Long,” November 11). Increasingly, relentlessly we’ve all had a lot to swallow and a lot to stand up to in the broader world, but this particular unwelcome change, here at home, cuts deep.
I hadn’t given thought to having to continue my moviegoing life without the ongoing benefit of Mr. Shepherd’s praiseworthy service to us all. For longer than I care to think about, we movie enthusiasts have had to pick our way gingerly midst the onslaught of contemporary repellencies (e.g., Dane Cook: My Best Friend’s Girl). Black dots from a trusted source are warranted, useful, invaluable.
No matter how busy and burdened the day — if a movie was in the offing — I knew from forlorn experience to ascertain Mr. Shepherd had not pinned a black dot to his review. I came never to doubt them and hadn’t realized fully, until now, how grateful to him I was for their placement. He saved me time, misery, money. I thank him belatedly.
Alas. To whom shall we now turn? How to know which new offering is an open sewer to avoid? Which same old hash pile to sidestep? Or which is a wonderment to rush to? How to do without his resolute discernment and warnings and endorsements? How to do without his singular learned, artistically astute acumen and insight? There is, quite simply, no other like him in quality of conviction and integrity and breadth of knowledge. It’s a great loss, and he will be missed.
Lynne Moran Yarrington
A Brighter Light
No, Duncan, not enough said. Not from this side of the computer screen, or paper, or wherever it is we the readers are. For 38 years, your column has been…brilliant. It has illuminated the art and artifice of moviemaking far beyond any other local writer and stands as the equal to anybody writing about movies, anywhere. It’s been a great pleasure. Thank you.
Duncan Shepherd’s gone and David Elliott’s arrived? There must be a God.
Name Withheld By Request
via voice mail
The Only Reason Now Gone
Duncan Shepherd was the only reason I read the Reader. Done!
I read Duncan Shepherd’s farewell with great sadness. I started reading his reviews when I moved here in 1977 and started keeping a scrapbook with the capsule reviews of my favorites as well as his four- and five-star reviews (not always identical).
Looking through them, I saw Annie Hall at the Guild, Ashes and Diamonds at the Strand, La Balance at the Cove, Broadway Danny Rose at the Cinerama, The Family at the Balboa, Careful, He Might Hear You at the Fine Arts, Days and Nights in the Forest at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, Eat My Dust at the Towne, Housekeeping at the Park, and Knife in the Water at the Unicorn. I mention these films specifically because the theaters that showed them no longer exist, except for the museum, which is dark these days.
I am enclosing my 1979 rebuttal to Mr. Shepherd’s review of Apocalypse Now, which is still a disagreement we have. One of my favorite memories was reading his review of Desert of the Tartars, which was shown here one time (on the day of the Reader’s publication) as part of the San Diego Film Festival, and being able to see it that evening.
It is my hope that Mr. Shepherd will not follow his mentor Manny Farber and completely terminate his outstanding film criticism. I would hope he would be allowed to write a review whenever he finds a worthwhile film, which is to say, perhaps, a few times a year. I would also buy a book of his film writing if he compiles one. Thanks for the film education, Mr. Shepherd!
Kim C. Cox
Grace Under Fire
Film critic Duncan Shepherd’s retirement after a remarkable 38-year tenure marks the end of an era for the paper and most certainly for San Diego filmgoers. The city is losing an important voice and a remarkable wordsmith that, I believe, have yet to be fully appreciated. I am thankful for the unusual integrity, precision, and insight I found in the columns; the occasional humor was a bonus. Thank you for the undeniable grace, courage, and fortitude. Thank you for a job very well done. His was a classy act and, as the saying goes, a tough one to follow.
Thirty-eight years is a long time. I started reading Duncan Shepherd’s movie reviews when I arrived in San Diego in 1984. I never stopped reading them. In the early days, I wondered why he worked as a movie reviewer because he didn’t seem to like any of the films he reviewed. Gradually, I came to realize that something else was going on — Duncan was one of the most literate, knowledgeable, and intelligent writers I had ever read.
His standards were high, and he didn’t care about trends. Story, writing, and characterization mattered far more than special effects and the wow factor. I came to agree with him far more than I disagreed. We shared a fondness for Clint Eastwood, not so much for the Coen Brothers. How he has survived the past several years with most movies targeted to ten-year-olds is beyond me. I would have bailed long ago.
We hear every day that print is dead and the future belongs to the web. I stand with Duncan in praise of the written word delivered on paper, preferably newsprint, which can be held in the hand and savored. Just like Duncan, we’ll miss it when it’s gone.