Derzu

Comments by Derzu

An End

Dear Duncan, I mourn the loss of your old friend. I lived in La Jolla from 1965 to 1994 and still visit often; was at UCSD 1977-1982; studied film there; took Manny's classes (and Lauder's and Gorin's); sat in on your Summer classes; frequented the Unicorn, Cove, Cinema 21, Cinerama, Roxy, Casino, Spreckels, Guild, Park, and all our other sadly departed venues; diligently read most if not all of your reviews from the mid-1970s onward; and entered into countless arguments with my wife, friends, and family over your unique, erudite, hilarious, great reviews. After taking both Manny's classes, I used to steel myself and corner him during chance meetings in the Credit Union or Ralph's to ask him about various movies. "I'm a painter, not a film critic," he demurred through a grimace in Ralph's, as he carefully considered the price of some Playtex rubber gloves. I snuck off into frozen foods, tail between my legs. "All those trees were just like a big green pile of lettuce," he offered darkly without looking up from his deposit slip, when asked about Dersu Uzala (no relation), which I had recently seen, and loved, on two successive nights at the Unicorn. Nice talking to ya. He was a truly fascinating and ornery character, and one who I am proud to have studied under, albeit only during those two undergraduate films classes ("Male Action Movies" was one) some 30 years ago. He taught a great class. And he must have been fairly proud of you, Duncan, if you care about my opinion. I am proud of you, and we've never even met. I've never before written to the Reader or emailed your website in all these years, though at times you might have welcomed a volley or two of support in the "letters" section, but choose this moment to break my self-imposed vow of silence: In my humble opinion, you are the best writer on movies in the history of the English language. The funniest, the best versed, the most entertaining, and technically most proficient writer. And, I have to think by now (and would love for you to confirm or refute), the MOST published one as well. Other critics may have written for more years, I wouldn't know. But how many have published reviews of as many movies or had as many inches published in print? I wonder. Quality AND Quantity. Anyway, he must have been proud to count you among his friends. Someday, I'm going to get my courage up and introduce myself to you at a movie. Just don't bite my head off like your mentor did. Kurosawa may have been a lot of things, but, dangit, he was not just a big green pile of lettuce! I don't actually expect this little bit of frivolity to cheer you up at all, it's just one anonymous critic's two cents' worth. But you must have done your mentor proud. You are the greatest, and not only that, you are the greatest that ever was. Not even Manny can claim that. Don't ever quit. You've a streak to consider. (And books to write?) With going on four decades' worth of devotion,
— August 27, 2008 3:23 p.m.

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