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David Elliott

Elliott was the Reader's principal film critic from November, 2010, through June of 2012.

Born in Lexington, Ky., and raised in Houston, Tx., the young movie fan began ushering in Chicago theaters in the 1960s. He considers managers Bruce Trinz of the fabled Clark Theater and Samuel Levin of the State-Lake Theater "my true mentors even more than some very fine editors, and such exciting critics as Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris." Elliott began writing reviews at Lawrence University in Wisconsin, and not long after graduation was hired by the Chicago Daily News as an arts writer and budding movie critic. He was the Daily News's last film critic, and after the paper folded in 1978 he backed up Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times, also covering art, theater and photography.

He worked briefly at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, was USA Today's first movie critic for two years, and spent almost 24 years as film critic of the San Diego Union-Tribune. He covered films for the lively site SDNN.com during its short run.

Often nominated for the Pulitzer in criticism, Elliott is presently writing a book about great film performances. He lives in San Diego with his wife, the critic and editor Valerie Scher. Their daughter is in art school in New York City, and their son is currently exploring the green world of organic farming.

Of reviewing, Elliott says that "you follow a critic for the style of personal voice. Agreement is seldom very crucial. The critic's job is to stimulate the conversation that keeps culture alive, not feed the furnace of hit fever. I most prize critics who are neither snobs or slobs, who write neither for a coterie of insiders nor for the addicts of buzz. I write for the pleasure of writing, and because movies open so many windows of experience. I welcome responses that make a point."

Articles by David Elliott

David Elliott's Final Column

This is my farewell column, but not a whine about leaving the Reader. The problems of movie critics don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. And it would be bad form ...

June 13, 2012
Prometheus: A Lurching Carnival of Budget Blasts

Years in development, Ridley Scott’s Aliens prequel Prometheus flaunts many roots, from epic themes sucked out of 2001: A Space Odyssey to the inevitable, awful ick-with-teeth (Aliens and its progeny). There is a dull nod ...

June 6, 2012
Snow White and the Huntsman: Less for Fairy Tale Fans Than Action Buffs

As Queen Ravenna, the vicious usurper in Snow White and the Huntsman, Charlize Theron looks so fabulous that her Oscar-winner, Aileen Wuornos in Monster, seems almost another species. An empress of narcissism, Ravenna insists on ...

June 6, 2012
This Is the One with the Most Supple Flow: Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom opens with Benjamin Britten’s “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.” The tactic, like the music, is inspired. The kids of the Bishop family listen to the vinyl LP, and their imaginations ...

June 6, 2012
The Intouchables, A Less Sentimental Driving Miss Daisy

Through his career, François Cluzet has been chased by a resemblance to Dustin Hoffman. In a restrained French way, he might be as talented. I would rather view again his quadriplegic Philippe in The Intouchables ...

June 6, 2012
Battleship Is Bullship

Let’s be honest: Battleship is Bullship. That honor is soon justified, when Lieutenant Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) steals a burrito to impress the va-voom daughter (Brooklyn Decker) of an admiral (Liam Neeson). A boozing screw-up ...

May 23, 2012
Bernie: Jack Black Is the Most Likeable Man in Carthage, Texas

Jack Black, a likeable actor, simply had to play the most likeable man in Carthage, Texas. He is Bernhardt Tiede II, currently in prison yet still loved in Carthage for having been a funeral director ...

May 23, 2012
Men in Black III Takes a Final Run at the Bank

In what must be a final run at the bank, Men in Black III arrives a decade after the last installment. The first two MiB shows grossed over a billion worldwide, providing rich justification for ...

May 23, 2012
The Moth Diaries: Moonstruck Walks, Erotic Rivalry, Repressive Authority, Nocturnal Blood

Early reviews have argued that director Mary Harron has fallen below her previous level (American Psycho, The Notorious Bettie Page) with The Moth Diaries. They might better have emphasized the intelligent skill that Harron, who ...

May 23, 2012
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