Duncan Shepherd

Duncan Shepherd was the Reader's sole movie critic for nearly 40 years. Shepherd was a disciple of Manny Farber, a man Roger Ebert once called "the great iconoclast of American film criticism." Like Farber, Shepherd sought to assist moviegoers "in seeing what was in front of their faces, to wean them from Plot, Story, What Happens Next, and to disabuse them of the absurd notion that a film is all of a piece, all on a level, quantifiable, rankable, fileable." Instead of simply describing a film's attributes, he took hold of it like Jacob wrestling the angel, and sought to see it face to face. He retired in 2010.

Read about Shepherd on Wikipedia.

Some of Shepherd's notable work:

Thick Skin, Dec. 4, 1975 (Shepherd's view on pornography)

Naysaying, June 10, 1976 (response to Shepherd critics)

Gorin by Himself, Oct. 18, 1979 (collaborator of Jean-Luc Godard, friend of Shepherd's)

Cease Fire, April 30, 1981 (another frontal stand against Shepherd's critics)

Upside, Downside, July 7, 1994 (the new phenomenon of films on video)

More Than Money, March 7, 1996 (review of Fargo)

One Cent's Worth, Sept. 27, 2001 (reflections on 9/11)

Bloop, Nov. 1, 2001 (review of The Man Who Wasn't There — first Coen Bros. film to disappoint him)

Articles by Duncan Shepherd

What was thought hot 45 years ago

Reader guide to San Diego 1973

1973 San Diego guide to San Diego guidebooks What Neil Morgan never told you. 1973 San Diego guide to the San Diego Reader Who are these people? 1973 San Diego guide to cheesecake Supermarket, specialty ...

So Long

It had to end sometime. Now’s as bad a time as any. After thirty-eight years of them — commencing with a typo-marred encomium on Hickey and Boggs dated November 2, 1972 — this is to ...

Life in Him Yet

Granted, Clint Eastwood in his senior years has demonstrated a remarkable readiness to broaden his boundaries as a director. A quick check of his filmography will show that as long ago as his middle-aged Breezy, ...

Different Strokes

Trepidation is not the ideal frame of mind in which to approach a film, even around Halloween. But after I Stand Alone and Irreversible, the French enfant terrible Gaspar Noé merits nothing less and nothing ...

Tight Spot

Sort of a Sorry, Wrong Number for the cellphone age, Buried is a gimmicky thriller whose single gimmick, if you have not been tipped off beforehand, dawns on you with a mounting sensation of hopelessness ...

October Kickoff

Everything you never wanted to know about the advent of Facebook, where “friends” gather on the Internet, will be revealed in The Social Network. That’s not to say you will understand it. Structured as an ...

The Other Bostonians

Ben Affleck’s second directed film, The Town, is a moderately diverting, mildly despicable game of cops-and-robbers that counts, in its play for the spectator’s sympathies, on the moral depravity of the public at large, a ...

The Boss’s Daughter

For your Mafia fix, you can safely go to The Sicilian Girl, a fictionalized factual story from the fatherland, focussed on (at the start) the ten-year-old daughter of a soon murdered mob boss, slowly simmering ...


Top of the heap this week, The Tillman Story rehashes the shameful facts of how Pat Tillman, Jr., the Arizona Cardinal who set aside a professional football career to enlist in the Army post-9/11, had ...

Let’s Be Friends

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