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Stories by Duncan Shepherd

Duncan Shepherd and the Reader

Duncan Shepherd was the Reader's sole movie critic for nearly 40 years. When he came to the Reader, Shepherd was a graduate student and teaching assistant in the Visual Arts department of UCSD, under critic ...

March 2, 2019
What was thought hot 45 years ago

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 ...

January 5, 2019
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 ...

November 10, 2010
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, ...

October 27, 2010
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 ...

October 20, 2010
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 6, 2010
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 ...

September 29, 2010
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 ...

September 22, 2010
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 ...

September 15, 2010
Relentless

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 ...

September 1, 2010
Summer Closeout

They don’t call them the dog days for nothing. Blockbusters are all behind us. Here’s what’s before ­us. The Switch. Thin-ice romantic comedy tolerable only insofar as you can tolerate the greased wheels of contrivance ...

August 25, 2010
Mideast Meets West

One of the promises of the independent cinema, seldom fulfilled, is that it take up the jobs abdicated by today’s Hollywood. The job taken up in Cairo Time is, no condescension intended, that of the ...

August 18, 2010
After an Intermission

Todd Solondz has described his Life during Wartime as a “quasi-sequel” to Happiness. This is helpful inasmuch as it has been a dozen years since the quasi-predecessor, and although I think of that one as ...

August 11, 2010
Just a Pinch

Lowering the temperature on the Cold War, below freezing, Salt exposes a subterranean population of Russian “sleeper” agents with far more nefarious designs than those of the eleven happy capitalists rounded up recently (and for ...

July 28, 2010
Misconception

Acclamations of genius plus megamillions at the box-office equal a license for self-indulgence. Case at hand: critical favorite Christopher Nolan plus popular favorite The Dark Knight equal Inception. To all those responsible, filmmaker and favorers ...

July 21, 2010
Moon in July

Pardon my priorities. Now that Alain Resnais has been addressed in timely fashion, I am able to double-back and attend to a matter of greater public concern. Tens if not dozens of readers will have ...

July 14, 2010
Old Dog, New Tricks

The first if not the most remarkable thing about Wild Grass is the simple fact that it will open locally, at the Ken on Friday. The last Alain Resnais film to do so, also at ...

July 7, 2010
No Summer Break

Latest outflow from the sluggish mainstream and the rushing ­tributaries: Winter’s Bone. Debra Granik’s top-prize recipient at this year’s Sundance festival, a poky, low-key, somewhat parsimonious rural thriller with a simple set-up: if absent Dad, ...

June 30, 2010
June Gloom

Pixar’s Toy Story 3, or if it makes any difference Lee Unkrich’s Toy Story 3, adds little but minutes to the previous sequel, and for a computer-animated children’s film it adds quite a lot of ...

June 23, 2010
The Liverish Liverpudlian

Faced with The A-Team and The Karate Kid, or going back to pick up the slighted Get Him to the Greek and Marmaduke, I did what any free-willed film fan would do: went to the ...

June 16, 2010
Back to the Future

In my years at this post, there have been no fewer than three re-releases of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. (A measure, some might suggest, of a too long length of time.) The latest one, at the ...

June 2, 2010
Behind the Times

Summer got started without me. Let’s see what I’ve ­missed. Iron Man 2, to take the first thing first, serves a sequel’s purpose; it gives the sheep somewhere to go and get clipped. No one ...

May 26, 2010
Women's Work

Back when Kathryn Bigelow was having, or about to have, her historic victory as Best Director on Oscar night, we were hearing some dire statistics about the percentage of female directors in the grand total. ...

May 5, 2010
Solid Geometry

Had I consented to watch my DVD screener of The Square, there would have been more than a couple of days left in its solo week at the Ken Cinema before I could say that ...

April 28, 2010
A Winner

The Academy Award for foreign film is historically a hard one to handicap. That’s because the voters in that category must meet the requirement of actually seeing the nominees, all five of them, in effect ...

April 21, 2010
Scads

We seem to have entered a brief period of frenzy between the pre-Oscar stasis and the slow summer pace of one blockbuster per week. I’m keeping up as best I can. Kick-Ass. Alias Smart-Ass, a ...

April 14, 2010
Forget the Titans

Something to live for (now that March Madness has passed): the new Alain Resnais film, Wild Grass, new as of the Cannes film festival last May, has popped up on the Landmark schedule for the ...

April 7, 2010
No Let-Up

Just to keep pace with the fast-breaking developments, a quick timeout from basketball: Chloe. A renaming and reworking by Atom Egoyan of the French film Nathalie by Anne Fontaine. Despite the pedigree (Egoyan, if you ...

March 24, 2010
Around and About

In between films at the San Diego Latino Film Festival, I can spare but passing glances at the world outside. And with the NCAA basketball tournament added this Thursday to the ongoing festival, we can’t ...

March 17, 2010
Little Wonder

Well, you wouldn’t expect Tim Burton to do a remake of Pollyanna, would you? Or Little Women or Anne of Green Gables or anything that might push back against the enveloping voguish “darkness,” anything that ...

March 10, 2010
Crime Time

In contention for the foreign-film Oscar, in contention to be exact for two more days after its debut on Friday at the Landmark Hillcrest, A Prophet is a sort of Prisoner’s Progress, a brutal and ...

March 3, 2010
Head to Head

Major filmmakers, minor films: Martin Scorsese, Roman Polanski, Shutter Island and The Ghost Writer respectively. “Disturbing” would be one word for the Scorsese, maybe the best word. Leonardo DiCaprio, the director’s torchbearer now in four ...

February 24, 2010
Bad Lot

Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Hector Elizondo, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Emma Roberts, Julia ...

February 17, 2010
Back in the Spotlight

It seems impossible to speak of Mel Gibson’s “comeback” in Edge of Darkness without speaking of what it is he is coming back from. But speaking strictly, the aftermath of his arrest for drunk driving ...

February 3, 2010
Gray Day

Revivals aside, we are lucky to get one black-and-white film a year. So we must count ourselves lucky, already in January, to get Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon, a common choice in cultural hubs as ...

January 27, 2010
Good Buy

First let me confess. I do not know what I’m talking about. Anything naive, ill-informed, mistaken in what follows will be admitted freely without need of threat or torture. I am confident I speak for ...

January 13, 2010
To Begin With

Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart is pretty much the whole show. His Bad Blake, given name to be held back for the gravestone, is an over-the-hill and down-on-his-luck C&W singer still living the life of ...

January 6, 2010
In Sum

One thing seems clear. The surprise announcement in June of the expansion of the Oscars’ Best Picture category to ten nominees, a virtual Ten Best list exclusive of foreign films (not just second-class citizens but ...

December 30, 2009
Look What Santa Brought

The last of the last. A Single Man. The Christmas movie for holiday depressives (who after all deserve one, too), an adaptation of the Christopher Isherwood novel detailing the planned last day of a homosexual ...

December 23, 2009
New World Disorder

The reviewer of Avatar seems honor-bound to declare which Avatar he is reviewing. Me? 2-D, no. 3-D, yes. IMAX, no. I’m in no position to gauge the differences. Viewers who opt for 2-D, and for ...

December 16, 2009
Campaign Trail

Here they come, “for your consideration,” clear through Christmas, elbowing each other to the finish line. So consider in haste. Invictus takes its title from the Henley poem of the same name: “my unconquerable soul... ...

December 9, 2009
Blessings Few

On the Thanksgiving menu: Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, which I was horrified to see is the verbatim title on screen and not just promotional overkill, would qualify as the year’s worst ...

November 24, 2009
The Days Dwindle Down

Through Independence Day and Godzilla, pre-9/11, and The Day after Tomorrow post-9/11, transplanted German filmmaker Roland Emmerich has inched closer to the edge of the abyss for a view of the apocalypse. In 2012, which ...

November 18, 2009
Other Dimensions

Beg pardon, but it has taken me a week to untie my tongue on the subject of Antichrist, which closes out its seven days at the Ken on Thursday. A piece of art-house schlock from ...

November 11, 2009
Matters of Fact

Are you having enough chances to see documentaries? I myself in the past couple of weeks missed my chances at Fuel and The Way We Get By, the latest environmental and Iraq War documentaries respectively. ...

October 28, 2009
All Together Now

If I had to read it cover to cover before reviewing it, there’s no telling when I would have leave to speak of Farber on Film: The Complete Film Writings of Manny Farber. Issued on ...

October 21, 2009
Something Done

The standard line on A Serious Man, and I see no reason to deviate from it, is that this is the Coen brothers’ most “personal” work to date. To be sure, the brothers have never ...

October 14, 2009
Rush to Judgment

You simply wish to nip over to France for a couple, three weeks, prior to the full-on rush of prize-hunters in the year’s final quarter, and you find on your return that new movies by ...

October 7, 2009
Huff-Puff

The pace holds steady…. The September Issue. R.J. Cutler’s documentary version of The Devil Wears Prada, a revealing inside look at the putting-together of the year’s fattest issue of Vogue, what turns out to be ...

September 9, 2009
Taking Stock

Collision of the end of summer and the start of fall: massive pileup. Quite separate from the seven new movies that opened in our town last Friday alone, eight more are slated to open this ...

September 2, 2009

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