Wednesday, November 10, 2010

So Long, Duncan Shepherd

San Diego Reader So Long

Duncan Shepherd is leaving his spot as The San Diego Reader's film critic after thirty years of imposing the hardest standard on new movies; I've read him continuously since the mid 70's , when I wrote occasional concert and record reviews for the reader, his prose , more than his knowledge, being the attraction. I was on a rather long journey to get something of the critic's tone and elegance--Shepherd and the late Steve Esmedina, another Reader critic, were my local stylistic models.Duncan's departure is a loss for film criticism ; there was something sublime about The Reader, one of the largest alternative weeklies in the country, having the single most "un-blurbable" film critic . His style and his nuanced, formalist agruments of movies, favorable or otherwise, were so that it was literally impossible to extract a single quote from them for a newspaper ad. That suited him fine, and it suited his readers.I left these words in the comment stream following his last column:

I am sorry to see you leave the pages of the Reader, web or otherwise. You've been one of very few to not be swayed to the chorus of fluctuating fashion. Although I have to say that I disagreed with your judgements more than half the time, I respected and looked forward to your knowledge, your wit and the elegance of your prose. It was a good bet that if I wanted to defend a film you found wanting, I would have to "up my game". You have my gratitude that you kept up the good fight as long as you had; I hope someday soon I might again be able to read you again, on  terms that suit you, about what you find engaging.

 Good luck , Duncan.