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Duncan Shepherd and the Reader

Came from UCSD, stayed almost 40 years

Desk work

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 and artist Manny Farber. Shepherd retired from the Reader in 2010.

Read about Shepherd on Wikipedia.

Some of Shepherd's notable stories:

  • Thick Skin

  • Pornographic movies, these days, tend to underrate how much the erotic effect depends on a mental state — a subjective point of view. Instead, they are content to offer just the physical aspect and that, generally, from a fixed, gynecologist's vantage point. (Dec. 4, 1975)

Broadway Playhouse, downtown San Diego. Hardcore porn records a motion as monotonous, methodical mechanical, but scarcely as beautiful, as a piston’s.

Broadway Playhouse, downtown San Diego. Hardcore porn records a motion as monotonous, methodical mechanical, but scarcely as beautiful, as a piston’s.

  • Naysaying

  • The recent swell of Letters to the Editor (printable and, mostly, unprintable) on the subject of my sourness, or sore-headedness, or however it’s diagnosed, has reached a point where it seems advisable for me to step forward and say something conciliatory before the grumblers out there band together and show up on the doorstep. (June 10, 1976)
  • Gorin by Himself

  • Jean-Pierre Gorin worked with New Wave filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard during the early 1970s. Gorin came to UCSD as film professor in the mid-1970s. The film Poto and Cabengo was a result of efforts described in this interview.
  • Duncan Shepherd: Why not begin at the beginning, and tell how you got this project off the ground.
  • Jean-Pierre Gorin:It was rather simple really. After the episode on Apocalypse Now, I came back to Berkeley, rather depressed and not knowing what I was going to do, and there was this producer from German television who came through town. (Oct. 18, 1979)

The Kennedy twins. "They were two little girls who have absolutely no idea why they're so interesting to the world."

The Kennedy twins. "They were two little girls who have absolutely no idea why they're so interesting to the world."

  • Cease Fire

  • Some weeks ago, with no new movie in town worth writing about, and pretty much stumped for a way to wheedle another paycheck out of my publisher, I decided it might not be too troublesome to rustle up a few remarks about my long-brewing dissatisfaction with my mail at this paper. So I went ahead and rustled. And came the deluge! (April 30, 1981)
  • Upside, Downside

  • For the time being, let’s just note that what you get with a video rental is substantially smaller than what you get with a movie ticket, though it would not be quite fair to attach a strictly proportional value based exclusively on size. Say, conservatively, 250 to 1, so that if a movie ticket goes for seven dollars, a video rental ought to figure out to three cents. (July 7, 1994)
  • More Than Money

  • Fargo, outside of the opening scene in the titular North Dakota city, takes place in Minnesota. Joel and Ethan Coen were born and raised in Minnesota. I, too, was born and raised there. So the Minnesota connection may need to be taken into account should I say something rash and lavish and un-Minnesotan. (March 7, 1996)

The Man Who Wasn't There

The Man Who Wasn't There

  • One Cent's Worth

  • The oft-heard remark that the attack on the World Trade Center was “like a movie” is true enough, I guess, as far as it goes. It goes little farther, however, than a few seconds of “action news" footage, after which you begin to count the ways in which it is not like a movie: no Bruce Willis to take charge of the situation, no British-accented archfiend, no two-hour resolution, no emotional insulation, etc. (Sept. 27, 2001)
  • Bloop

  • The Man Who Wasn't There is the first Coen brothers movie to disappoint me. That’s not to say that it’s not good, certainly not to say that it’s not even as good as their first, Blood Simple, when I had no expectations of them at all and so could not be disappointed. Nor is it to say that someone without my elevated expectations might not be able to enjoy it without qualm or quibble. Or in other words enjoy it — another first — more than I. (Nov. 1, 2001)

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Comments

Great memory! My only regret is that I didn't take Gorin's film class. All my friends would tell me about the goings on in the class. (That's when we talked to each other rather than post)

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