David Chute, Longtime Film Critic, Dies at 71

Former critic for the L.A. Herald Examiner championed genre films

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Chow Yun-Fat with David Chute (Photo by Anne Thompson)

David Chute, a veteran film critic and writer best remembered for his work at Film Comment magazine and the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, died on Nov. 8 after a battle with esophageal cancer, his daughter, Nora Chute, said. He was 71.

A native of Maine, Chute (pictured above, right, with Chow Yun-fat) got his start as a film critic at the Kennebec Journal and The Maine Times before joining the Boston Phoenix in 1978, where he championed horror directors like George Romero and John Carpenter.

He soon began working for Film Comment magazine, contributing early profiles of indie auteurs like John Sayles and John Waters in the early 1980s. There he also met his future wife, film journalist Anne Thompson, who was an associate editor at the time.

In 1982, Chute joined Peter Rainer as a film critic at the The Los Angeles Herald Examiner, where he earned a Pulitzer nomination for a 10-part “Behind the Screen” series on the below-the-line crafts in moviemaking.

Chute was a champion of genre films and foreign cinema, including the Hong Kong filmmakers of the late 20th century like John Woo. He served as unit publicist on Woo’s first Hollywood film, 1993’s “Hard Target,” as well as 1996’s “Broken Arrow” and Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 film “Jackie Brown.”

Tarantino and Chute teamed to record commentary tracks for a set of classic martial arts re-releases from Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers Studios, and Chute contributed to several Criterion Collection releases for Hong Kong films.

From 2004-2013, Chute served as the senior writer at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, while continuing to supply film reviews to the LA Weekly, Variety and IndieWire. In recent years, he had been preparing the first definitive historical overview of Wuxia martial arts cinema.

Chute is survived by his sister, Dian Chute, his daughter, Nora Chute and his wife, Anne Thompson.