David Edelstein
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David Edelstein

David Edelstein (born 1959) is a freelance American film critic who has been the principal film critic for Slate and New York magazine, among others, and has appeared regularly on NPR's Fresh Air and CBS Sunday Morning programs. Over a long career, Edelstein has published more than 2000 film reviews.[1][2] In 2021, Colin McEnroe called Edelstein "America's greatest living film critic".[3]


Edelstein became a journalist after graduating from Harvard University in 1981.[4] He is often associated with close friend, fellow film critic, and iconoclast Pauline Kael.[5] He is also credited with coining the term "torture porn," a genre to describe such movies as Hostel and Saw.[6]

He has previously been a film critic for Slate (1996-2005), NPR's Fresh Air (2002-2018), New York (2006-2020),[7] the New York Post, The Village Voice, and The Boston Phoenix. His work has also appeared in The New York Times Arts & Leisure section, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, Variety, and Esquire, among others. He has been a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.[8][9] Edelstein appeared six times as a guest on the television program Charlie Rose to talk about the movies and the Oscar telecast.[10]

Dismissal from Fresh Air

On November 26, 2018, Edelstein came under controversy when he made a joke about a sex scene in Bertolucci's 1972 film Last Tango in Paris on his Facebook page. The joke was part of his post noting the passing of the film's director Bernardo Bertolucci. Edelstein post was widely criticized, and Edelstein promptly apologized and deleted the original post. He said he had been unaware of actress Maria Schneider's statement in 2007 that she wasn't told about the simulated sex scene until right before filming and that it caused her trauma. The following day, Fresh Air characterized the post as "offensive and unacceptable", and announced that Edelstein had been dismissed as a contributor. The statement reads, "The post does not meet the standards that we expect from Fresh Air contributors...We have decided to end Fresh Air's association with him, and have informed David accordingly."[11][12] The harshness of the media response to Edelstein's post and apology, and of his firing by Fresh Air, was criticized by several media outlets, including Salon, the editorial board of the New York Post, and The American Conservative.[13][14][15]


He is the co-author with independent film producer Christine Vachon of the book Shooting to Kill (1998).[16] He is also the author of two plays, Feed the Monkey (Loeb Experimental Theater, Harvard College, 1993) and Blaming Mom (Watermark Theater, New York City, 1994).[17]


  1. ^ Aradillas, Aaron (2005). "Reel time with David Edelstein". RockCritics.com.
  2. ^ "David Edelstein". Metacritic. Retrieved 2022.
  3. ^ McEnroe, Colin; Edelstein, David (December 17, 2021). "An hour with film critic David Edelstein". Connecticut Public Radio. No transcript available.
  4. ^ Walsh, Colleen (March 1, 2018). "Honored or not, these films won critic's heart". The Harvard Gazette.
  5. ^ Kael, Pauline; Davis, Francis (2002). Afterglow : a last conversation with Pauline Kael. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press. p. 104. ISBN 9780306811920. OCLC 50557407.
  6. ^ Hundt, Brad (October 26, 2007). "Shocking stuff". Observer-Reporter. Washington, Pennsylvania. Archived from the original on October 28, 2007. Retrieved 2014.
  7. ^ Friedman, Roger (April 24, 2020). "Media Melt Down Continues: New York Magazine Company "Furloughs" Chunk of Staff Including Film Critic David Edelstein". Showbiz411.
  8. ^ "David Edelstein - New York Film Critics Circle - NYFCC". November 11, 2021. Archived from the original on November 28, 2021.
  9. ^ "Members". National Society of Film Critics. December 29, 2017. Archived from the original on December 29, 2017.
  10. ^ "David Edelstein Appearances". Charlie Rose Conversations. Retrieved 2022.
  11. ^ Yang, Rachel (November 27, 2018). "NPR's 'Fresh Air' Fires Film Critic David Edelstein Over 'Last Tango in Paris' Rape Joke". Variety. Los Angeles, CA: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved 2018.
  12. ^ Vagianos, Alanna (November 27, 2018). "People Are Dragging This Film Critic For Making A Rape Joke After Filmmaker's Death". Huffington Post.
  13. ^ O'Hehir, Andrew (November 28, 2018). "David Edelstein, the "butter scene" in "Last Tango" and the darkness of the internet". Salon. Retrieved 2018.
  14. ^ Post Editorial Board (November 28, 2018). "It's time to stop firing people for bad jokes". The New York Post. New York. Retrieved 2018.
  15. ^ Dreher, Rod (November 30, 2018). "Defending David Edelstein". theamericanconservative.com. The American Ideas Institute. Retrieved 2018.
  16. ^ Vachon, Christine; Edelstein, David (1998). Shooting to Kill: how an independent producer blasts through the barriers to make movies that matter. Avon Books. ISBN 9780380798544. OCLC 39169872. See also "Shooting to Kill". www.goodreads.com. Retrieved 2017.
  17. ^ Brantley, Ben (October 22, 1994). "In Performance; Theater". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017.

Further reading

External links

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