SF Examiner film critic Rossiter Drake dies at 34 

Rossiter Drake, 34, grew up in Norwalk, Conn., before moving to the Bay Area. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Rossiter Drake, 34, grew up in Norwalk, Conn., before moving to the Bay Area.

Rossiter Drake, a movie and sports lover who wrote about film for The San Francisco Examiner and other Bay Area publications, has died of an apparent heart attack. He was 34.

Drake — whose email addresses were “sanfranmovies” and “savefenway” — was found at his Alameda apartment Sunday morning.

A huge fan of New England sports teams, Drake, known to friends as Ross, grew up in Norwalk, Conn. He came to the Bay Area after graduating from Oberlin College, where he studied English and film and was editor of the Oberlin Review.

Readers enjoyed his smart, succinct commentary and ability to write fairly about Hollywood blockbusters as well as films by auteurs.

He made no apologies for selecting Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” — “a rousing achievement, a bold, strikingly cinematic spectacle” — as his favorite movie of 2011, but he also reveled in films by Woody Allen, Pedro Almodóvar, Clint Eastwood, Alexander Payne and Martin Scorsese.

His admiration for great directors and special interest in horror movies merged when he interviewed David Cronenberg about “A Dangerous Method.” He compared the filmmaker to his movie subject, Sigmund Freud, calling them “kindred spirits” who “rose to prominence by challenging convention and confronting subjects most peers considered taboo.”

His wit was apparent in reviews of schlocky action movies, such as his take on “Transformers: Dark  of the Moon” in which he called the title characters “scrap metal crashing together in a bewildering maelstrom” and described the film franchise’s success as “a raised middle finger at our collective intelligence.”

Drake is survived by his parents, Rossiter J. Drake and Enes (Bucciarelli) Drake, and sister, Shana L. Drake.

Contributions in his name may be directed to the Oberlin Review at Oberlin College in Ohio, or to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. Memorial services will be held in Connecticut.


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Leslie Katz

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