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Celebrating Yule’s end

Huston bows out with an elegant aside


“Looking at Joyce recently,” media theorist and James Joyce scholar Marshall McLuhan wrote in a 1987 letter. “A bit startled to note that the last page of Finnegans Wake is a rendering of the last part of the Mass. Remembered that the opening of Ulysses is from the first words of the Mass. The whole thing is an intellectual Black Mass.” A Canadian of Scots-Irish descent and a lover of language, McLuhan often celebrated the bardic tradition and the “gift of gab” conferred on the sons of Erin by the famous Blarney Stone. I expect that he also celebrated Bloomsday, the annual commemoration of Joyce and his works that’s held today (June 16) around the world. Observed since at least 1924, it takes place on the date Joyce chose to set the events of his novel Ulysses: June 16, 1904. It takes its name from the book’s central character, Leopold Bloom, the Dubliner whose memorable Thursday features a series of mundane encounters that mirror those of the mythological Greek hero. Considered a modernist literary landmark, it was also at the centre of the most famous obscenity trial in U.S. history. Given his influence on the arts, it’s surprising how few filmmakers have attempted to bring Joyce’s work to the screen. Today’s three additions to the Reeling Back archive (with links to each following the Afterword to this posting) include directorial legend John Huston’s 1987 farewell feature, his adaptation of Joyce’s short story The Dead.



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local news

It’s nothing original

Things that don’t make it anymore


There’ll be celebrations and some protests today (June 21) as Canada marks its National Indigenous People’s Day. In his final film appearance, First Nations actor Dan George participated in a less than successful social action comedy, director George Bloomfield’s 1980 feature Nothing Personal.

comics page

Expect to be amused

Finding fun in the rites of succession


On this day (June 24) in 1509, Henry Tudor was crowned King Henry VIII. In time, he would become corpulent. Already portly on the day he ascends England’s throne is Ralph Jones, an accidental successor played by John Goodman in director David Ward’s 1991 alternate history King Ralph.

entertainment

In pursuit of history

Swiftly paced intellectual adventure


On this day (June 22) in 1791, France’s King Louis XVI took flight from Paris and the revolutionaries who sought to end his reign. An historic moment, its significance is discussed by a coach-load of chatty notables who bring it to life in director Ettore Scola’s 1984 feature La Nuit de Varennes.

editorials

It’s Barcode Time!

My Blog; Your Guide to What's New


It happens twice a day, the minute when our digital clocks display 11:11. In a moment of silliness, I started calling it “barcode time!” Today (June 1), as we muse upon the unexpected lessons of the COVID-19 experience, the term seems an apt description for this, my 1,111th posting to Reeling Back.

Byline

REVIEWING CITIZEN WALSH

A DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES


Reelingback.com is the Internet address of Michael Walsh, a Canadian living in Vancouver, British Columbia.

I spent my working life as a newspaperman. While others covered the waterfront, I specialized in movies. As a film critic, I published my views in newspapers and magazines, on radio and television, at conferences, conventions and in the occasional courtroom. It was my good fortune to cover 30 of the most exciting, innovative years in screen history (1965-1995).
Retired, but not inactive, I've launched Reeling Back in in order to recall and, perhaps, make sense of it all. Eventually, it will grow into an archive of the nearly 6,000 films I've reviewed to date. Because everything old is news again, each posting will include a note connecting these particular movie memories to the here and now.

And, yes, I intend Reeling Back to offer new material, including web-log commentary, reviews of current pop culture and additions to my own "works in progress" — four book-length projects still in the notebook phase.

From Will Shakespeare to Marshall McLuhan to Joss Whedon, the great thinkers have all reminded us that we live in a world of wonders. In this small corner of cyberspace, I'd like to share some of the wonders that I have seen.

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