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Visiting aviation’s zoo

Simple-minded nonsense from our sponsor

Why am I not excited? After years of production delays and rescheduled release dates, Top Gun: Maverick premieres today (May 27). Arriving in theatres within days of the original feature’s 36th anniversary (May 16), it has been the subject of intense advance publicity, with Internet mavens weighing in on everything from its place in the career of Tom Cruise to the sophistication of the IMAX cinematography. Not having seen the picture, I can’t disagree with the apparently positive critical consensus, or predictions that it will be the box-office hit of 2022. I’m not excited because I’m not a fan of the mindless militarism that such films endorse. As early as 2019, we were alerted to the fact that the U.S. Department of Defense was a major participant in the production. In exchange for access to U.S.N. equipment and facilities, the Pentagon got script approval and control over the film’s final cut. The new movie arrives as Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine goes into its fourth month, an invasion that is having unintended global consequences. To date, the response from the self-appointed “leader of the free world” has been unhelpful nostalgia for the Cold War confrontations of yore. American popular culture, after years of infatuation with superhero fantasies, is enthusiastically recycling Ronald Reagan’s simple faith in patriotic obedience. A landmark expression of that faith was director Tony Scott’s tale of dogfighting jet pilots, the 1986 boxoffice blockbuster Top Gun.


local news

Plot lost in the woods

Survival shocker stuck in first gear

Calgary’s David Winning has enjoyed success satisfying the movie and television audience’s appetite for tales of both dark horror and sunny romance. Born on this day (May 8) in 1961, he made his feature film directorial debut with the 1987 wilderness thriller Storm.

comics page

Out of the inkwell

Looking at movies inspired by comics

Marking its 20th anniversary today (May 7), Free Comic Book Day is often linked to the release of the latest Marvel Comics superhero movie. Back in 1994, I wrote a feature article listing some 18 live-action feature films based on the comic strips, comic books and cartoons of the day.


Human spirit triumphant

A world in which distortion is reality

A TV documentarist, Harry Rasky is most often remembered for his highly individual examinations of modern artists and their art. Born on this day (May 9) in 1928, he struck out in a new direction, looking at people famous for their physical abnormalities in the 1981 theatrical feature Being Different


A sad talent for violence

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On this day (May 15) in 1718, London lawyer James Puckle patented a weapon now recognized as the first machine gun. His silly name is the closest I can come to a joke on this mid-month day, one made somber by the echo of gunfire on a Middle Eastern street and at a U.S. shopping mall.



A DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES 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.