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Finding the inner fire

Her weird, wonderful life celebrated

It’s February 12, and a biologist, an anthropologist and a sociologist walk into a bar. The biologist buys a drink, raises his glass and proposes a toast. ”To Charles Darwin on his day!” The anthropologist responds with “to Extraterrestrial Cultures, on their day!” The sociologist forgoes toasting. He just drinks his beer while muttering “every devotee has his day.” And it's true. Since 1995, fans of the 19th-century evolutionary theorist have officially marked the date of his birth as their day to honour science, reason and critical thinking. In the U.K., biologist Richard Dawkins is scheduled to speak today on “The Hubris of Faith,” part of the annual Darwin Day Lecture series. On the same day, first contact enthusiasts will “celebrate all past, present and future alien visitors in ways to enhance relationships among all citizens of the cosmos, known and unknown.” First observed in New Mexico in 2004 — can you say Roswell? — ET Cultch Day now has a worldwide following. Today, in an effort to connect the two groups, Reeling Back is adding two movie reviews to the archive (with links to each following the Afterword to this posting). In keeping with the optimism of our biologist friend’s toast, the popular culture offers the occasional film that honours those who have expanded our understanding of the natural world. Such was the intent of director Michael Apted with his 1988 biographical feature Gorillas in the Mist: The Adventure of Dian Fossey.


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When dreams go wrong

Providing a mind-blowing experience

A frequent player in the D.C. Universe in recent years, Michael Ironside is memorable in both good guy and bad guy roles. Born on this day (February 12) in 1950, he was the poster boy for explosive aggression in director David Cronenberg’s 1981 sci-fi shocker Scanners.

comics page

Frontier disappointment

Less than the sum of its comic parts

Originally a dramatic actor, George Segal apparently decided sometime in the mid-1970s that he’d rather be a funnyman. Born on this day (February 13) in 1934, Segal was in full comic mode in writer-director Melvin Frank's U.S. bicentennial frontier farce The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox (1976).


He loved not wisely

Distraction fatal to reformer’s cause

For approximately 1.4 billion people around the world, today (February 5) is the Chinese New Year. To mark the occasion, and to celebrate the beginning of the Year of the Pig, Reeling Back recalls director Li Han-hsiang's 1976 Hong Kong epic, The Last Tempest


Plans set, goals met

My Blog; Your Guide to What's New

On October 4, 2013, the day that Reeling Back went live on the Internet, I thought I knew where all this was going. Five years, four months and 12 days later, I’m older, perhaps wiser and certainly more aware of the “innumerable confusion” of our times that Marshall McLuhan first noted in 1964.



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.