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Classic gets comics touch

Corman film school's master class

We can't help but be interested in Guardians of the Galaxy, because its writer-director, James Gunn, made his first feature film, Slither (2006), right here in Vancouver. A TV trailer for the new release, opening today (August 1), includes the line "the best Marvel movie yet." That particular pull-quote is attributed to Alisha Grauso, the bespectacled editor-in-chief of (Though not a verbatim quote, it does paraphrase the overall tone of Ms Grauso's July 24 review on the website created to "help studios trigger, fuel and amplify positive conversations about their movies.") Gunn drew his inspiration from the comic-book publisher's 2006 update of an original 1969 superhero team. Based on the source material (and a viewing of the available trailers), Reeling Back fears that the result will be another $170-million cheesefest. Which is not to say that the cinematic dairy case does not contain a host of guilty pleasures. In 1980, an era when low-budget, entertainingly cheesy movies were based on classic films rather than comics, legendary pinch-penny producer Roger Corman parted with an estimated $2 million to parody Star Wars with a deep-space remake of The Seven Samurai. He called his picture Battle Beyond the Stars.

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local news

Historic moment lost

Redneck redcoat's tale turns tragic

The only First Nations actor to win an Academy Award (for 1970's Little Big Man), Vancouver's Chief Dan George was born on this day (July 24) in 1899. Among his 14 feature film roles was that of Sounding Sky, the grieving father of Almighty Voice, in 1974's Alien Thunder.

comics page

Fairy magic & fruit batty

Aussie-inspired eco-toon a treat

The comic talents of Robin Williams, born on this day (July 21) in 1951, often seem inspired by classic Warner Brothers cartoon characters. No surprise, then, that he's a runaway hit in his first animated feature role, Batty Koda in 1992's Ferngully: The Last Rainforest .


A spy for all seasons

When there were but three

In 1980, when there were only a dozen James Bond features to choose among, it was easy to know everything there was to know about the screen's most popular superspy. Reeling Back invites you to test your recollection of those simpler times with this film quiz.


Mission accomplished

My Blog; Your Guide to What's New

This morning (July 29), I received the most wonderfully satisfying email. Following the launch of any long-term project such as Reeling Back, there are moments of uncertainty. Is the work involved worth the bother? In five words, my correspondent swept away all my doubts.



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.