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On the eve of a new year

The Big Chill with English accents

Tonight (December 31), New Year’s Eve celebrants bidding goodbye to 2017 will note that it’s not been a great year for presidents. Plagued with undisclosed health issues, Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari spent much of his year on medical leave, including nearly five months in London. Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro faced a year of domestic unrest fueled, it’s said, by a U.S.-sponsored campaign for regime change. Following her impeachment, South Korea’s first woman president Park Geun-hye left office in March. A military coup in November brought an end to Robert Mugabe’s 30 years as president of Zimbabwe. Earlier this month, a sniper’s bullet ended the life of Yemen’s first president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, as he attempted to shift his allegiance in his country’s civil war. After years dodging corruption charges, South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma was ousted as the leader of his party, and will likely be impeached in early 2018. In the U.S. where POTUS is a pop culture celebrity, a stricken President Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) fell to his knees in the December 13 mid-season climax of ABC-TV’s Designated Survivor, while the November 4 firing of actor Kevin Spacey from the Netflix series House of Cards means the end of his character, President Frank Underwood. And, for movie fans, at least three presidents can be glimpsed in director Ken Branagh’s 1992 New Year’s eve comedy, Peter’s Friends.


local news

On the road with granny

Seeking justice, or maybe just survival

For Viveca Lindfors, the results of a working visit to Vancouver included one broken wrist and a Genie Award nomination. Born on this day (December 29) in 1920, the veteran performer was near the end of her 55-year career when she starred in director Richard Martin’s 1992 North of Pittsburgh.

comics page

Spider slandering shocks

Web-spinners really nature’s heroes

Today (January 7) is Christmas on the Orthodox Church calendar. In Ukraine, children will hear the story of pavuchky, the Christmas spider. A sweet tale, it accords the web-weaving creature a respect missing from director Frank Marshall’s failed shock-comedy, 1990’s Arachnophobia


Singing songs of protest

Together again for a reunion concert

On this day (January 2) in 1962, NBC-TV banned a popular folk-singing quartet from The Tonight Show when the musicians refused to sign a political loyalty oath. Blacklists are remembered in James B. Brown’s 1982 documentary The Weavers: Wasn’t That a Time!.


From stage to screen

My Blog; Your Guide to What's New

Happy Place, Pamela Mala Sinha’s look into the lives of seven women who have attempted suicide, has its Vancouver premiere tonight (October 20). Last week during a “meet & greet,” the Winnipeg-born actress-playwright talked about her play’s upcoming motion picture adaptation.



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.