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Proud, ambitious & angry

Being her own person, no matter what

It was on January 26, 1818, that the governor of New South Wales proclaimed Foundation Day, a celebration to mark the 30th anniversary of British settlement. Founded as a penal colony — England needed someplace to dump its human detritus after the loss of the 13 American colonies in 1783 — the modern nation still keeps Australia Day as its national holiday. Not everyone agrees that the arrival of 11 ships transporting some 700 convicts should be a cause for patriotic revelry. Since at least 1938, Aboriginal groups have marked January 26 as Invasion Day, making their feelings known by marching to protest the official festivities. In his address on Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called on the nation to acknowledge its stories “of drought, bushfires [and] adapting to the many changes that come with living in this great continent.” While Morrison, a notorious climate change denier, is a political prat, he does remind us that stories are important. Among those worth recalling today are the incendiary tales of change in the lives of the continent’s women, including that of feminist icon and author of The Female Eunuch, Germaine Greer, born on this day (January 29) in 1939. She was part of an activist generation that included filmmakers such as Bruce Beresford and Gillian Armstrong. The former contributed three remarkable female coming-of-age dramas, a trilogy that that concluded with 1986’s The Fringe Dwellers.


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Waking from the dream

Survival and adjustment on the bridge

Released without a director’s credit, The First Season told the story of a strong woman who takes charge of her life in the wake of tragedy. The industry controversy overshadowed the achievement of Kate Trotter, born on this day (February 5) in 1953, in her first feature film starring role.

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Sugar coating hard times

Reality sacrificed for a happy ending

Gene Hackman, who was born on this day (January 30) in 1930, was part of an ill-fated ménage brought together by director Stanley Donen for a tale of Prohibition-era comedic mayhem. He co-starred with Liza Minnelli and Burt Reynolds in Donen’s 1975 feature farce Lucky Lady.


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Saying something he can be proud of

In 1989, Gene Hackman sat down with me in Seattle to discuss his latest movie, director Andrew Davis’s political thriller The Package. Born on this day (January 30) in 1930, he noted that his work as an actor remains separate from his personal ideas.


Resolute going forward

My Blog; Your Guide to What's New

Not just a new year, but a new decade begins today (January 1, 2020). The very thought of it — the challenges, the opportunities, the responsibility — is enough to induce creative paralysis. Or, perhaps, to invoke the title of Nikolay Chernyshevsky’s 1863 novel What Is to Be Done?.



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.