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Setting her own agenda

A deadly challenge to the old boys club

If this Reeling Back posting had been made on July 18, it might have noted the 1610 death on that day of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, the Italian Baroque painter who gave us new ways of seeing art, or the 1817 passing of Jane Austen, the English novelist who was a pioneer of literary realism, especially in the depiction of women. In addition, it would have celebrated the birth in 1938 of Paul Verhoeven, the Dutch director who expanded our ways of experiencing cinema art and whose “career-long project,” (according to Slant online magazine critic Jaime N. Christley) has been “to demonstrate that every woman has a touch of Lysistrata.” Today, it’s November 9, so instead we’ll recall the opening of the 2016 Total Verhoeven event in New York. Organized by the Manhattan-based cinema archive Film at Lincoln Center, it was a 14-day retrospective that included his 16 feature films and five short subjects, each an example of his ability to “push the boundaries of sex, violence, and accepted good taste to daringly subversive ends.” The four Verhoeven films being added today to the Reeling Back archive (with links to each following the Afterword to this posting) include one of his biggest Hollywood hits, the neo-noir classic that represents his return to the fascination with female agency so prevalent in his European features, 1992’s Basic Instinct.


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Bringing an era alive

Conscience in conflict with reputation

Part of the post-centennial generation of Canadian film pioneers, Ratch Wallace was a performer on both sides of the camera. Born on this day (November 7) in 1944, he explored the social history of rural Ontario in his screenplay for director Alan Bridges’s 1977 Ragtime Summer.

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Jet jock jokes on target

His dream to “bomb stuff, kill people”

First marked 100 years ago today (November 11), Remembrance Day recalls the war that did not end all wars. The joke was on the survivors, who got to do it all over, and over and over again while watching movies such as director Jim Abrahams’s 1991 service comedy Hot Shots!.


Living for another day

Feminism behind the mask of tradition

Celebrated as China’s first feminist, Qiu Jin was born on this day (November 8) in 1875. Regarded as a revolutionary hero by both Communists and Nationalists, her ideas were carried forward by Huang Shuqin, China’s first feminist filmmaker, in her 1987 feature Woman Demon Human.


A bike ride to remember

My Blog; Your Guide to What's New

They’re retired now, but in their day our standard-issue street bicycles gave good service, required minimal maintenance and never needed their operating systems upgraded. They will always have a special place in our hearts because, on this day (October 15) in 1976 . . .



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.