A generation of change

My Blog; Your Guide to What's New

Published: Mar 30 2016, 01:01:am

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

     March roared in lionlike, as the world's all-news networks focused their attention on the Super Tuesday presidential primary elections in the U.S. The third month of 2016 offered up a cacophony of explosive headlines from around the world, as social, political, racial and religious differences produced a series of violent events.

     Oh, and Twitter turned 10.

    An online social networking service that enables users to send and read short 140-character messages called "tweets," Twitter marked its 10th anniversary a week ago Monday (March 21). Much was made of how the company's co-founder, Jack Dorsey, inaugurated the technology with the five-word message "just setting up my twttr". Chat show participants prattled on about how our social, political, racial and religious interactions have been changed as a result.

    Listening to the "experts," I found myself wondering what Marshall McLuhan (or, for that matter James Burke, creator of the 1985 BBC-TV series The Day the Universe Changed) would have made of it all. Doing a little checking of my own, I discovered that media mavens actually have a lot to celebrate in 2016.
        A generation of change began in 1996. That year, we saw the introduction of Personal Data Assistants (PDAs) by such companies as Palm and Nokia, setting off the first wave of mobile devices that are now known as Smartphones. But wait, as they say in the early morning infomercials, there's more.

     In 1996 in Japan, Toshiba introduced the DVD video format. In Britain, online film buff Col Needham incorporated the Internet Movie Database Ltd. Although I've never acquired a mobile phone, I consider DVDs and the IMDb among the 20th Century's great inventions.

    The Internet, a pretty good idea overall, became more useful as a mass medium with the addition of the Google web search engine, the core product of a company incorporated in 1998. In 2001, life online improved yet again with the launch of Wikipedia, and life in general benefited from the introduction of that marvellous little music machine, the iPod.

    I'm less enthusiastic about Facebook, the social networking service launched in 2004, or the YouTube video sharing site created in 2005. That's just me, though.

     Told that I really needed to have a Reeling Back Facebook page, I said OK — as long as someone else would set it up and run it. Someone else did, and does. And I'm grateful.

     Tech-wise, I have enough on my hands just working away at this website. And the Reeling Back archive continues to grow, with the last 10 additions being:

LISTEN UP: THE LIVES OF QUINCY JONES — Documentary director Ellen Weissbrod made her feature film debut with this 1990 examination of the eclectic African-American composer whose accomplishments include producing and writing the score for Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple. (Posted March 26)

THE COLOR PURPLE — Based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, this 1985 feature introduced audiences to both Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey. The tale of an abused black woman in the rural American South, it was blockbuster director Steven Spielberg's first serious drama. (Posted March 26)

LATITUDE 55° — Andrée Pelletier and August Schellenberg co-star in the surreal story of an urban Alberta woman "saved" from a snowstorm by a rural recluse. Canadian theatre legend John Juliani co-wrote, produced and directed this 1982 feature. (Posted March 24)

JOHN JULIANI (interview) — In 1981, during post-production on his feature film Latitude 55°, writer-director John Juliani sat down with me in Vancouver to talk about deal making, balancing personal and cultural identity, nude scenes and the risks involved in making movies in Canada. (Posted March 24)

ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD — Adapting his 1966 stage play to the screen, debuting film director Tom Stoppard looked at Shakespeare's Hamlet through the eyes of its most minor characters. Gary Oldman and Tim Roth have the title roles in this sophisticated 1990 comedy. (Posted March 21)

THE NEPTUNE FACTOR — Nova Scotia-born director Daniel Petrie returned to Halifax with a Hollywood cast that included Ben Gazzara, Ernest Borgnine and Yvette Mimieux in this 1973 underwater epic. New Brunswick-born Walter Pidgeon added to the adventure-thriller's Canadian cred. (Posted March 17)

THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE (1983) — Filmed in 3D, this 1983 comedy "introduced" talented Canadian actress Lisa Langlois to U.S. audiences. Unfortunately, director Bruce Malmuth's feature starred Steve Guttenberg in the title role, and people stayed away in droves. (Posted March 15)

THE THREE CABALLEROS — Energy and imagination abound in this 1945 Disney cartoon musical filmed to further the U.S. "Good Neighbor" policy toward Latin America. Donald Duck shares the screen with his Brazilian buddy Jose Carioca and Mexican amigo Panchito Pistoles. (Posted March 13)

THE RAINBOW BOYS — The director of the 1981 cartoon feature Heavy Metal, Gerald Potterton earned his place in Canadian film history as an animator. He was less successful with his one live-action feature, this 1973 drama that starred Donald Pleasence as the heir to a Rocky Mountain gold mine. (Posted March 8)

DONALD PLEASENCE (interview) — In Vancouver for the 1973 world premiere of The Rainbow Boys, a B.C.-made film in which he starred, Donald Pleasence told me of his preference for live theatre, the disappointments of film production, emerging Canadian cinema and life as a major movie villain. (Posted March 8)