Thursday, August 6, 2015
By MICHAEL WALSH
Politics. It was impossible to avoid over this past weekend.
At the same time that Republican party presidential hopefuls were gathering for a "summer seminar" with the billionaire Koch brothers in the U.S., Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper was requesting the Governor General's permission to call a federal election.
In both cases, the outcomes were a foregone conclusion. Yes, Canadians will go to the polls on October 19. Yes, every one of the would-be candidates summoned to the three-day (August 1-3) event in California pledged fealty to the interests of the fossil fuel industry so dear to the hearts (and fortunes) of Charles and David Koch.
On Monday, the incumbent U.S. president announced his administration's "Clean Power Plan." In his speech, Barack Obama warned that the world may no longer be able to reverse global warming unless aggressive action is taken. American leadership is needed to cut power-plant emissions and boost the use of renewable energy.
Obama's plan was the subject of the August 3 Inside Story, a daily discussion show broadcast on the Al Jazeera English all-news network. From its studio in Doha, Qatar, Adrian Finighan moderated a conversation that included speakers in Geneva, Beijing and New York. Most interesting to me were the comments of Jochen Wermuth, identified as a Berlin-based asset-fund manager.
Wermuth, a Greenpeace contributor and advocate of renewable energy sources, took issue with the idea that fossil fuels must remain the dominant component of the world's energy mix into the foreseeable future. He asserted that the mass media remain in thrall to the claims of oil industry "propaganda" that renewables are neither economic nor reliable.
Pointing to Germany's positive experience with renewables, he likened the assertions of fossil fuel partisans to those of the tobacco industry in the days when it denied that cigarette smoking caused cancer. At the heart of Wermuth's argument was the idea that advertising dollars are routinely used to confuse the public about what is and is not true.
And what of politics? Within hours of their attendance at the Koch brothers event, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Florida genator Marco Rubio, Texas senator Ted Cruz, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and corporate executive Carly Fiorina were asked to comment on Obama's environmental initiative.
Without exception, they denounced it. In words that must have been music to the ears of their corporate sponsors, they declared that, if elected, they'd take all necessary measures to preserve American jobs: code for doing the bidding of billionaire industrialists and financiers.
Meanwhile, at home . . . well, I'm still sorting out my thoughts on what pundits are calling "the most historic Canadian election in decades." For the moment, I'm more focused on making additions to the Reeling Back archive where the 10 most recent postings were:
PORKY'S II: THE NEXT DAY — Remembered as one of Canada's most successful directors, American-born Bob Clark made eight features during his decade in Toronto. The last was this 1982 teen comedy, the sequel to his epic money-maker, Porky's. (Posted August 5)
SCI-FI'S BRITISH EMPIRE QUIZ — To mark the B.C. Day statutory holiday, Reeling Back recalled that ours is the only Canadian province with the word "British" in its name, and offered this test of its visitors' knowledge of the influence of Britain and Britons on science-fiction and fantasy cinema. (Posted August 3)
DON'T LOOK NOW — For many fans of psychics in the cinema, director Nicholas Roeg's atmospheric 1974 thriller remains a classic of the genre. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie starred as an English couple dealing with a death during a visit to Venice. (Posted August 2)
THE MAD ADVENTURES OF 'RABBI' JACOB — Louis De Funès, the biggest international star Americans never heard of, had the title role in this 1973 farce from French director Gérard Oury, a picture that contained an eloquent plea for tolerance at a time of increasing tensions between Arabs and Jews. (Posted July 31)
BOB PORTER (interview) — In a little-known tale of feature film entrepreneurship, Burnaby businessman Bob Porter, a self-described "Sound of Music type," made an investment that made the 1974 softcore sex comedy Flesh Gordon possible. (Posted July 30)
OUR FEATURE FILM FEST: 13 — In Part 13 of a 20-part series, Reeling Back continues The Greater Vancouver Book Feature Film Festival with restored notes on the 10 B.C.-made movies about Things that Go Bump in the Night. (Posted July 28)
SPEED — Sandra Bullock, America's best-loved actress at the turn of the 21st century, broke out as a star behind the wheel of an L.A. express bus rigged with a bomb, in director Jan De Bont's 1994 action thriller. (Posted August 5)
THE SWORD IN THE STONE — Artistic inspiration was almost entirely absent from this 1963 look at King Arthur's boyhood adventures. Disney's cartoon factory workers produced a formula animated musical that reduced the mighty magician Merlin to a dotty fairy godfather. (Posted July 23)
HOUSEHOLD SAINTS — In her 1994 domestic drama, independent filmmaker Nancy Savoca spoke to the lived experience of three generations of Catholic women in New York's Little Italy. Her luminescent fantasy explores streets that are mystic rather than mean. (Posted July 23)
ALADDIN — in 1992, Robin Williams brought the magic back to the long-moribund Disney animation division. His voice performance as the blue-hued Genie was at the heart of this non-stop cartoon celebration based on a story from The Arabian Nights. (Posted July 21)