High summer surge

My Blog; Your Guide to What's New

Published: Jul 19 2014, 01:01:am

Saturday, July 19, 2014

    Launched on the first day of the 2013 VCON science fiction convention in Richmond, B.C., Reeling Back will be one year old on the second day of VCON 39. By then, I hope to have 200+ reviews available on the site. That seems doable, given that it already features 171 reviews (among 230 postings). The dozen most recent reviews were:

SPEAKING PARTS — Perhaps the most successful director to emerge from the Toronto "New Wave" of the 1980s, Atom Egoyan gained fame on the film festival circuit. In this 1989 feature, he cooly charted a course between experimental and exploitation cinema. (Posted July 19)

ORDINARY PEOPLE — Canadian-born actor Donald Sutherland's solid performance was the rock at the centre of fellow actor Robert Redford's 1980 directorial debut feature. A low-key family drama, it established Redford as a serious cinema force. (Posted July 17)

BETHUNE: THE MAKING OF A HERO — For actor Donald Sutherland, it was personal. Playing the Canadian doctor Norman Bethune in director Philip Borsos's 1990 biographical drama gave him the opportunity to bring to the screen the historical figure he most admires. (Posted July 17)

BLAZE — Since meeting during the making of his 1989 tale of unlikely lovers (stripper Blaze Starr and Louisiana governor Earl Long), Canadian actress Lolita Davidovich and American writer-director Ron Shelton have made an atypically successful Hollywood marriage. (Posted July 15)

ROCKY IV — In the movie business, love often blossoms in the workplace. So it was for tall, blonde Danish actress Brigitte Nielsen, who married writer-director Sylvester Stallone after playing a supporting role in the made-in-Vancouver addition to his series of patriotic boxer films. (Posted July 15)

BLADE RUNNER — Self-effacing former Chicagoan (and Boy Scout) Harrison Ford became the go-to 1980s action hero with starring roles in the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. In 1982, he added director Ridley Scott's stylish future noir feature to his credits list. (Posted July 13)

THE ROWDYMAN — During his first half-century as a feature film actor, Gordon Pinsent established himself as a multi-talented Canadian icon. In 1972, he made his debut as a screenwriter, going on to celebrate his Newfoundland roots as high-spirited rogue Will Cole. (Posted July 12)

HENRY V — You'd hardly think that the names Thomas Bowdler and Laurence Olivier belong in the same sentence. And yet, in 1989, they came together in my review of actor-director Kenneth Branagh's breathtaking screen adaptation of Shakespeare's rousing history play. (Posted July 11)

SUPERMAN II — To mark the birthday of the Man of Steel's Canadian-born co-creator Joe Shuster, Reeling Back revisited 1980's second film in the first series of feature adaptations, and marvelled anew at actress Margot Kidder's portrayal of archetypal girl reporter Lois Lane. (Posted July 10)

KING LEAR — Noting that Vancouver's annual Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival is now in full swing, we recalled the day when great movies, such as Grigori Kozintsev's Russian-language Korol Lir (1971) were the main source of sustenance for die-hard Bard buffs. (Posted July 9)

LAWRENCE OF ARABIA — Understanding today's headlines, so full of Middle-Eastern mayhem, new acronyms such as ISIS and ISIL, and the old concept of a Caliphate, requires a refresher course in the Sykes-Picot controversy. What better place to start than with David Lean's 1962 epic. (Posted July 6)

AMERICAN GRAFFITI — Director George Lucas made his big breakthrough in 1973, distilling the spirit of the Fourth of July into a movie. Five years later, he showed his class by reissuing the picture in a director's cut that really was renewed and improved. (Posted July 4)