Sunday, December 6, 2015
By MICHAEL WALSH
Newsstands offer a window on the world. Granted, the view is skewed and limited to the commercial interests of an ever smaller number of corporately-concentrated publishing houses. In Vancouver, for the most part, the views offered are those of the English-language periodical press.
The magazine rack at the neighbourhood Shoppers Drug Mart stocks more than 175 magazine titles. Today, standing in front of this collage of covers, I'm provided with a snapshot of what the print media considers important.
Overall, the new Star Wars movie (scheduled for release December 18) rules. It's currently featured on seven covers (including Popular Science) and it will be the cover story on the December 14 issue of Time.
"Christmas Gift Guides" are the most important element on at least five more magazine covers, with most of the rest concentrating on the particular seasonal interests of their niche readerships. Titles dedicated to fashion, health, food, sports, celebrity gossip and consumer electronics compete for attention within the mix.
If the ongoing 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, with its focus on mitigating the calamitous effects of global warming, is truly important, you'd think that every responsible publisher would be providing readers with coverage keyed to their specific interest areas.
Perhaps the most disappointing is its absence from the the special year-end review issues — the "collector's editions" — of the self-described newsmagazines, Time, Maclean's and The Economist.
The regular issue (cover dated December 4) of the U.S. news weekly features as its cover story "World War ISIS," while the December 2 edition of Canada's self-identified "National Magazine" offers readers "The Power Issue," devoted to "The 50 Most Important People in Canada."
The single exception was the December 4 regular edition of Britain's The Economist, with its 14-page special report, "Clear Thinking on Climate Change." Just one cover in the 175 competing for the reader's eye is focused on the single greatest challenge to face the human race in, like, ever.
On second thought, it may be that I'm the one out of step here. I persist in calling the magazine display a "newsstand," when what I should be seeing is an "infotainment centre."
There, now. I feel better. Let's get on with stocking the cyber-shelves of my own Reeling Back archive. The ten most recent additions are:
ONCE UPON A FOREST — Its good intentions notwithstanding, this 1993 cartoon feature adaptation of an eco-friendly picture book misses the mark. In it, a trio of "furlings," consisting of a mouse, a mole and a badger, seek to mitigate an environmental disaster greedy men have visited upon their Edenic Dapplewood. (Posted December 5)
THE CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR — Prominent in the subgenre of films set in prehistoric times, director Michael Chapman's 1986 adaptation of Jean Auel's novel benefitted from spectacular British Columbia wilderness locations. Fresh from her career-making performance in Splash (1984), Daryl Hannah took on the role of Cro-Magnon orphan Ayla. (Posted December 3)
LOVE YOU! — Before starring in the Hollywood blockbuster 10, Bo Derek worked as the producer on her husband John's 1779 attempt at elegant erotica. The X-rated tale of two couples experimenting with open marriage, it featured the porn film superstar Annette Haven. (Posted December 1)
JOHN DEREK (feature) — During a visit to Vancouver to promote the world premiere of his 1979 adult feature Love You!, writer-director John Derek spoke to University of B.C. film students about sex, Hollywood executives and his personal effort to help screen pornography graduate into an art form. (Posted December 1)
PAPER WEDDING (Les Noces de Papier) — Under the direction of her old friend Michel Brault, Québec screen gem Geneviève Bujold plays a middle-aged spinster who enters into a marriage of convenience with a political refugee. This 1990 drama captured the emotional drama within an issue that remains controversial to this day. (Posted November 28)
BROADWAY DANNY ROSE — Not the most successful of writer-director Woody Allen's New York comedies, this 1984 black-and-white feature found farce in show business nostalgia. Allen stars as a "legendary" vaudeville talent agent who incurs the wrath of a jealous mob boss. (Posted November 26)
THE PURSUIT OF D.B. COOPER — The only unsolved case of air piracy in U.S. aviation history, the mystery surrounding the 1971 Pacific Coast skyjacking allowed director Roger Spottiswoode much latitude for speculation in this 1981 action comedy. Treat Williams plays the pseudonymous anti-hero. (Posted November 24)
SILVER STREAK — Edmonton-born director Arthur Hiller cast the CPR's iconic Canadian in the title role of his 1976 comedy celebrating the adventure of transcontinental train travel. Among its passengers are Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, in the first of their four pictures together. (Posted November 22)
DUCK TALES THE MOVIE: TREASURE OF THE LOST LAMP — As conceived by writer-artist Carl Barks, Donald Duck's Uncle Scrooge McDuck is one of the great comic-book characters. Too bad that the wit and imagination of his life in print failed to make it into this 1990 cartoon feature. (Posted November 19)
MOONRAKER — Directed by Lewis Gilbert, this 1979 feature was the most entertaining of Roger Moore's seven outings in the James Bond role. The film recognized agent 007's potential as a sci-fi comic-book hero. (Posted November 17)