Rick McGinnis

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Was Network prescient?

Was Network prescient?

When it was released in 1976, the movie Network was publicized as an “outrageous” comedy, a satire that imagined a worst case dystopia of the near future, based on the dismal precedents being set in the horrid ‘70s. It’s a sign of how far past mere movie satire we’ve gone that it’s been turned into a musical on the London stage, starring Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame. The film ... (Continue reading)

Hefner, Weinstein and the culture

Hefner, Weinstein and the culture

The rancid feast that is the news cycle served up a pair of groaning platters recently when the death of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner was quickly followed up by the destruction of the public reputation of Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood producer and the founder of Miramax studios. Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy and champion of ... (Continue reading)

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Overselling the creative class

Overselling the creative class

In 2002, Richard Florida published his book The Rise of the Creative Class and made a career for himself as an urban theorist, traveling the world lecturing and advising on how struggling, economically challenged cities could revive themselves. His “creative class” – a loose coalition that included artists, tech workers, academics and, interestingly, gay men and women – were rebuilding decimated downtown neighbourhoods and could do the same almost ... (Continue reading)

Dunkirk highlights today’s social divisions

Dunkirk highlights today’s social divisions

In a summer of box office disappointments, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk was an unexpected hit, since nobody thought that an epic film about the evacuation of British troops from Europe in the early days of World War II would be much more than a money-losing Oscar contender, meant to open deep in autumn. This would be the popular image of what was known as the “miracle of Dunkirk,” where the line between soldiers and citizens was erased just before the nation would ... (Continue reading)

1975 summer blockbuster about corrupt man, not nature

1975 summer blockbuster about corrupt man, not nature

The arrival of the first warm days brings with it the summer blockbuster, a seasonal indicator as venerable as crowded cottage weekends, sandy beach towels, the chemical cocktail of bug spray and sunscreen and the smell of gas generator exhaust and cotton candy at a fairground. The summer blockbuster has been declining with the general fortunes of Hollywood lately – this summer is predicted to be down by at least 10 per cent, thanks to early flops like King Arthur ... (Continue reading)

Baby Boomers caused great harm

Baby Boomers caused great harm

Just at the zenith of their political, cultural and social influence, it has become fashionable to turn a corrosive eye on the Baby Boomers, that huge generational cohort born somewhere between the final years of the Second World War and the beginning of Beatlemania outside of Britain. Keep in mind that very little of this is self-critical; the generation preceding the Boomers is far too old and diminished to ... (Continue reading)

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The cultured life

The cultured life

Culture is one of those words – like marriage, society, science, family and gender - that we use a lot these days. And like those words, if you stopped the argument where it’s being used, it’s unlikely that everyone using it would share the same definition. I’m sure this has been the case for at least a generation now, but I’ve slowly come to the realization that, the longer this situation persists, the less likely it is that, in some ... (Continue reading)

The Young Pope garners young conservative following

There’s a scene at the beginning of the season finale of The Young Pope that sums up this controversial HBO series as much as any of a dozen or so startling scenes in the previous nine hours. The titular pontiff, played by Jude Law, has just been told by his director of publicity that he is scheduled to lead a group of schoolchildren on a tour of ... (Continue reading)

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Fake news is nothing new

Fake news is nothing new

There’s a story my family likes to tell about the only time my mother’s photo ever appeared in a national newspaper. She had been invited to the offices of the Toronto Star with several other women, where the paper had apparently set up a test kitchen. Several dishes were baked, interviews were conducted, and photos were taken of the women. When the story ran my mother appeared in newsprint showing off her favorite pie recipe. She told everyone that it wasn’t ... (Continue reading)

Close encounters with first-contact movies

Close encounters with first-contact movies

I have always been a sucker for the “first-contact” subgenre of sci-fi movies – films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Contact, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, District 9 and, at the very genesis of the genre, The Day The Earth Stood Still. Distinct from the usual sort of sci-fi that re-imagines westerns or war movies with ray guns and space ships, these films try to imagine how ... (Continue reading)

Politics and the social media bubble

Politics and the social media bubble

Depending on what you read on my Facebook page this month, the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency was either the onset of fascism on American soil or the beginning of the return of American greatness. There was little in the way of middle ground, and keep in mind that the majority of my friends on social media are Canadians, unable to vote in the U.S. election ... (Continue reading)

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The natural world doesn’t care about you

The natural world doesn’t care about you

I was born and raised a city kid; you have to go back to Scotland and Queen Victoria to find someone in my family who lived and worked in the country. Pavement and asphalt are my natural habitat, so it was with some unease that I bought my first pair of hiking shoes this year, in preparation for a trip to Ireland that involved climbing to the peak of ... (Continue reading)

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The majestic sky

The majestic sky

Clouds as a gateway to God Red Lodge Montana I spent 20 years of my life running from God. I won’t go into the reasons here – for a long time I blamed poor religious education, but that was just an excuse – but I began my adult life in full flight from questions about God, faith and spirituality. Obviously I didn’t run fast or ... (Continue reading)

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Surviving university

Surviving university

University of Western Ontario Early this summer I attended a graduation party for a small, private Catholic high school where the children of several friends were saying farewell to classmates and teachers they had known for years – some of them since kindergarten. Many of these young men and women were babies when I first met them, so this pleasant evening was tinged with melancholy thoughts about ... (Continue reading)

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Appreciating Whit Stillman’s comedies of manners

Appreciating Whit Stillman’s comedies of manners

Whit Stillman, New York City August 1990. My youngest daughter is fond of asking unanswerable questions like “what’s your favorite food?” or “who’s your favorite band?” I usually answer that I’m too old to have favorite anythings anymore, but she hasn’t asked me “who’s your favorite living movie director?” yet, and that would be easy to answer: Whit Stillman. Stillman is an American who burst ... (Continue reading)

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