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Movie Rewind

Looking Back: Mars Attacks! (1996)

Tim Burton’s 1996 sci-fi send-up, “Mars Attacks!,” offered me a humbling example of the sometimes extreme difference between initial audience reaction and overall response to a film. In this case, Burton’s unapologetically weird throwback to 50’s B-movies, presented with a knockout cast and state of the art effects. It was one of the big curiosity items of 1996, as it …

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Looking Back: The Last Boy Scout (1991)

When Bruce Willis played Joe Hallenback, the fallen hero of Tony Scott’s “The Last Boy Scout,” his image was already as tarnished and beaten down as the character. Willis had survived the summer of 1991, in which “Hudson Hawk,” his treasure pet project, had become a high profile flop and a pinata for movie critics. Suddenly, the star of “Die …

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Looking Back: Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)

The journey of Bill and Ted as a movie franchise was such a surprise that even its studio didn’t quite know what to do with the sequel. The original “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” was shot largely in 1987 with modest expectations at best and belatedly released two years later. The comedy, a time traveling goof about two dimwitted teens …

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Looking Back: The Evening Star (1996)

Some sequels need defending and, from the day it opened, “The Evening Star” has always been one of them. Ostensibly “Terms of Endearment II,” this came a decade and three years later and no longer stars Debra Winger, whose Emma died at the end of the first film. The focus of the follow up film (and the Larry McMurtry novel …

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Looking Back: Dutch (1991)

There’s always been an edge to the works of John Hughes and to a surprising degree. Most remember the Chicago-based screenwriter as the author of definitively 80’s teen comedy romances. He’s the man who gave us “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Weird Science,” “Pretty in Pink,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Some Kind of Wonderful,” to name a few of …

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Looking Back: Novocaine (2001)

Steve Martin’s remarkable career needs no introduction but is a toy chest of wonders to behold. His achievements includes being a magician at Disneyland, becoming one of the most original stand up comedians of his generation, a celebrated art collector, bona fide movie star and celebrated author and playwright. I should also, for the sake of being thorough, mention he …

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Looking Back: Exit Wounds (2001)

Prior to becoming a beloved reality TV star, real life deputy and former 1990’s mega-movie star, Steven Seagal was once a man in need of a giant comeback. Seagal, with his pony tail, dark attire, whispery voice and intense presence, had a fairy tale career trajectory that would be too far-fetched for most films. After all, only in the movies …

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Looking Back: Sleepers (1996)

The recent success of Best Picture Oscar winner “Spotlight” motivated me to revisit “Sleepers,” the controversial 1996 thriller that covered similar thematic ground. The film’s controversial quality came from the film’s origin, the novel from Lorenzo Carcaterra. Reporters questioned the validity of Carcaterra’s novel, which was said to be based on a true story. The book was a #1 bestseller, …

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Looking Back: House Party 2 (1991)

Nostalgia doesn’t always reward those with a need to revisit the past. This is the cruel reminder of what happens when you give a footnote from your childhood another look, even as you recall it wasn’t so hot the first time. Anyone who knows me fairly well can attest that I’m a huge fan of Reginald and Warrington Hudlin’s 1990 …

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Looking Back: The Shipping News (2001)

I recently paid a visit to the Friends of the Library Bookstore, the one behind the sugar cane mill that represents so much of Maui’s past and uncertain future. The drive over there, on dirt roads past the mill, alongside where the abandoned church still stands and homes once were, overwhelms me with thoughts of Hawaii’s past and my place …

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