Jim Erickson

Movie reviewer

Jim Erickson has been KMUW's film reviewer since 1974. He came to Wichita State University in 1964 from the University of Texas in Austin. He taught narrative in literature and film from 1966 until his retirement in 1997. His favorite film is Citizen Kane.

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"The Infiltrator" ​shook me up enough that I dreamed that night about an undercover man who turns into a positive monster. Which is ironic, because Bryan Cranston is not personally corrupted by his years as an undercover man pursuing a Colombian drug cartel. 

It's hard to say much about Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates because it's basically just a number of funny scenes about a quartet of likeable frauds in a predictable story of social romantic intrigue that has nothing in mind but keeping you amused, at which it is very successful. Delicate people may be disturbed by its comic amorality and especially its language, but the whole thing is so silly and unbelievable that it pretty much wins you over.

Alexander Skarsgard's Tarzan in the new Legend of Tarzan has been living in London as a prominent citizen for along time, and even when he is sent to Africa on a government mission, he dresses and looks more like Stewart Granger than Johnny Weismuller.

Writer-director Gary Ross says the important part of his Free State of Jones, which takes place during the Civil War and Reconstruction, is about trying to restore the conditions of slavery. Ross says Hollywood never covers this, unless you count things like Gone with the Wind. Free State of Jones doesn't cover it either: Only about the last half hour is about it, and it's pretty sketchy coverage, with too many key events left out and only described in titles printed on the screen.

 Central Intelligence is less a story that it is a mere jumbling together of a bag of routines and conventions and cliches from other buddy thrillers, linked loosely together by little shreds and patches of dialogue scenes that suggest a central plot that may or may not hold together into a coherent story. But it has an irresistible spirit of Let's Have Fun and a delightfully charming star in Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, a magnificent giant of a man with a real gift for using his physique for comedy.

The Conjuring 2 claims to be based on "one of the most documented cases in paranormal history," but credits its story to three of its four screenplay writers, one of whom is also its director.

For the first half hour or so, I thought I understood what The Lobster was trying to be about. It's set in a society where bachelor-hood is illegal and unmarried men of a certain age have to find a mate within establishment society inside of 45 days or they will be turned into animals of their choice; our hero has chosen to be a lobster, maybe because lobsters have hard shells and big claws to defend themselves against attackers. The fact that they are customarily boiled alive for food didn't seem to fit, but parodies are seldom complete in detail.  

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I am mystified by the continual popularity of Jane Austen, whose neoclassicism seems to me as outside modern aesthetics as my own. The audience I watched Love and Friendship with laughed a lot more often than I did. But the stiff formality of Austen's times kept the characters speaking in a conversational manner with hands hanging at their sides until they sounded too much the same, and their grammatically pure sentences sounded too literary.

The Nice Guys is a thoroughly enjoyable mystery thriller along the lines of the Lethal Weapon series.

The film offers Ryan Gosling as the slick detective who can't quite make it slick, and Russell Crowe as the slob detective who is a little too brutal for his role, but who has a soft side brought out mostly in relation to 12-year-old Angourie Rice, a remarkably restrained and natural actress who functions as heroine and is as good a detective as the other two and a stretch more likeable.

Money Monster is a first-rate suspense movie about a hostage situation, frequently compared to Sidney Lumet and Al Pacino's Dog Day Afternoon. But Money Monster is a lot more complicated than Dog Day Afternoon, with a lot more to think about. The hostage taker this time has a much more public motive, and the movie has a lot more relevance to public issues and current public debate.

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