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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Commentary
5:00 am
Thu June 19, 2014

'Dragon' Is Enjoyable, Despite Lack Of Surprises

How To Train Your Dragon 2 is a typically enjoyable, superior animation with most of the usual pluses of the form and only a few typical minuses. It's conventional in story and thin on characterization, pictorially beautiful, generally comic, and modest as to any ambition beyond entertainment.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Thu June 12, 2014

'Belle' Is First-Rate In Nearly Every Way

Gugu Mbatha-Raw as 'Belle'

Belle is a very compact and complicated movie, and if your hearing is as bad as mine, you will want to ask the ticket booth for a free set of headphones because you won’t want to miss any of the dialogue, which is so well written that you’ll have no trouble following the numerous plots and themes.

Belle, beautifully played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, is an orphan, mixed-race, and a love child born out of wedlock, and all three conditions are important as she comes to live with Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson in England in 1769.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Thu June 5, 2014

'A Million Ways To Die In The West' Is Both Hilariously Funny And In Horrible Taste

Credit Rottentomatoes.com

A Million Ways To Die In The West is said to be both hilariously funny and in horrible taste and it is both.

What is most surprising is that it is also, and I hate this word but it’s the only one that fits, sweet.

The relationship between Seth MacFarlane and Charlize Theron is so restrained and gentle, and the Theron character is so impossibly likable and kind, despite her backstory, that she is psychologically impossible, and the return to raunchiness when they are off-screen was really unwelcome, to me, even when it was very funny.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Thu May 29, 2014

'The Immigrant' Is A Consistently Interesting Movie Without Any Heroes Or Villains

Credit rottentomatoes.com

The Immigrant is a consistently interesting, but rather forlorn movie about Marion Cotillard’s troubles getting her tubercular sister past Ellis Island and into the United States, with the rather questionable help of Joaquin Phoenix, back in 1921.

It’s notable for its extremely persuasive, I am willing to assume authentic, production values and a fascinating performance by Phoenix, bit it’s not exactly the cheeriest movie in town.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Thu May 22, 2014

'Million Dollar Arm' Is Entertaining, But It Could Have Been So Much More

Credit rottentomatoes.com

Million Dollar Arm is an entertaining trifle full of material that should have added up to a lot more.

John Hamm goes to India to find recruits for his failing baseball business, and recruits a cricket player and a javelin thrower on the assumption that all a baseball player needs is the ability to throw a ball with quicksilver speed and missile accuracy.

At least, that’s all the boys work at, and nobody assumes they should do more, including Alan Arkin, the chief comedy character, a baseball scout who can judge a pitch by the sound of the ball passing.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Turturro's 'Gigolo' Is Full Of Surprises

Woody Allen and John Turturro discuss the finer points of their profession in 'Fading Gigolo'

Fading Gigolo is a four-star movie, or almost, and a good deal different from what you might expect.

For one thing, Fading Gigolo is written and directed by John Turturro-- Woody Allen co-stars with Turturro , but neither writes nor directs. And while the premise is Allen promoting and managing Turturro's career a companion with privileges for lonely women, it is not particularly sexy.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Thu May 8, 2014

'Oculus' Is First-Rate Horror

There would seem to be some disagreement about the new horror movie Oculus. I would give it a top four stars, the Wichita Eagle gave it three, and the three ladies I talked to after the show varied from one who gave it four out of a possible five, and the other two who gave it between two and three.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Thu May 1, 2014

Leslie Mann Shines In 'The Other Woman'

The Other Woman is a revenge comedy for women, who will probably enjoy it a good deal more than men-- for one thing, because they will probably see Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as more of a villain than men will and more deserving of what happens at the end, which is a little out of tone with most of what has gone before and descends into terrible taste, though the audience kept laughing. And The Other Woman is mostly about sex, but the ending is mostly about money.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Thu April 24, 2014

'Bears' Not All Cute and Fuzzy

Credit rottentomatoes.com

Bears is a much more straightforward nature movie than you might expect. The story of a pair of brown bear cubs and their mother through their first year together, it doesn't try to escape the inevitable cuteness of bear cubs, but except for that, it does not present the life in nature as being cute at all.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Thu April 17, 2014

'Draft Day' Probably Just For Die-Hard Fans

Kevin Costner thinks really hard about football in 'Draft Day'
Credit rottentomatoes.com

Draft Day is made for people who know about the National Football League's draft system and care who gets to play for the Cleveland Browns. People like me, who can't even follow the scene in which Kevin Costner and Denis Leary and a lot of others look at clips of Chadwick Boseman and Josh Pence at play at then analyze what they do, were far from the concerns of director Ivan Reitman or anybody else, and should perhaps just let other people do the reviews.

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