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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Some people can accomplish remarkable things despite the fact that they are in constant physical pain-- John F. Kennedy, for example.

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American Sniper is Clint Eastwood's latest picture of men at war, and it isn't a pretty picture. The director who in 1986 tried in Heartbreak Ridge to make something noble and heroic out of the operation in Grenada is now looking at the less-than-John Wayne heroics of snipers.

Since about the only negative criticism of the movie Selma involves its historical accuracy, let's start with that.

It is accused of misrepresenting President Lyndon Baines Johnson and his relations to Martin Luther King's famous and influential marches from Selma, Ala., to Washington, D.C., in the early '60s, and of attributing to Johnson the origin of J. Edgar Hoover's idea of audiotaping King's sex life and sending the tapes to King's wife, when it was actually Robert Kennedy who had come up with the idea years earlier.

Before saying anything about Big Eyes, the new Amy Adams movie, let me say something about her co-star, Christoph Waltz.

I can barely tolerate him.

I'll give him his Academy Awards for Django Unchained, in a part obviously tailored for him, but his other Oscar, for Inglourious Basterds, will ever be a mystery to me because he seemed like a pure slice of Teutonic ham, completely out of touch with everything else in the film.

The Imitation Game got top ratings from the two people I talked to in the lobby, but to me it seemed overburdened with subthemes and lacking a central spine.

Wild is the only movie I've reviewed that kept me so involved that I didn't finish my popcorn.

And all it's really about is Reese Witherspoon reenacting the true story of a woman who walked the 1000-mile Pacific Coast Trail from the Mojave Desert to Washington state to see if she could shake loose from the depression caused by a pretty shabby lifestyle and the death of the only worthwhile person in it-- her mother, played by Laura Dern.

Exodus: Gods and Kings is a rather peculiar version of the story of Moses.

It includes the 10 plagues, including the plague of crocodiles, and a really spectacular parting of the Red Sea, though Moses seems to have little to do with any of these things. But it doesn't totally dodge the supernatural-- it shows God Himself as a little boy who just sort of hangs around watching Moses write the Ten Commandments and never says much of anything.

Well, people kept asking about it, so I finally went and saw Interstellar and found it much better than I had expected.

Its science is pretty ridiculous, and the last hour does not fit too well with the first two, but if it is looked at as fantasy instead of science fiction, it holds up pretty well. And it certainly is never boring for its full three hours.

Much as I admire The Theory of Everything, the supposedly true movie of the life of scientific genius Stephen Hawking, I can't quite go along with the two women I talked with in the lobby, one of whom said she loved it and intended to see it again, and the other who said it was the best movie she'd ever seen and she wanted to see it several more times.

I'd certainly give it high marks for what it intends to be, but the material itself (especially when we learn in the closing credits that it is based on a memoir by the wife) properly precludes a complete story.

It is a hard thing to have to review Part Three of a four-part series without having seen Parts One and Two. There is bound to be a certain unclarity as to what has happened before and how the characters relate to each other, because the beginning setups are not there, and since the movie ends when it is only three-quarters done, there can be no satisfactory closure. Even those who thought The Empire Strikes Back was the best of the Star Wars trilogy had to admit that.

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