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 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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Commentary
5:00 am
Thu April 10, 2014

'Budapest' A Masterpiece of Symmetry

Credit rottentomatoes.com

The Grand Budapest Hotel is the first movie I've called a masterpiece while admitting I didn't even keep track of whether the story made sense.

The reason is that I was fascinated by the visual motif that contributed so much to the storybook effect that it shared with writer-director Wes Anderson's previous Moonrise Kingdom, which used the same technique to a lesser degree, but to much the same effect.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Thu April 3, 2014

'Noah' Is Visually Impressive, But Lacks Focus

So much rain.

Since the irreverent treatment of Noah has been a tradition in theater since the medieval mystery plays, there is nothing particularly new about the free adaptation of Noah's story in the new movie, Noah.

What is new, and the best thing in the movie, is Industrial Light and Magic's presentation of what I call the "Rock People," gigantic monsters apparently made of volcanic rock with fire glowing inside. They are surprisingly sympathetic, to the point that I wondered why they weren't granted room in the ark.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Thu March 27, 2014

'Gloria' Reflects The Mundanity Of Life

Gloria is a movie from Chile and you have to read subtitles, which marks the end of interest for many moviegoers. But just in case you're the exception, I will continue.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Thu March 20, 2014

'Need For Speed' Is All Cars, All The Time

Professional driver. Do not attempt.
Credit rottentomatoes.com

Like all reviewers, I am sometimes required to go to movies that are not my type and which I am not likely to do justice to. In the case of Need For Speed, for example, a friend told me I should have known that cars that are swerving on the straightaway, skidding on the corners and sometimes spinning around, are being very skillfully driven at speeds in excess of 100 mph.

I thought Need For Speed was simply one of those usual Hollywood hymns to reckless driving.

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