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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Rethinking 'Birdman'

Mar 5, 2015

Because of all the fuss about Birdman, I saw it again and must admit I have a lot more respect for it on the second try.

I think by original review was too concerned about the transitions between scenes of the past and mental action and shifting points of view, and I didn't concentrate on the scenes themselves, which seem to work together pretty clearly to represent the complexities of a complicated world full of complicated people trying to work together.

Still Alice is a movie masterpiece that is not a pleasant experience to watch.

Julianne Moore slowly disintegrates from Alzheimer's before our eyes, and her performance is so compelling that I, at least, kept telling myself, "This is only a movie, I can escape it soon."

But you really can't. We all know that people are going through this dreadful process every day, and none of us can feel safe from it ourselves.

I and a prominent Wichitan, whose name I did not ask for permission to use, agreed that the movie of Fifty Shades of Grey is nowhere nearly as bad as the Rotten Tomatoes and other reviews make it out to be, and I can personally testify that it is very much better than E.L. James' all-but-unreadable novel.

Just assigning actors to portray James' undeveloped characters would have given them at least the personalities of human beings, and Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan do what they can to make them interesting.

The new Australian horror cheapie The Babadook got a test run at the Palace West a couple weekends ago and went over well enough that it's been booked into a full run at the Palace, and lovers of horror movies should not miss it.

I know little about seven-year-old children and I understand less about why people want to be involved with them. So I approached Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer's new movie Black or White with no expectations that I would enjoy it as much as I did.

Costner and Spencer are involved in a custody battle over new child star Jillian Estell, who we should be seeing a lot of from this picture on. And there is no Shirley Temple cuteness to Estell or stereotype in anybody.

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


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.