Steve Erickson has written 118 reviews for films during 2021.

  • Monkey Shines

    Monkey Shines

    ★★½

    Capuchin monkey Boo, portraying the murderous Ella, is a much better actor than the humans cast in MONKEY SHINES. Knowing Romero's post-humanist attitude, this is likely deliberate, but imagine how much better this would be with Jeffrey Combs, rather than Jason Beghe, telling Ella "You're slime, you're filth...I'm gonna tear you open and chew out your fucking head." Probably the weakest Romero film I've seen - it had the potential to be his BIGGER THAN LIFE, but it fades out into silliness instead of exploring the concept of the man/monkey mind-melt allowing the man to live out his worst impulses with any passion or believability.

  • Torso

    Torso

    ★★★★

    TORSO hates its own libido, but can't change. Seriously, the cut from a leering shot of a woman baring her breasts (less than a minute after the film has begun!) to a lecture about the aesthetics of an Italian painter's depiction of violent martyrdom suggests that it's well aware of its own sleaziness. Like many giallos, TORSO is a contradictory, bummed-out response to '60s ideas of sexual liberation, leading towards the punitive morality of the slasher movie and the trope…

  • Profile

    Profile

    Why tell American critics reviewing a film which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2018 and was then covered by indieWIRE, Variety and the Hollywood Reporter that our opinions are embargoed till the evening of the 11th, three days before it finally gets released in the U.S.? Opinion coming next week, followed by full review.

  • Paris Calligrammes

    Paris Calligrammes

    ★★★½

    Lesbian director Ulrike Ottinger’s body of work can be readily divided into two parts. She began making extravagantly campy and experimental films like “Freak Orlando” and “Ticket of No Return” when the New German Cinema movement was in full swing. While they look and feel much different from the work of male colleagues like Hans-Jürgen Syberberg and Werner Schroeter, they draw on a similar well of inspiration from opera and avant-garde theater. In the ‘80s, she developed an interest in…

  • Home of the Brave

    Home of the Brave

    ★★★

    Odd "weekend afternoon lying in bed in an altered state" viewing, but not exactly in the way I expected. Her STOP MAKING SENSE, but far more '80s. Great double bill with Kate Bush's THE TOUR OF LIFE, programmers!

  • Experiment in Terror

    Experiment in Terror

    ★★★½

    Incredible cinematography and direction - even on a laptop, the variations on black and white textures and the depths of shadow created are breathtaking. Blake Edwards was also capable of suggesting so much with a simple close-up or medium shot. But the film is attracted to a perversity it also constantly draws back from. Some of this stems from having been made under the thumb of the Hays Code - and I don't really want to see the '70s version…

  • The Boom

    The Boom

    ★★★½

    With IL BOOM, director Vittorio De Sica and screenwriter Cesare Zavattini reworked the same basic concerns of their neo-realist films in an Italy that had moved on to an aspirational consumerism. (A key scene is set in a shop selling bidets; by the early '60s, Italy was keeping its shit just out of sight.) Like much of the commedia all'italiana genre, this film's rather grim. In fact, its grip on black comedy slips in the second half, when it stops…

  • Limbo

    Limbo

    ★★★½

    The first hour of LIMBO comes close to overdoing the Wes Anderson-style symmetrical blocking and framing, as well as the jokes based on pop culture references. (FRIENDS is a universal language, apparently!) But in an interview with RogerEbert.com, director Ben Sharrock cited Palestinian director Elia Suleiman as an influence, and it's apparent in his direction of the lead actor, Amir El-Masry. El-Masry, playing a Syrian musician stuck in a refugee asylum on a bleak Scottish island, keeps a stone face.…

  • Uptight

    Uptight

    ★★★★

    "Uptight’s is a land of imagination charged with some of the most pressing issues of its (and our) time—aesthetically, dramatically, and veristically muddled, yes, and all the more piercing for it."--Andrew Tracy

  • The Witch Who Came from the Sea

    The Witch Who Came from the Sea

    ★★★★

    Grim, unpleasant and ugly-looking - full of crude edits between Molly's (Millie Perkins) violent fantasies and dreary reality - in a very '70s way. Written and directed by men, THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA sympathizes with female victims of sexual abuse while also expressing a very male fear that they'll turn to murder as a result. (It contains one shot of an adult man on top of a child he's molesting that would never fly in 2021,) Perkins…

  • Love the One You're With

    Love the One You're With

    Putting your student films on Amazon Prime for rental and even purchase isn't the greatest idea. (And no, this isn't a literal student film, but it suffers the clunkiest edits, most blown-out lighting and bad sound mixing I've seen and heard in a "professional" release in years.) But at least money could've fixed most of the technical problems. The script is just as bad.

  • Ride or Die

    Ride or Die

    ★★★½

    “Ride or Die” is a story of roads. Its first third repeats the image of two women driving through a garishly lit cityscape. These shots resemble the highly stylized photography of street scenes which can be found all over Instagram. They make no bones about the degree to which they’re distorted, with color and lighting altered in post-production for effect. When the couple’s in a more peaceful place, they can drive through more inviting surroundings. The sun’s shining, the road…