Steve Erickson has written 12 reviews for films rated ★½ .

  • I'm Poppy: The Film

    I'm Poppy: The Film

    ★½

    Her YouTube videos were much better (as is her current music, an eccentric but catchy mix of nu metal and pop), although Poppy's performance achieves a perfect blankness, like an AI device imitating an influencer but getting lost in a very uncanny valley. Maybe if this had turned into a TV series satirizing Illuminati conspiracy theories about the music industry, it would've showed promise. But knowing what we now do about its writer/director Titanic Sinclair and the way he abused…

  • Falling

    Falling

    ★½

    We have an early contender for my "Worst of 2021" list! For a film about Willis (Lance Henriksen), a MAGA grandpa with dementia, who spends 110 minutes shouting an endless loop of slurs and profanity, FALLING is devoid of any genuine vulgarity. If you can make a twee Sundance indie movie about such a character, this is it. It expects us to take his gay son John (Viggo Mortensen) seriously as a character without giving him any personality beyond a…

  • The Book of Henry

    The Book of Henry

    ★½

    THE BOOK OF HENRY could've been a fun pisstake on '80s Spielbergian suburbia. But it's weird without being at all eccentric. I'm sure Spielberg himself was self-aware enough to know that he was engaging in self-critique by producing GREMLINS. Colin Trevorrow isn't gifted with an iota of self-awareness. Henry isn't believable either as a genius or 11-year-old. The twist is mind-bogglingly dumb, as well as being sexist (a young boy knows so much better than an adult woman that she…

  • Murder Death Koreatown

    Murder Death Koreatown

    ★½

    I am not sure what a "real movie" means in 2020. But MURDER DEATH KOREATOWN doesn't play like one to me. It's more like a synthesis of a true crime podcast and YouTube arg {alternate reality game}. In and of itself, that doesn't bother me; I welcome a genuine challenge or innovation. The problem is, MURDER DEATH KOREATOWN exploits the genuine tragedy of Tae Kyung-Sung's murder, which is the starting point for its narrative, and uses people in dire circumstances…

  • Stardust

    Stardust

    ★½

    1)STARDUST is really limited by the fact that the Bowie estate wouldn't allow it to use his songs, but it doesn't bother using much music by anyone and the Jacques Brel covers Johnny Flynn performs as Bowie are lifeless and dull.

    2)More importantly, the film serves up a reductive view of Bowie's creativity. Its script uses mental illness as a gimmick, implying that Bowie's artistry was inspired by a mild form of the schizophrenia his brother Terry suffered and shortchanging his craft and talent. That's an insult to his memory.

    Full review here: www.nashvillescene.com/arts-culture/film/article/21144610/bowie-biopic-stardust-is-a-shallow-effort

  • The Trial of the Chicago 7

    The Trial of the Chicago 7

    ★½

    Repulsive, dull trash that pulps American rebellion into a costume drama as formulaic and staid as DOWNTON ABBEY. Aaron Sorkin's undeniable gift for snappy writing was best utilized on his TV show SPORTS NIGHT, but here he alternates between long scenes in the courtroom and glib cross-cutting. In theory, the cast was promising, especially Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman, but the script leaves them one-dimensional. The Black Panthers' contribution to the '60s counterculture gets sidelined. The rush of strings…

  • Antebellum

    Antebellum

    ★½

    The first third of ANTEBELLUM is absolutely dreadful, as though directors Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz read Jacques Rivette's essay on the tracking shot in KAPO and thought "we will do everything Rivette called morally objectionable." It gets slightly better afterwards - at least the pornographic fascination with Black pain fades - but the excess of style, bad pacing and sense that the movie's in love with its own twist (which isn't even particularly clever or original) remain. Is the…

  • We Summon the Darkness

    We Summon the Darkness

    ★½

    Unlike the many films about Satanist conspiracies and cabals which feed into the tropes behind the Satanic panic (and further deadly conspiracy theories like QAnon), WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS is accurate about right-wing Christians' projection of their own sins onto "the occult." Too bad the movie itself is such a bore. Alexandra Daddario carries it singlehandedly; the entire male cast is amateur hour. The plot is under-cooked, and the whole thing shows the seams of its low budget. (There are…

  • Jojo Rabbit

    Jojo Rabbit

    ★½

    When JOJO RABBIT opens in the US Friday, it will open the gates of hell, bringing forth 1)gushing praise from people taking it as face value as an "anti-hate satire" and 2)reactive hot takes from people who perceive it as this year's equivalent of THREE BILLBOARDS and GREEN BOOK. I hope this doesn't come across the latter, because it's not an outrage. It's a snooze. I want to make it clear that I have nothing against dark, politically incorrect comedy…

  • Luce

    Luce

    ★½

    Exhibit A in the defects of Trump-era American "political cinema." LUCE was built to illustrate J. C. Lee and Julius Onah's screenplay (based on Lee's play), which spends 90% of its time expressing its themes loudly in the dialogue. I'll grant that the characters' conversations aren't supposed to sound like real people talking. But Lee and Onah's work evokes Paul Haggis more than David Mamet's better moments, which seems to be their model. They reduce Naomi Watts' character to a…

  • Yesterday

    Yesterday

    ★½

    Take a sad song and run it through a machine of corporate blandness till the life is completely wrung out of it, then repeat it for 116 minutes.

  • Sauvage

    Sauvage

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Social worker cinema, far too convinced of the authenticity of the milieu it depicts to recognize how patronizing and secondhand it is. Sub-Dardennes shaky cam, check. Crushes on straight (or are they?) guys who won't reciprocate, check. Christian imagery deployed in a "subversive" gay context, check. Unerotic explicit sex and male nudity, check. But the most pornographic thing about it isn't that sex but the relish it takes in Leo's (Félix Maritaud) degradation, complete with loving close-ups of the enormous…