Steve Erickson has written 244 reviews for films rated ★★★½ .

  • The Mitchells vs. The Machines

    The Mitchells vs. The Machines

    ★★★½

    #releasetheaccelerationistcut

  • Taming the Garden

    Taming the Garden

    ★★★½

    TAMING THE GARDEN is beautiful in a bitingly ironic manner. In Variety, Jessica Kiang likened it to both LEVIATHAN (the documentary) & FITZCARRALDO, and I can see why. But former Georgian prime minister Bidizina Ivanishvili's quest to move huge trees from the coast of his country to his private garden is not quixotic or unachievable. We never see or hear Ivanishvili, so he's never granted the charisma of a villain or anti-hero. Director Salomé Jashi frames her film so that it…

  • 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…

  • 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.…

  • 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…

  • Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records

    Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records

    ★★★½

    As filmmaking, this is a basic and uninspired loop of talking heads (although at least all of them have a connection to Wax Trax; director Julia Nash did not film random celebrities enthusing about Ministry and Front 242.) But it tells a compelling story I did not know before. I wound up watching INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT at the end of a day where I saw a Laibach concert on YouTube and listened to KMFDM's debut album for the first time, so…

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark

    Raiders of the Lost Ark

    ★★★½

    I'm writing an essay on RAIDERS for the Quietus on the occasion of its 40th anniversary. Watching it for the first time since the '90s brought mixed feelings. Even when I saw it as a teen, the scene where Indy shoots the Arab man with the sword for a laugh seemed pretty messed-up, and that colonial arrogance, as well as a sexist attitude towards the supposedly "strong woman" Marion (Karen Allen), is all over the film. But the last half…

  • Gheisar

    Gheisar

    ★★★½

    The political subtext of director Masoud Kimiai's THE DEER is much more understated in this tale of the title character's (Behroz Vossoughi, who would go on to star in THE DEER too) revenge of the men who raped his sister, leading her to take her own life. It's a brooding, macho B-movie of its time, pulpy in a way that I've rarely seen in Iranian cinema but which feels close to Donald Siegel or Sam Fuller. Kimiai pays homage to…

  • Violation

    Violation

    ★★★½

    Committed to unpleasantness and denying the rewards of genre entertainment as a political act while removing any catharsis from violence, this actually deserves the hype PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN is receiving. It's a far grimmer riff on the rape-revenge/vigilante narrative (it also riffs on "cabin in the woods" tropes), willing to show its protagonist Miriam (co-director/co-writer Madeleine Sims-Fewer) continuing the abuse of power she's suffered from rather than dreaming up an elaborate revenge plot whose messiness somehow stops short of real…

  • The Half of It

    The Half of It

    ★★★½

    File under the "far better than it needed to be for a Netflix movie" dept. Alice Wu's direction is sensitive in its blocking and framing, and the subplot involving Ellie's (Leah Lewish) tender relationship with her immigrant dad (Collin Chou) is brilliantly observed and acted. (Having a Chinese immigrant try to learn English - essentially, learn how to act like an American - by watching old Hollywood movies like THE PHILADELPHIA STORY was a great touch.) But the final third…