Steve Erickson has written 156 reviews for films rated ★★★★ .

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • We're All Going to the World's Fair

    We're All Going to the World's Fair

    ★★★★

    When analyzing a horror movie, it's helpful to ask who the monster is and what it threatens. WE'RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD'S FAIR could only have been made by a director whose formative experiences as a teenager mostly took place online. Where Olivier Assayas, Charlie Brooker or even Kiyoshi Kurosawa have located the monstrous in the Internet's potential to enhance humanity's worst qualities, Jane Schoenbrun is much more optimistic. For one thing, the loneliness and isolation shown in WE'RE…

  • The Deer

    The Deer

    ★★★★

    An Iranian film unlike anything else I've seen from the country, bridging the gap between socially conscious neo-realism and gritty B-movie noir. The stink of despair and disenchantment, deriving both from the pressure of poverty and wounded masculinity, hovers over it. (The fact that even the best version currently available was taken from a scratched print aids that atmosphere; the film itself looks as wounded by life as its characters.) Behrouz Vossoughi's performance is deservedly acclaimed. His character seems worn down by something far beyond his heroin addiction.

    Full review coming on Screen Slate later this month.

  • Occult

    Occult

    ★★★★

    A found footage mockumentary in which both director Koji Shiraishi and Kiyoshi Kurosawa play themselves, OCCULT makes the best of its cheap, frankly ugly videography (with sparing special effects.) The world it shows has been bleached of hope, and more than a horror film it plays like a character study of a man who finds life so empty that he yearns desperately for something better in the afterlife. But be careful which gods you follow! As the troubled Eno, Mika Azuna gives a chilling performance. The coda is gutsy, but it doesn't really make the landing. {SPOILER} is more silly than terrifying.

  • A Special Day

    A Special Day

    ★★★★

    Fascism viewed as noise pollution. The blocked desire of a heterosexual woman for a gay man, even though they do have sex, as a sign of the alienation and misery caused by traditional gender roles. Sepia not as the image of nostalgia, but a kind of dreary fascist realism akin to the grayness with which the USSR has been depicted.

  • Loose Corner

    Loose Corner

    ★★★★

    Standing in for the entire Anita Thatcher shorts program presented tonight by Screen Slate and Prismatic Ground, LOOSE CORNER is a delightful trompe d'oeil. Director Anita Thatcher playfully created an illusory space, apparently cutting together sets and miniatures. While the effect is convincing, the seams special effects tries to hide are left open.

  • Night Shot

    Night Shot

    ★★★★

    With NIGHT SHOT, Carolina Mososco dives head-first into a number of taboos, especially the idea that a rape survivor should treat their experience as a shameful, private event. But her personal documentary is also equally concerned with finding a language adequate to living with sexual assault. At first, the aesthetic of NIGHT SHOT is bare-bones. Until about an hour in, none of the images she shot allude to rape, but her experience of the violation itself and her dreadful attempts…

  • Smooth Talk

    Smooth Talk

    ★★★★

    An intervention in the '80s teen movie, with the predatory male behavior foregrounded instead of being made to look funny. (Seriously, NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST., made the same year, exists in the same world of useless adults who can't help teenagers' overpowering and justified fear.) Connie (Laura Dern) doesn't get along with her mom, and even when she takes refuge at her beloved mall, she's surrounded by creepy boys. At the time of SMOOTH TALK's original release, B. Ruby Rich…

  • Black Mirror: San Junipero

    Black Mirror: San Junipero

    ★★★★

    To say the obvious: beautiful queer love story, transhumanist vision of a post-religious afterlife and BLACK MIRROR's most optimistic episode, imagining technology as a force that expands the human race's possibilities in a way that can at least be extremely positive for this couple. It also comes across as a commentary on retromania and the postmodern tendency to curate knicknacks and pieces of culture from the past as though you could borrow inside and live in your fantasy version of…

  • We All Loved Each Other So Much

    We All Loved Each Other So Much

    ★★★★

    Until today, I had never seen an Ettore Scola film, assuming they were precursors to the kind of middelbrow European films Miramax released in the '90s. Well, I was off-base. WE ALL LOVED EACH OTHER SO MUCH is exhilarating until it isn't. It actually flirts with Oscar-bait "magic of cinema" tropes - I wonder if Nicola's (Steffano Sotta Flores) reenactment of BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN's Odessa steps scene gave Brian De Palma some ideas - but winds up making cinephilia, including its…