Steve Erickson

(Stephen Michael "Steve" Erickson)

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  • Born: April 20, 1950
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Novelist

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A modern fascination with the fantastic seems to come along every couple of generations, usually at a point when we're future saturated. Future
A street is a story in asphalt - so it's a paradox that the streets are the one place where the movies play fast and loose with continuity, something to which L.A. streets lend themselves as naturally as does the city's psyche. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Alejandro Jodorowsky is one of the supreme nut jobs in movie history, and of course I mean that in the nicest way. History
All of Wes Anderson's films are confections, memoirs created in cinematic snow globes, with the subtext that memory is the most extraordinary confection of all.
Americans disagree about America because the most common consensus as to what America is or has ever been or ever was meant to be eludes us, and it eludes us because we want it to.
Americans should be ashamed of how aflutter they get about Downton Abbey - it's unpatriotic. I seem to remember we fought a revolution so as not to put up with this nonsense, where notions of station are so unforgiving that upper and lower echelons are practically different species.
Among the gorges and ravines that hang on Los Angeles's shoulders like a necklace, Topanga - nestled in the cleavage of the Santa Monica Mountains - is the most singular of ornaments.
Among the mysteries of the creative ego is how the transcendence of what artists do is their own response to the darkness of who they are, and the same personal darkness that is at odds with the art is what propels artists to the light of what they create. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
As a genre, the noir of post-World War II was based on characters who were weak or repellent, bound to let down us and themselves. War & Peace
At the age that I was when I stopped reading comics, and with a set of talents that would seem to mark a future comic-book auteur, my son has had only a passing enthusiasm for the medium. Future
Beautiful actors are learning what beautiful actresses like Charlize Theron discovered a while ago - that they get taken more seriously when they trash the same beauty that got them taken seriously to begin with. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Beautiful women get in Hollywood's door quickest and then are shut out when their beauty no longer measures up to whatever it is that Hollywood or audiences decide is beautiful enough; once they're inside, their choices are limited by the same beauty that won them their entree. Women
Before movies, memory unspooled differently in the mind, trailing off in dust-blasted fade-out rather than spliced-together flashback; before photography, memory rippled like a reflection on water's surface, less precise but more profoundly true. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Being the family's literate one, my wife doesn't watch television much, preferring third-world novels, though she'll sit in now and then when I have on Jon Stewart. Families, Children & Parenting
Besides inquiries as to our general well-being, the first thing asked about us, in our first seconds of being alive, is whether we're a boy or girl. Our first passport through this world is our genitals.
Born in the silent era, with the first ceremony hosted by Douglas Fairbanks at the Roosevelt Hotel, the Oscars are a tradition in a business that doesn't have much of it, and the biggest spectacle in a business that's often nothing but. Business, Commerce & Finance
By the nature of cinema and how it literalizes what we envision, movies can have difficulty replicating that connection we make with a classic book. Nature ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Can anything be less cool than defending the motion picture academy?
Condemning art as manipulative is a non sequitur, of course. All art is manipulative. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Created by writer Beau Willimon, who's worked on several political campaigns, 'House of Cards' cannily exploits the current widespread cynicism for our politics, catering to a public scorn that's warranted and also glib in the sort of cheap pox-on-both-houses way that means not having to pay attention. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
David Cronenberg's 'Maps to the Stars' is a Hollywood monster movie in which Hollywood is the monster.
'Downton Abbey' is a pageant, a cavalcade of a time when being born right is the first and most irrevocable career move, and in which an older order - whose passing 'Downton's' creator, Julian Fellowes, clearly mourns - is submerging in icy seas as surely as a grand and extravagant ocean liner. Time
Drawing the desperate and the adrift, Los Angeles has long been the dumping ground of dreams both real and cinematic.
Escapism always has its place, but when movies connect to other things around us and suggest implications that haven't been considered before, that's a dividend, too, even when our love of movies becomes complicated as a result. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Even if you haven't seen 'The Seventh Seal,' you've seen it. The influence is so vast and insidious, every image of a black-robed, white-faced Death is a rip or parody of 'The Seventh Seal.' Death
Even to current-events junkies, the notion of a 24-hour news channel sounded like a gimmick when the Cable News Network launched more than 30 years ago.
Every thought and word that a novelist thinks or writes is part of that castle constructed from sands on the beach of Me, including the turret or rampart or moat he may have thought or written on behalf of someone or something else.
For a writer, the Book Festival is interesting because you bump into all these other writers whose work you know, whose names you know, and you have a chance to put a person with the name and the work. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
For half a century, the Sunset Strip was the asphalt timeline of American popular music. My most distinct memory, from more years ago than I'll confess to, is waiting for a table at the Olde World, which occupied a wedge of territory at Sunset and Holloway Drive, where the daiquiris became more vicious the longer you sat in the sun. Music, Chants & Rapps
For thousands of years, we've insisted that art can make us better people. Unless a brief can be fashioned that, by its very nature, art appeals only to the best in people and never the darkness, which defies both logic and intuition, then we have to acknowledge that art can make some of us worse. Nature ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
'Homeland' is necessarily open-ended since the idea behind television is to spend as much time as possible resolving as little as possible, with a story's usual need for resolution replaced by an unrelenting urgency that always defers answers and constantly postpones closure. Time
'Homeland' was a sensation out of the gate in 2011, gathering acclaim and sweeping up Emmys, and the reason such shows are so overrated is because, unlike with other forms of popular art, success in TV is measured almost purely by how obsessive we become. Success ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Hopefully it doesn't come as too much of a shock that artists we love watching or listening to for an hour or two aren't always people with whom we otherwise would want to spend 20 minutes. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I don't know for a fact, but I feel fairly certain that the first person who described a movie as 'character driven' had to have been a producer or studio executive.
I don't know how many modern families watch 'Modern Family,' but then one of the points of 'Modern Family' is that it's hard to tell what a modern family is anymore, let alone what it does. Families, Children & Parenting
I own one movie by fellow Swede Ingmar Bergman, because I have to. You can't be a movie critic with a collection of six or seven hundred DVDs that includes everything from 'Tokyo Story' to 'Poison Ivy: The New Seduction' and not have a Bergman movie.
I rode the buses in L.A. until I was in my early 30s, and there's something about driving or riding through L.A. after sundown, when the Utopian city goes into hiding and another city comes out, more Doors and less Byrds.
I think we can fairly conclude that writer-director Joss Whedon didn't make 'The Avengers' for me.
If 'Fargo' is about anything, it's American madness.
If Lincoln is among history's truly great men, he didn't achieve that stature until his final three years. This was when his long-held antipathy to slavery cohered into a dedicated hostility that gave larger purpose to the Civil War and also confirmed the logic of Lincoln's destiny. History ;War & Peace
If Marxist theory dictates that the personal is always political, the rebuttal of both 'The Americans' and 'House of Cards' is that the political is always personal: the sum total of our collective needs and desires, vows and betrayals.
I'm not sure there's a difference between books that affected the way I see the world and books that influenced me as a writer.
In 1957's 'There's No You,' Sinatra is suspended at the intersection of a loss he can't face and a memory he can't relinquish.
In a way, all Scandinavian movies are descendants of the original Scandinavian Christian-metaphor movie, Danish director Carl Dreyer's 1928 'The Passion of Joan of Arc,' one of the seven or eight best films ever made and impossible to watch more than once. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
In journalism, as in politics, other people's lives are a currency to be bartered on behalf of notoriety and influence. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
In retrospect, 'Pulp Fiction' isn't just the template for everything Tarantino has done but the yardstick by which everything else he does is measured one way or another.
In the culture at large, the war over science fiction's creative validity has been long since won, but guardians at the gates of literature, movies, and TV linger unconvinced, even as other genres fitfully transcend critical perceptions of insubstantiality. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology ;War & Peace ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
In their matching candy-stripe shirts, the Beach Boys were America's biggest band of the early '60s, transmitting utopian bulletins of summer without end to a cold and overcast nation.
Inevitably, considerations of God in what otherwise intend to be mass entertainments come down to the same thing they come down to in any context, which is a consideration of humanity. Religion & God
Inside every TV star is a movie star screaming to get out, and Donna Frenzel, with whom I'm guessing you're not instantly familiar, made George Clooney a movie star once and for all in the first ten minutes of his fifth feature, 1998's 'Out of Sight.'
Ironically, if only because over the years I've known so many - from college deans to studio executives to European expats - who come to Los Angeles aspiring to nothing other than living in Topanga, I wound up there by accident.
Italian writer-director Paolo Sorrentino makes zombie movies, which probably comes as a surprise to him. At the center of his best and most recent pictures are the walking dead, characters in a race with themselves across mortality's finish line, their spirits arriving before the rest of them. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
It's not always clear whether the filmmaker intends our alienation or is even aware of it.
I've decided 'Breaking Bad' may be one of the best TV shows ever, but I had to watch every last episode of the first four seasons to come to that conclusion.
Julianne Moore and Michael Keaton began in 1980s soap operas and 1970s sitcoms, respectively, such ancient history by show business standards that you need carbon dating to measure their careers. History ;Business, Commerce & Finance
L.A. streets aren't just paved real estate but a cosmology, a manifestation of the city's sensibility.
Like all paradises, Topanga is pitched at the tipping point of promise and peril.
'Lincoln' is impressive enough to almost make you forget how much Daniel Day-Lewis dominates the endeavor.
Memory runs by its own itinerary, departing and arriving at stations of the past on its own schedule.
Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts act themselves senseless in 'August: Osage County,' and by the time they're finished, they've acted their movie senseless, too. Time
Movie directors who have filmed F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby' believe it's a big book looming inside a small one, and they aren't altogether wrong.
Moviemaking is a time machine: narrative spliced into fragments and reassembled into a constant present, the end of a story shot before the beginning, which is shot after the middle. Time
Nothing is more linear than a street; nothing has a more fixed beginning, middle, and end.
Nothing manifests more persuasively the American contradiction than that the author of the Declaration of Independence, a slave owner, wrote an antislavery clause into the document - as if to compel himself to be better than he was - which then had to be edited out so the Southern states, including Thomas Jefferson's own, would sign it.
Notwithstanding the likes of 'All the President's Men' in the 1970s or HBO's recent 'The Newsroom,' film and TV have always loved to hate the press.
Often a performance can be judged not by a movie's strongest moment but by its weakest, especially when it's the picture's crucial scene.
Pablo Picasso, Frank Sinatra, Ernest Hemingway, Mel Gibson, Lou Reed, Norman Mailer, Vanessa Redgrave, Van Morrison - each is distinguished by controversies unrelated to his or her art; by many accounts, some of them are not nice people at all. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Part of the process of reading is constantly hitting the pause button, and now and then the rewind button, to ponder a word that's been chosen by the author as exquisitely as the filmmaker chooses an image or a sound editor chooses a sonic clue - the tolling of a bell in the distance to evoke memory, for instance.
Quentin Tarantino is my 15-year-old son's favorite director, and by that I mean no condescension to either Tarantino or my 15-year-old son.
Redford always has been a cool presence both before and behind the camera. His best movie as a filmmaker, 1994's 'Quiz Show,' exhibits a classicism verging on self-repression, and the social indignation in many of his films engages more than moves you.
Representing not just the resurrection of a career, 1953 marked 37-year-old Frank Sinatra's creative emergence as the best singer of his century.
Scarlett Johansson has a smile she tries to suppress in every movie she makes. She's been trying to keep a straight face since she appeared with Bill Murray 11 years ago in her breakthrough, 'Lost in Translation.'
Slavery was the betrayal of the American Promise at the moment that promise was made.
Some distant day, anthropologists will consider as a landmark in humankind's evolution - comparable to the capacity for destroying ourselves by nuclear obliteration - the adolescent gene's newly emergent power to dictate nightly TV viewing. Power
Struggling to end the war and to eliminate slavery once and for all by way of the 13th Amendment, with the amendment's prospective passage undermining the effort to make peace with the Confederacy and vice versa, Lincoln embodied the Great Man theory that leftists disdain. War & Peace
Taking place in some Nordic-looking hinterland where all the seasons are out of whack, 'Game of Thrones' is the most aggressive example since 'Battlestar Galactica' of a genre that's perceived as adolescent aspiring to be fully adult.
That godfather of the modern action blockbuster, 'The Godfather,' is entirely character driven, propelled by the transformation of a crime lord's youngest son, who breaks bad when he evolves from white-sheep war hero to blood-soaked inheritor of his father's empire. War & Peace
The 1988 biopic of bebop immortal Charlie Parker, 'Bird,' was the film that opened my eyes to Clint Eastwood's potential as a filmmaker.
The '80s convergence of comics' new adult sensibility with the movies' advancing technology was bound to catch the attention of even slow-on-the-uptake Hollywood, and this particularly was true when 'Watchmen' and 'The Dark Knight Returns' became phenomena. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
The beautifully composed imagery of '12 Years a Slave' underscores the savagery of its subject, which is an American South not of knights and ladies but obscene values and a grotesque pageantry, every gorgeous shot of the languid landscape radiating toxicity like a hyperlush blossom that's poison to the touch.
'The Company You Keep' is about outgrowing not just the delusions that accompany youth but the harsh certainties driving our lives and then trapping them before the years outpace the velocity of our dreams.
The Doors formed on the beaches of Los Angeles, in what you might imagine is the tradition of local rock bands since the Beach Boys.
The first books I remember having an impact on me when I was a kid were L. Frank Baum's 'Oz' books, which were much stranger than the movie: at once rather whimsical and really dark.
The instant that movies became described as character driven was the instant when characters stopped mattering in movies. In other words, the birth of the notion of the character-driven movie coincided with the birth of movies in which characters were incidental to the very activities in which they engaged. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
The most telling thing about 'Fargo,' both the now-classic movie and the television series, is that it doesn't take place in Fargo.
The notion of artistic responsibility begs questions with no satisfactory conclusions, the most inevitable and ineffectual being that we should just keep thinking and talking about it, given that the alternative - a governmental body monitoring the movies we make and see - is unacceptable. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
The ritual of families watching TV together passed into antiquity around the time I was my son's age; that was when households tended to have a single television and when the choices of what to watch were manageable. Time
The witch-hunting McCarthy era found Hollywood's view of the press growing bleaker along with the decade's view of everything else.
There's no rule that we have to like the characters movies are about. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
To an extent, our relationship with the movies is always subjective. Our capacity to be involved says as much about each of us; I've never fathomed why anyone would want to spend four hours in the company of the exceedingly tiresome Scarlett O'Hara. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Two subsequent incidents of import established CNN: the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986, which CNN was the only network to cover as it happened, and the 1991 Gulf War, which CNN chronicled round the clock from a proximity as irresistible as it was alarming, bomb blasts and gunfire lighting up TV screens from coast to coast. War & Peace
Walt Disney had a nuclear imagination before the advent of nuclear, some comprehension of apocalypse and rapture deep in his genes.
Walter Cronkite was the last newsman everyone trusted in the same way that the Beatles were the last music everyone loved and Marilyn was the last star everyone concurred was worthy of the word. Music, Chants & Rapps
What we call 'the news' always has tried to tell a story, and it's always told the story it wanted or, put most positively, whatever story it believed needed telling.
When people start yammering about artistic responsibility, artists become wary. The subtext of such talk is that the arts need to be regulated, which is to say censored.
When television captured the popular imagination of the 1950s, a rash of movies satirized Hollywood while also mythologizing it. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
When the Doors became huge, what nascent rock intelligentsia existed at the time adored them. Time
White Americans believe we've made more progress since the end of slavery in 1865 than do black Americans for whom '12 Years a Slave' documents a collective memory, passed down in the genes and by the lore of generations.
Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Donald Margulies and directed by Sundance nominee James Ponsoldt, 'The End of the Tour' is a terrific film, among the year's best with its two-man tarantella of wall-to-wall talk - and I watched it through my fingers as though it were Mad Max.
You can't blame movies for embracing spectacle; filmmakers since D.W. Griffith and Cecil B. De Mille have loved spectacle, and spectacle is something that movies convey like no other medium, especially in a digital age. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle