When the late, great website The Dissolve ended operations, it’s commenting community had The Solute to call home, but the staff and writers of The Dissolve have been scattered to the winds of the Internet. With Dissolve On, we collect some of the essential film writing being done by these essential film writers. Because there’s always a Dissolver writing something notable about the movies somewhere on the Internet.
These folks are talented and prolific, so if we missed a piece, share it with us in the comments!
Dissolvers On Film:
Tasha Robinson on Irrational Man for The Verge:
“Maybe people are so willing to read latter-day Woody Allen movies as backhanded personal reflections on his life because it’s so hard to know how to read them otherwise. Films like Whatever Works, Magic In The Moonlight, and From Rome With Love are arch but not particularly funny, and straight-faced but not particularly serious. They’re packed with philosophical quotations, references, and blather, but seem to lack an actual philosophy … That mixture of self-importance and self-dismissing fluff is particularly pronounced in Allen’s latest film…”
Scott Tobias on “The 10 Best Boxing-Movie Fights” for Rolling Stone:
“Jake La Motta vs. Sugar Ray Robinson, ‘Raging Bull’ (1980)
[Scorsese] turns La Motta’s performance into a gruesome nightmare of popping flashbulbs, savage headshots, and blood dripping from saturated rope; the whole thing epitomizes the yen for self-destruction that’s ruined his life. That taunt after the closing bell — “You never got me down, Ray” — is both petty and tragic … Each fight in Raging Bull has its own texture, but this one is Scorsese at the top of his game, turning the sport into an expression of La Motta’s tortured psyche.”
Keith Phipps on John Sayle’s Baby It’s You for Oscilloscope Laboratories’ Musings blog:
“A different sort of movie would end the story here, at this moment of reunion, holding on an improbable moment that suggests all involved will live happily ever after. Baby It’s You gets there with more than an hour to go, and even this brief flash of happiness doesn’t last long. The film’s real final scene, which arrives after the characters have drifted in and out of each other’s life, defines bittersweet.”
Matt Singer on Pixels for Screencrush:
“Sandler’s stardom was built on his ability to summon boiling volcanoes of comedic rage, but these days he only seems to play one-dimensional schlubs incapable of registering any emotion beyond gloomy exhaustion. The list of incredible activities Sandler shrugs his way through in Pixels includes hanging out in the Oval Office, chasing giant video game centipedes through the streets of London, and becoming one of the most famous people in the world. Through it all, Sandler remains utterly impassive…”
Kate Erbland both voted in and wrote about #20 Goodfellas for the BBC’s 100 greatest American Films list:
“The American Dream – its possibilities, its foibles, its complications – has long proven to be fodder for the big screen, but Goodfellas approaches what can often be a trite and tired topic with the kind of zeal and ingenuity that sets it apart from the rest of the red, white and blue pack. An anti-hero story wrapped in good humour, searingly specific details and unforgettable characters, Goodfellas is good enough and entertaining enough – the film zips along at an admirably snappy pace and just may be Martin Scorsese’s tightest film – to nearly convince its audience that crime really does pay.”
Rachel Handler interviews Judd Apatow for Vox:
“RH: What do you think it is about Amy that’s so resonant at this particular cultural moment?
JA: I keep thinking that she’s a little bit of a George Carlin–type character. I think there’s a lot of things that women should be very upset about, and it’s great to have a raucously hysterical person to say, “This is bullshit.” Unlike other people, there’s no bitterness in it. She never loses her sense of humor. The comedy always comes first, but she’s making points that really need to be made. It’s hard to do great comedy about rape culture, but someone should do it. It takes a genius to engage people to say, “Isn’t this crazy that we don’t care more about this?” … We only had one George Carlin, but in addition, she’s doing things that George Carlin didn’t do. She wrote an incredibly vulnerable, honest movie about relationships and family that’s also super funny.”
David Ehrlich is contributing to the ongoing, chronological “100 Great Movies By Female Directors” list for Little White Lies:
“3. The Adventures of Prince Achmed (Lotte Reiniger, 1926)
It’s a common misconception that The Adventures of Prince Achmed is the first animated feature film, when in fact it’s simply the oldest one that survives. It’s easy enough to forgive the mistake, given that there were only a couple of examples that predated Lotte Reiniger and Carl Koch’s colourful riff on ‘One Thousand and One Nights’. On the other hand, how could anyone ever believe that a film so exquisitely expressive could be the first of its kind, even if that understanding is so close to the actual truth?”
Dissolvers On Other Media:
Noel Murray on reading comics on a phone and what can be learned by seeing/reading things in a different way for AV Club:
“(S)ometimes changing the frame for a piece of art can change the way we look at it. I’ve sat in film classes and seminars where the professors or moderators pushed students to pay attention to sound design by switching the soundtracks for two movies; or where they’ve cut the volume entirely to get us to notice the visual storytelling. Sometimes when I fast-forward to a favorite scene in a movie I’ve watched a bunch, I spot camera moves that had never really registered before, because I’d been too distracted by the dialogue or performances.
More to the point, it seems like artists have begun considering digital platforms when they design a page…”
Charles Bramesco on the “fearless pessimism” of BoJack Horseman for Random Nerds:
“BoJack Horseman is a network executive’s nightmare. Adult animation that doesn’t actively market itself as the next Simpsons is a hard sell to begin with, and so is showbiz satire. It only gets worse when the lead character happens to be a horrible person. By the time whatever beautiful crazy bastard made the pitch got to the part where none of the characters are allowed to be happy, it’s a minor miracle the collected executives hadn’t called security…
Not to engage in hyperbole, but this hilarious cartoon about a talking horse might be the most important, meaningful entertainment to emerge from the current pop-cultural landscape.”
The busy Nathan Rabin on the good things that come from falling down for his Mom.Me blog:
“I know as a father that there are so many limits to what I can do to keep my son from falling down. I cannot keep him inside a protective plastic bubble. And, although I sometimes daydream about doing so, I can’t put mattresses down on every square inch of our condo … Watching Declan’s attempts at walking remind me that pain and failure are inevitable and essential parts of life, and that they are in no small part what make success and happiness meaningful. And I should know as well as anyone that it is our scars that in many ways define us and tell us who we are, where we’ve been, and what we’ve survived.”