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 (and other stuff) somewhere on the Internet.
These folks are talented and prolific, so please share the pieces we missed in the comments!
Keith Phipps on less than historically accurate biopics for Vulture:
“Ray Charles and Johnny Cash became legends for good reason, and the history of 20th-century music wouldn’t look the same without them. But lives are messy, and movies cut corners to heighten some drama while diminishing other instances that keep their protagonists from playing the heroes. Even those that more or less stick to the facts have to compress and condense for the sake of storytelling … There’s a fine line between embellishment and outright fiction, however. Most biopics tread it. Some cross it. Some pretend it doesn’t exist at all. Below are seven across the last 70 years that took the truth to the limit — and sometimes further than that.”
Noel Murray on Wes Craven’s The People Under The Stairs for AV Club:
“In retrospect, it should’ve been more obvious what Craven was up to here. The flickering green footage from the first Gulf War on the Robesons’ TV—coupled with the depiction of them as a wealth-hoarding perversion of the typical upstanding suburban couple—marks the movie as a satire. And if the imagery isn’t a tip-off, Robie and McGill’s scenery-gobbling performances are plenty glaring. While Adams appears to be the hero of a kids’ adventure, and Langer’s aptly named Alice is living through a harrowingly surreal psychological thriller, Mommy and Daddy are playing out the kind of cartoonish parody of conservatism more common in the previous decade, when genre filmmakers puckishly subverted the Reagan-era value system.”
Rachel Handler interviews The Diary of a Teenage Girl director Marielle Heller for Cosmopolitan:
“Heller, a trained actress, fell in love with (cartoonist Phoebe) Gloeckner’s unflinchingly honest portrait of burgeoning female sexuality back in 2007, and though she hadn’t a screenplay or directing credit to her name, begged the cartoonist to adapt it for the stage and, eventually, the screen. Diary premiered at this year’s Sundance to critical acclaim, both for Heller’s fearless, empathetic writing and direction, and Powley’s luminous performance as a young woman experiencing a messy, unorthodox but ultimately empowering sexual awakening (you know, like men in film have for decades).
RH: Do you remember the first time you really identified as a feminist?
MH: I remember the first time somebody classified me as a feminist. I was in fourth grade. And I remember thinking, Oh, is that what I am? At the time, I just cared about equality. I’m a Libra, and traditionally Libras are all about fairness. If something feels unfair, it hurts my heart. The definition of feminism is wanting equality, wanting women to get the same opportunities that men get. People who are afraid of feminism have redefined it as men-hating or some other bullshit, which just isn’t true. I was never one of those people who shied away from that classification. I wear it proudly.”
Kate Erbland interviews Rosemarie Dewitt for Indiewire:
“KB: There’s been a groundswell in the industry lately to shine more of a light on the inequality between men and women, is that something you’ve been noticing?
RD: That’s such a hard question to answer. I don’t actually think I’m treated unfairly or anything. If anything, I sometimes can’t understand why I don’t see myself and the people I know represented more in films. Unless I’m going to go out and write them myself, I don’t feel like I can really complain about it. But I do long to see certain kinds (of projects) — like, I’m very excited to see “Carol.” I’m very excited to see Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett and Sarah Paulson in a movie….I’m blown away by people who write, direct, star in, produce their own material. And it is kind of a rallying cry to everybody, if you want to tell stories, just go and tell them.”
Charles Bramesco on Christian Petzold’s Phoenix and the difference between Holocaust Films and films about the Holocaust for Movie Mezzanine:
“Holocaust films generally invite viewers to gape in horror at the depths of man’s inhumanity to man and find inspiration in the perseverance of the spirit during times of unimaginable tribulation. These are no minor accomplishments, mind you; it’s just that they’ve been done…
(Phoenix) takes place in war-torn Germany shortly after the Holocaust, when the harried survivors were staggering home and attempting to reclaim some sense of normalcy while their shattered nation began to piece itself back together. The bullets have stopped flying, though war-hardened street toughs still lurk behind the mountains of rubble strewn across Berlin. The specter of the Holocaust looms large over each frame of the film, the unseen horrors informing dynamics between characters, volumes of script communicated in what’s left unsaid. In turning its focus to the process of recovery after the tragedies had played out, Phoenix addresses a whole new set of ideas for the Holocaust subgenre, and unearths difficult truths about the methods through which nations and their citizens move forward.”
NOTE – Werewolves Versus The 1990’s is available as a name-your-own-price download and I’m not sure what the ethics of excerpting it here would be, so if you were interested in reading this, you should just go and get a copy for yourself…Craig attempts to review the film purely from his own recollections of two viewings, with no assist from online resources.
Scott Tobias on Ann LeSchander’s The Park Bench for Variety:
“Say this much for “The Park Bench”: It delivers on its title. Viewers get all the bench they can handle in writer-director Ann LeSchander’s exceedingly modest two-hander…
Confining the action to one location has obvious practical benefits for a low-budget production like “The Park Bench,” but situating would-be lovers against a verdant backdrop is a good shortcut to intimacy, too. What’s missing from LeSchander’s script, beyond a more literate snap to the dialogue, are the details that might push Emily and Mateo past type…Given the Off Off Broadway simplicity of the staging, there’s not much room for tech elements to stand out. Gareth Taylor’s cinematography holds simple two-shots in natural light, with the occasional pan down from the canopy of trees above, and the score, by Dan Raziel, carries the familiar indie pluck of acoustic guitar and xylophone. The lone standout is Natia Nikolashvili’s animated interludes, which are bright and hand-drawn, and a welcome break from the mundane conversation.”
Nathan Rabin was the subject of a human interest story by Chris Serico for The Today Show:
“Rabin told TODAY.com he hopes readers don’t limit definitions of worth and success to money and status. “[In my essay], I wanted to articulate the reasons why I don’t think living in a basement is anything to be ashamed of, and how it has forced me to really look at myself and my conception of what makes someone successful,” he added. “For me, right now, success is doing the right things for my family and my son, and right now that means living in a basement for the indefinite future.”