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 occasionally other stuff) somewhere on the Internet.
These folks are talented and prolific, so please share the pieces we missed in the comments!
Charles Bramesco on Christopher Guest’s For Your Consideration for Oscilloscope Lab’s Musings:
“The film made its debut a scant nine years ago in 2006, not quite in the midlife-crisis-inducing range. And yet Guest’s picture still communicates the passage of time with a glaring specificity that its director could not have possibly anticipated. The film’s inside-baseball take on the Hollywood rumor mill, specifically as it relates to the orgy of PR maneuvering that is the Oscar race, has aged like gutter cheese. John Michael Higgins’ boob of a press rep presciently exemplifies the haste with which baseless speculation hardens into accepted fact, but that process has also been dramatically sped up and refined in the nine interim years. Along with the film’s hilariously crude engagement with technology and a then-nascent internet, it functions almost like a time machine, transporting modern viewers back to a quaint, more innocent era. Ultimately, the gulf separating the status quo ofFor Your Consideration from the present day subtly testifies to the dizzying speed with which life changes these days.”
Keith Phipps writes a double review on co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s Mississippi Grind and directors Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel’s documentary Finders Keepers for Uproxx:
“Mississippi Grind, the fourth feature from co-writers and co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half-Nelson, It’s Kind of a Funny Story), quickly turns into a study in the ups and downs of a newly forged friendship. Gerry and Curtis bond over gambling and quickly come to see each other as kindred spirits. Both have nothing to lose, if for completely different reasons… The film’s both a showcase for its leads and, after Half Nelson, confirmation that Boden and Fleck are unusually gifted at dramatizing addiction. Mississippi Grind captures the ecstasy of a good role of the dice and the desperation of a bad turn of the cards — and provides a sense of why some keep going even when it becomes clear they’ve lost their shot at a happy ending…
A far more unusual shared passion unites the men at the center of the documentary Finders Keepers. When Shannon Whisnant bought the contents of delinquent storage locker in Maiden, North Carolina in 2007, he was delighted to find it contained a grill, then baffled at what he found when he opened it… an embalmed human foot with most of the calf attached to it. Then the story got strange… It’s the sort of “news of the weird” item that fills the Internet on a daily basis, a story to be read and usually forgotten after a disbelieving shake of the head. Finders Keepers directors Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel, however, decided not to let it go, and their film finds layers beneath layers to the tale of two men and the foot the both united and divided them.”
Nathan Rabin on Ben Affleck and Glory Daze in his new column Absolute Beginners for Decider:
“1996’s Glory Daze unwittingly illustrates how a man can engender fierce hatred among a shockingly wide swath of the public simply by doing something as seemingly harmless as acting in a movie. I have come to respect Affleck as an artist, actor and man and even I wanted to punch him right in his smug fucking face the second he appears onscreen rocking a weird faux-hawk/modified mullet abomination that’s shaven on the sides but pompadour-like on top and in the back in addition to a mustache/soul-patch/goatee combination that I can say, without hyperbole, represents the worst hair in the history of western civilization, in movies or outside of them.”
Scott Tobias on Eli Roth’s Green Inferno for NPR:
“Roth always has a foot in two different worlds: The real world, where the headlines and trends of the day are thematic grist for the mill, and the movie world, where gore and depravity are part of longstanding grindhouse tradition. Though it spent two years in legal purgatory after premiering at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2013, Roth’s latest provocation, The Green Inferno, nonetheless arrives right on time to stoke Internet outrage. And it once again finds Roth playing deliberately—and more than a bit recklessly—in the real world and movie world by tucking a critique of campus “slacktivism” within a feature-length homage to notorious exploitation movies like Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox. On its face, The Green Inferno is a supremely offensive depiction of an ancient Amazon tribe as vicious savages with a taste for human flesh. But true to Roth’s other work, it can’t be taken on its face.”
Matt Singer on Roar Uthaug’s The Wave for Screencrush:
“A 250-foot wave is nothing to sneeze at. But in the grand scheme of disaster movies, The Wave is admirably and likably modest. Roland Emmerich and his acolytes have escalated the scale of the American disaster film genre to absurd heights; now it’s not just a boat that’s capsized or a skyscraper on fire, it’s hurricanes the size of continents or the entire planet under attack from an ancient Mayan prophesy. The Wave really is just about one single wave that decimates a Norwegian town, and its impact on a small group of characters, primarily a geologist and his family. That’s it — but that’s all it needs to be. This film is a reminder that disaster movies work best when they focus on the characters and their struggles, not the big special effects they’re running from.
[The] central characters, Kristian and his family, are convincingly three-dimensional, and Uthaug spends enough time (nearly half the picture) exploring the ups and downs of their daily lives before the tsunami hits to ensure the audience is fully invested in their fate.”
“Ugly: Awakenings (1990)
Acting challenges don’t get much harder than playing characters with neurological conditions, and if Awakenings doesn’t feature one of De Niro’s very best performances it certainly features what must have been one of his most difficult. His Leonard Lowe is a man who revives from decades-long catatonic state thanks to an experimental treatment administered by Dr. Malcolm Sayer (Robin Williams, playing a fictionalized version of Oliver Sacks, who wrote the memoir on which it’s based). De Niro is convincing as both a catatonic and as a man in the grips of tics and spasms as the treatment starts to fail. It’s hard to watch largely because he makes it seem so uncomfortably real. KP”
Rachel Handler and friends ask “Am I A Bad Feminist?” for Buzzfeed: