When the late, great website The Dissolve ended operations, its 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!
Sheila O’Malley on Lady Bird for Film Comment:
“Gerwig co-directed and co-wrote a number of features in her “mumblecore” beginnings before her fruitful collaboration with Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha, Mistress America). Her first solo flight as a director and writer is beautifully confident in its rhythm and mood, the script whip-sawing from humor to earnest emotion to raw pain and back.”
Sheila O’Malley on Thelma for RogerEbert.com:
“There’s a lot going on in “Thelma,” too much at times, with a number of familiar story-structures dovetailing in at different angles. Ultimately, it’s the story of a strange submissive girl investigating the mystery of her own clouded-over past. It’s also a coming-of-age story, compressed and thwarted by parental control via religion reminiscent of “Carrie” (the film owes a lot to “Carrie”). It is crystal clear that “coming out” to her parents would not be an option, so as Thelma falls head over heels in love/lust with Anja, her psychological situation deteriorates.”
Tasha Robinson on Radius for The Verge:
“It’s easy to walk into a big movie feeling like you already know all the major beats, because they’ve been discussed to death online in “Everything we know about this movie” articles, and “Let’s pick apart this trailer frame-by-frame” videos.
And then along comes something unheralded, under-the-radar, and authentically strange, like the Canadian movie Radius. Suddenly the audience is on a fast-paced trip into the unknown, with no idea where this premise could possibly lead. And Radius, the latest collaboration between married writer-director team Caroline Labrèche and Steeve Léonard, does start with an unbeatable premise that feels like a solid Stephen King horror story.”
David Ehrlich on Coco for IndieWire:
“Fresh and stale in equal measure, “Coco” represents the best of what Pixar can be, and the worst of what they’ve become. Impressively, it often does both of those things at the exact same time, the film illustrating the studio’s limitless imagination, but doing so in the service of a tediously derivative adventure that can’t withstand even a scintilla of scrutiny. This a movie that finds them trying some (long overdue) new things, while also falling into some of their worst habits; a movie that doesn’t come to life until it enters the Land of the Dead.”
Sam Adams on Murder on the Orient Express for Slate:
“Previously, Poirot’s lip fuzz—Albert Finney’s in Sidney Lumet’s 1974 Orient Express, or David Suchet’s in the long-running ITV series named after the Belgian detective—has hovered on the edge of being un peu ridicule, but Branagh’s is a swooping, architecturally implausible affectation that makes it look as if a tiny but majestic falcon has parked itself just under his nose.
Murder on the Orient Express, which Branagh also directed, turns out to be much like the mustache on his Poirot: impressively elaborate but merely decorative.”
David Ehrlich on Murder on the Orient Express for IndieWire:
“Arrestingly sumptuous from the very first shot (and filmed in glorious 65mm), this cozy new riff on Agatha Christie’s classic mystery is such an old-fashioned yarn that it could have been made back in 1934 if not for all the terrible CGI snow and a late-career, post-disgrace Johnny Depp performance that reeks of 21st century fatigue. Indeed, it’s hard to overstate just how refreshing it feels to see a snug, gilded piece of studio entertainment that doesn’t involve any spandex. Or, more accurately, how refreshing it would have felt had Branagh understood why Christie’s story has stood the test of time.”
Nathan Rabin on Thor: Ragnarok for Scalding Hot Takes:
“The natural inclination with a character who’s a fucking norse God would be to go big and soap-operatic, delivering a performance epic enough for a motherfucking GOD OF THUNDER. Hemsworth goes the opposite direction. He underplays Thor. There’s a sly element of winking self-deprecation to Hemsworth’s take on the character, a wink and a nod that assures us that Hemsworth understands and appreciates the inherent ridiculousness of what’s going on as much as the audience does.”
David Ehrlich on Pottersville for IndieWire:
“Destitute and alone, left with nothing but their yuletide vision, Henrickson drunkenly stumbled upon an abandoned USB drive behind the manger of a local church. On it he found a genuine treasure trove of blackmail, full of incriminating information about a random assortment of beloved character actors. Michael Shannon! Judy Greer! Ron Perlman! Ian McShane! They were all there. And soon, they would all be gathered together in upstate New York, bringing the dream of “Pottersville” to life in exchange for their freedom.
There’s really no other way to make sense of this madness.”
David Ehrlich on Daddy’s Home 2 for IndieWire:
“Four. Dads. This must be what it felt like for people to see “The Arrival of a Train” for the first time, except much scarier; with all due respect to the naïve 19th century audiences of an apocryphal story, but a locomotive racing towards the camera isn’t nearly as terrifying as the sight of a grizzled Mel Gibson riding down an airport escalator in slow-motion. It feels like director Sean Anders storyboarded this scene with his drawings from that time he had to illustrate “toxic masculinity” during a game of Pictionary (a game he presumably won).”
Tasha Robinson on Give Me Future for The Verge:
“A little over a year after President Obama eased the 54-year trade sanction against Cuba, Major Lazer went to Havana for an unprecedented mega-scale outdoor concert. (They beat the Rolling Stones there by about three weeks.) Give Me Future — a conscious titular riff on the famous 1970 Stones documentary Gimme Shelter — covers that concert, but it spends much more time exploring Cuban youth culture, the current state of music, the ambitions of local musicians, and the idiosyncratic technology that binds everything.”
Nathan Rabin on Hitman (1992) for Cannonvember:
“The sixth and final movie of my current Chuck Norris spree casts Norris as Cliff Garret (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) a tough cop with a Sam Elliott-worthy mustache but no beard. When a drug deal goes awry, Cliff ends up pumped full of bullet holes by corrupt cop Ronny “Del” Delany (Michael Parks).
[…][Parks] was a TV star and a country musician who did some of his finest work in pieces of shit like The Hitman. Parks is absolutely electrifying in The Hitman’s opening.”
Kate Erbland interviews Saoirse Ronan for IndieWire:
“As Lady Bird, Ronan is all energy and spirit and angst, an eye-rolling teen on the cusp of something new, something more, just something else. She doesn’t have it all figured out, and she doesn’t have to.
“She was this girl who was going to do something, and she was going to be something, but she didn’t know quite what she was going to do and who she was going to be,” Ronan told IndieWire of her first impression of the character. “I like that we found her at this in-between moment, while she was figuring it all out. She hadn’t necessarily arrived anywhere yet, she was just in between these big moments.” “
Rachel Handler interviews Joachim Trier for Vulture:
“Some spoilers for Thelma in the Q&A below.
[…]Where did the germ of this idea come from?
It’s embarrassing, it’s the least virtuous place. My previous film, Louder Than Bombs, was supposed to be shot in New York, and it ended up [eventually] being made in New York, but it went on a sort of detour when it collapsed financially. I had cast Isabelle Huppert and Jesse Eisenberg, and some of my favorite actors, and suddenly the financing fell through and I felt humiliated. I was pissed off, I went back to Oslo, and what do you do? You start watching revenge movies [Laughs].”
Tasha Robinson interviews Joachim Trier for The Verge:
“In America, Thelma has been referred to as a horror story, a fairy tale, and a superhero movie. Do any of those labels particularly fit for you?
Yes and no! I mean, the whole fun of this film is that we are trying to combine our curiosity and my passion from my upbringing, growing up the ‘80s with a lot of synthesizer soundtracks and Stephen King books and films of that nature. I tried to do all that as a modern drama, the liberating story of a young woman who tries to find a way to exist, to accept herself and become autonomous. Which is kind of a classical tale.”
Tasha Robinson interviews Taika Waititi for The Verge:
“[…][H]ere, so much of the cast was pre-established from past, non-improv movies. How did you get them comfortable with your style and your comedy rhythm?
Well for a start, I don’t allow everyone to do it. I figure out who’s good at it and who’s not, and only allow the people who are good at it to do it. And then I just tried to create an environment. We’re all friends on set. We become mates. And that, to me, is the perfect way of creating a free space to be creative.”
Charles Bramesco interviews Kathryn Newton for Nylon:
“[…][T]his month alone, she’ll show up on the big screen as Frances McDormand’s daughter in the furious black comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and as a classmate to the title character in Greta Gerwig’s nostalgic bildungsroman Lady Bird. It’s a year that many actors her age would kill for. “The past six months, I did three projects at the same time,” she says. “Two were in Atlanta, so I’d work in the morning on one and in the afternoon on another. I felt like I was the luckiest actor in the world to be on two great projects in one day, like, boom-boom.” “
Matt Singer interviews Bryan Cranston for ScreenCrush:
“So did you rely on Richard Linklater to tell you when to take the the foot off the gas a lot or was it pretty easy to get in the right range on your own?
He’s so good at what he does. He so softly orchestrates you that you don’t even notice. He might suggest looking in another direction, and just looking in the other direction might automatically require you to lift your foot off the accelerator and go into another direction. He’s so good at it.”
Kate Erbland on “How Refinery29’s Female Filmmaker-Focused Shatterbox Shorts Are Creating the Next Generation of Auteurs” for IndieWire’s Girl Talk:
“By the summer of 2016, they’d made the decision to zero in on short films, a product of both their financial constraints and the realization that there really were a bevy of women eager and able to make shorts. “We’re not a studio, we’re not a television company, we don’t have a ton of money,” Gibson said. “It was like, ‘We just actually need to give more women money to experiment at this particular stage.’”
It was instantly clear how many women they could reach. When they first partnered with the Sundance Institute, their Women at Sundance program sent them a list of 70 possible filmmakers to target.”
Kate Erbland on the successes and difficulties female directors face in Hollywood for IndieWire:
“Such successes, and the obvious desire from audiences to see films directed by and about women, are heartening in an industry that still struggles to even offer its female directors the same opportunities as its male directors. But the breakout power of “Wonder Woman” and “Lady Bird” also further illuminate just how desperately Hollywood needs to alter these practices. For both Jenkins and Gerwig, simply being able to make their films was a struggle, one that Hollywood routinely (and, yes, systematically) heaps upon its women creators, even the ones who are capable of crafting commercial hits.”
Kate Erbland on “Reddit Movies’ Inability to Handle Sexual Harassment” for IndieWire:
“In that same help-us-with-this post “girafa” notes, “There is no compromise: if we allow one accusation story in /r/movies we must allow them all.” But the /r/movies team has already compromised, rolling out a new subreddit under the heading “/r/MovieScandals,” specifically built to handle these stories. (Its name alone brings to mind this viral tweet, further highlighting the tone-deaf nature of the entire endeavor.) That may seem like a reasonable compromise, and it’s too early to really assess if it could make a difference — but so far, it’s not working.”
Charles Bramesco asks “What do we make of the women in Louis CK’s ‘I Love You, Daddy’?” for Mic:
“The time for an argument about separating the art from the artist has long since passed — C.K. is inextricable from this film in particular, and even if he wasn’t, aesthetic values pale in comparison to the situation’s real-life stakes — but the question of separating the collaborators from artist proves tougher to unpack.
[…][Rose] Byrne is one of four actresses who deliver marvelous performances, work that is now (rightly, frustratingly) fated to live on in “For Your Consideration” screeners sent prematurely.”
Noel Murray on how “Three Billboards and The Meyerowitz Stories prove that great casting makes great movies” for The Week:
“It’s rare to see two characters and two performances in a single film as multi-dimensional as Rockwell’s and McDormand’s. But Three Billboards doesn’t stop there. John Hawkes is memorably unnerving in a small role as Mildred’s violent ex. Caleb Landy Jones has a few striking moments as a gay local business owner. Peter Dinklage is downright heartbreaking as a barfly who’s so smitten with Mildred that he goes out of his way to run errands for her. (“I like holding ladders; it takes me out of myself,” he says while helping her put up her billboards.)”
David Ehrlich on how “2017’s Best Performances Find Actors Playing Themselves” for IndieWire:
“There are a zillion exceptions to this rule, but the fact remains that if you want to win an Oscar, you’d be wise to play somebody else.
At least, that’s been the conventional wisdom for the last 90 years. But this is 2017, and adopting conventional wisdom is just another way of being wrong. It’s time to re-write the playbook and invert everything we think we know. Case in point: Where the Academy Awards used to focus our attention on actors who play historical figures, this year our attention is just as focused on actors who are effectively playing themselves.”
David Ehrlich on sex in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for IndieWire:
“Hyper-sexualized but almost entirely sexless, the Marvel movies are emblematic of a blockbuster culture in which a certain degree of celibacy has become the norm. At a time when desperate studios are relying on the success of overly inflated event titles in order to stay afloat, the sheer cost of these juggernauts inevitably dictates their content, requiring the films to appeal not just to the traditional 18-34 demographic, but also younger kids, older adults, and — perhaps most importantly — the fine people of all ages who serve China’s censorship bureau.”
Kate Erbland on the results of “Mark and Jay Duplass’ Campaign to Find America’s Next Generation of Indie Filmmakers” for IndieWire:
“Now, Mark Duplass and Seed&Spark founder and CEO Emily Best have picked their winners, with Duplass Brothers Productions coming on board to executive produce two locally based features as the winners of the Hometown Heroes Crowdfunding Rally.
Those winners include “The MisEducation of Bindu” (from Indianapolis, IN) and “Drought” (from Wilmington, NC). “The Miseducation of Bindu” also received a a 10TB hard drive from G-Technology. “Drought” also received a $25,000 no-interest loan from Duplass Brothers Productions and a camera rental package valued at $10,000 from Abelcine.”
Nathan Rabin launches his new podcast, Nathan Rabin’s Happy Cast in Episode 1, This Might Totally Suck with Clint Worthington – the minutes are:
00:45 – Introductions
06:30 – The March on Washington
28:34 – Scalding Hot Takes: Thor Ragnarok
47:22 – Harvey Weinstein/WTF is Wrong With Men?
1:02:35 – The Weird Accordion to Al
1:16:47 – Listener Mail
1:23:15 – Happy Places
[1:29:22 – Nathan Rabin’s Juggalo March on Washington Speech]
Lessons learned from an ultra-late night of recording our @NextPicturePod episodes on LADY BIRD/GHOST WORLD: existential fart jokes are the best fart jokes, and once Scott becomes supervillain Doc Scottopus, he will be unstoppable. pic.twitter.com/9fqHDCHIlP
— Tasha Robinson (@TashaRobinson) November 9, 2017