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!
Tasha Robinson on Wonder Woman (2017) for IndieWire:
“Wonder Woman has a lightness and wryness that none of its DC predecessors could claim, but it’s still about philosophical crisis and a hero trying to find an identity. It’s still exploring the DCEU’s favorite themes: whether mankind truly deserves heroes, and whether it’s possible for one person to justly wield immense power. Director Patty Jenkins (Monster) and screenwriter Allan Heinberg explore those themes with a humanity that the franchise’s previous films were lacking. They take their protagonist’s natural superiority for granted, making it a joy instead of a heavy burden. In their hands, Wonder Woman questions her place in the world, but not her inherent identity. And it makes all the difference to the story.”
Kate Erbland on Wonder Woman for IndieWire:
“Allan Heinberg’s script (with story credits for both Zack Snyder and franchise newbie Jason Fuchs) provides a compelling backstory for the Amazons and Diana that pulls from various incarnations of the classic character. When we first meet Diana (played first by young Lilly Aspel), she is the lone kid on the Amazon island of Themyscira, born from equal parts clay and her mother’s burning desire to have a child. She’s clearly beloved by the rest of the Amazons, especially her doting mother Queen Hippolyta (a regal Connie Nielsen) and her bad-ass aunt Antiope (Robin Wright, a warrior through and through), but she’s wary of being too sheltered by the affection. She wants to fight.”
Matt Singer on Wonder Woman for Screencrush:
“Gadot proved she could stand shoulder to shoulder with more well-established heroes in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and she’s even better in Wonder Woman. As an actress, she has a rare blend of qualities; she’s endearingly innocent in the scenes where Diana discovers the restrictive women’s clothing of the early 20th century, but she’s equally good as the battle-hardened warrior, as in the show-stopping action sequence where she rallies a bunch of troops to take a fortified German position by drawing the enemy’s machine gun fire.“
Scott Tobias on Wonder Woman for NPR:
“Over the 75 years she has been kept off the big screen, her fitful appearances on the small screen, most notably in the Lynda Carter TV series and on animated shows like Super Friends and Justice League, have made it easy to forget that Wonder Woman is not one of us. She wasn’t bitten by a radioactive spider or transformed by some environmental cataclysm and instead was born a demigod, above and apart from the flaws and frailties of humankind.
Of the many things the new Wonder Woman gets right, the first and most important is a triumph of scale, of emphasizing the alien immensity of Princess Diana before she mingles with humans and accepts her civilian alter ego, Diana Prince. In that respect, director Patty Jenkins has successfully modeled the classicism of the original 1978 Superman, which also builds up the alien mythos of its hero before Clark Kent turns up in nerd glasses and identifies more closely with the denizens of his adopted planet.”
David Ehrlich on 24 Frames (Cannes 2017) for IndieWire:
“Abbas Kiarostami, the great Iranian postmodernist who died last summer at the age of 76, used to say that he preferred the kind of movies that put their audience to sleep. “Some films have made me doze off in the theater,” he would explain, “but the same films have made me stay up at night, wake up thinking about them in the morning, and keep on thinking about them for for weeks.” So while I passed out (and passed out hard) roughly 15 minutes into “24 Frames,” the fascinating, posthumously completed non-narrative project that will serve as Kiarostami’s final farewell, I suspect that he wouldn’t take my unconsciousness as a criticism or a show of disrespect.”
David Ehrlich on Sami Blood for IndieWire:
“From a certain perspective, “Sami Blood” tells a very familiar story, but the hyper-specificity of its telling renders it a wholly new and quietly profound experience. [Amanda] Kernell, who’s half-Sami herself and who loosely based the film on her own grandmother’s experiences, displays both an exquisite fondness for the Sami lifestyle and a keen, complex understanding of its place in the modern world (it helps that she’s explored this territory before, and that much of the film’s tortured and essential framing device is comprised of contemporary-set footage from a short she made in 2015).”
Scott Tobias on Vincent N Roxxy for Variety:
“A bond forged by violence threatens to be broken by same in “Vincent N Roxxy,” a lovers-on-the-lam thriller that reflects and recycles a long history of Bonnie-and-Clyde love stories where the American road doesn’t stretch far enough to stave off the inevitable. Writer-director Gary Michael Schultz attempts his own twist on this familiar tale by starting with two strangers united by happenstance and staging a slow-burn romance in a rural backwater in Louisiana. But genre clichés catch up with Schultz just as surely as the past catches up with his characters and the sweet, redemptive possibilities of their relationship gets washed away in the tide of gratuitous bloodshed. Quietly appealing lead performances by Emile Hirsch and Zoe Kravitz do much to keep the mayhem at bay, but the film seems destined for the home-video obscurity that met many ’90s genre indies that trailed in Quentin Tarantino’s wake.”
Kate Erbland interviews Patty Jenkins for IndieWire:
“The director’s initial plan for her “Thor 2” was a Romeo-and-Juliet-esque space opera that hinged on the separation of Thor and Jane Foster, a tone and direction that’s very different from what emerged in Taylor’s final film.
And Jenkins wasn’t just worried that “Thor 2” wasn’t the right film for her, she was also deeply conscious of the effect it could have on other female filmmakers. “If I do it, and it’s what I think it’s gonna be, I can’t help the fact that it will represent women directors everywhere, and then that’s going to be bad for everybody,” she said.”
Kate Erbland interviews Zoe Lister-Jones for IndieWire’s Girl Talk:
” “I was given this assignment to start a business in my elementary school, and the business that I came up with was an all-female construction company called Big Women. The tagline was ‘There’s No Job to Big for Big Women,’” Lister-Jones said with a laugh. That was just the spark of what would become a game-changing decision, decades later.
“I don’t really have a moment where I remember making that decision,” she said. “For some reason, it lived in me for a really long time, that this was something that I want to create in this world: A place where women, in a collective, get to do work that has otherwise been sort of difficult for them to break into.” “
Jen Chaney on the proliferation of doppelgängers in recent pop culture for Vulture:
“It’s interesting that thinking-person’s blockbusters and serious dramas are having such a field day with this trope considering that it’s so strongly associated with a genre that isn’t usually afforded the same levels of attention and reverence. I am referring to the soap opera, a genre that has never been shy about randomly revealing that a character has an identical sibling or cousin. (Where do you think the original Twin Peaks got the idea to trot out Laura Palmer’s cousin, Madeline, a dead ringer for a dead teenager?)
Just as it has been in soapier contexts, the presence of a duplicate is often utilized in current films and shows as a form of deceit, a way to fake out other characters and, sometimes, the audience itself.”
Craig J. Clark/Hooded Justice takes his first look at Michael Bay’s filmography in “Michael Baywatch Part I: Humble Beginnings (1995-1998)” for Crooked Scoreboard:
“While Bad Boys was produced on a “teeny-tiny budget” (according to Bay) of $19 million, its $65 million domestic take gave Simpson and Bruckheimer the confidence to give him $75 million to spend on their follow-up, 1996’s The Rock, which carried over the ticking-clock scenario and near-pathological avoidance of sex. The latter comes into play when FBI biochemical specialist Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) is called up for service while in the throes of passion with his girlfriend, who’s naturally put out when he doesn’t come back to finish the job. (The fact that she’s already pregnant clearly means sex can happen in the Michael Bayverse, it just has to be put on hold while his heroes rush off to engage in gunplay and car chases.)“
Matthew Dessem on studios vs. Rotten Tomatoes for Slate:
“It’s true that Rotten Tomatoes has had a mostly pernicious effect on movies: Review aggregation is a boring and ugly way to think about art. But that’s not the argument being made here. Instead, studios would prefer that audiences not find out that anyone else thinks a movie is terrible until they can plunk down their money and experience the awfulness for themselves.”
Kate Erbland and David Ehrlich join Anne Thompson, Jamie Righetti, and Eric Kohn on Wonder Woman and the future of the superhero film landscape for IndieWire:
“KATE ERBLAND: Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman” is already earning rave reviews from critics and is poised to have a record-breaking weekend at the multiplex, so it’s easy to assume that the film will bust down barriers which have so far kept women from getting equal representation both in front of and behind the superhero camera. But will that actually happen, even if it so obviously should?
DAVID EHRLICH: […][W]atching this one in a packed theater ahead of the release felt like a completely new experience (at least until third act started overflowing with CG sewage and nonsense story beats and I was reminded of every other film in the DCEU). You could feel it in every iconic reveal and with every speed-ramped kick to the face.
You could feel it in every pitch-perfect gender reversal, in every wonderfully calibrated moment when Chris Pine became the damsel in distress and Gal Gadot his virtuous knight in shining armor (watching “Wonder Woman” is essentially like watching “Thor” in a mirror).”
Nathan Rabin on his 2 1/2 year-old son’s “Superhero Gene” for Big Nate’s Daddy Blog:
“Yet even though Declan doesn’t know anything about Batman and Superman he is nevertheless absolutely obsessed with them. He’ll run around toting one of the superhero figures in our apartment (he doesn’t really delineate them at this point) joyously singing the theme song to the 1960s Batman television show. That’s a show he’s never watched, and a theme song he’s never heard except for my crude approximation. Yet that hasn’t kept him from being so excited about Batman’s mere existence that he sometimes just yells out “The Batcave!” or “The Batmobile!” “
David Ehrlich reflects on his first time at Cannes for IndieWire:
“Cannes is a singular mix of high and low culture, of glitz and grime. It’s the only place in the world where people on the street beg for tickets in tuxedoes (because entry to a Cannes premiere is worthless if you’re not following the dress code). On my first trip to the Grand Théâtre Lumière, an early morning ritual for those attending 8:30 a.m. press screenings, I walked past a cut-out of Samuel L. Jackson and Ewan McGregor from “Star Wars — Episode II: Attack of the Clones.” That would be a strange thing to see anywhere in 2017, but 15 steps away from the most famous red carpet in the film world, it’s like seeing a statue of Ashlee Simpson outside of Carnegie Hall.”
David Ehrlich joins Anne Thompson and Eric Kohn on the “10 Best Movies” of Cannes 2017 for IndieWire:
” “The Promised Land”
[…]Elvis was so many different things to America that the film’s exhaustingly kaleidoscopic attack proves more revealing than a straightforward approach ever could. Whether arguing the degree to which Elvis stole (and profited from) black culture, or contrasting his cushy military service against Muhammed Ali’s refusal to fight, or offering a sympathetic take on how easily the King was ruled, Jarecki paves the last 70 years of American history so that every road leads back to a poor kid with black hair and high cheekbones. The result is the most insightful and comprehensive profile of the icon ever been captured on camera. — DE”
Matthew Dessem’s “analysis” of the Gold Diggers of 1937 trailer for Slate:
“Dateline: Hollywood, USA! The trailer for Gold Diggers of 1937 has silver screen fanatics in a positive frenzy as they flock to theaters to get their first glimpse of the next installment in Warner Bros.’ beloved franchise. And bad luck for MGM snobs: It looks the music, mischief, and merriment in this Warner Bros. holiday spectacular will finally put Gold Diggers on the same playing field as the Broadway Melody Cinematic Universe. Here’s everything we learned about the upcoming film from its trailer.
Director Lloyd Bacon is returning the franchise to its roots.
Warner Bros. seems to have crafted this trailer to send a single message: Gold Diggers fans, we hear you.”
Matt Singer on whether Pixar can “make adults care about Cars” for Screencrush:
“Granted, there will still be plenty of stuff for kids in Cars 3. Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is once again racing his way towards the Piston Cup. His sidekick Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) will get into more goofy shenanigans. But where the first Cars was about a cocky young racer encountering the offbeat residents of a small town, and Cars 2 shifted into broad spy adventures, Cars 3 is about…mortality.
[…]Drawing comparisons to athletes like Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, and Jeff Gordon, and how they handled the final years of their careers, co-writer Bob Peterson (a Pixar vet also known as the voice of Dug from Up) added that Cars 3 is about what “any athlete does with age. Do you let the lack of spring in your legs crumble you, or do you learn how to be a smarter player?” “
Tasha Robinson, Genevieve Koski, Scott Tobias on The Brady Bunch Movie and Baywatch for episodes 78 and 79 of The Next Picture Show podcast:
From Part 1 (download it here):
Robinson: “Genevieve, I need to take a break to brush my lustrous hair a thousand times so everyone will pay more attention to me, can you take over from here?”
Koski: “Tsk-ugh, Tasha, Tasha, Tasha!”
From Part 2 (download it here):
Koski: “The opening scene — I was feeling really optimistic about it, the Rock’s Mitch character patrolling the beach, and it’s just really digging into what a ridiculous kind of hero character he is. There’s crazy dolphins jumping around the logo, and it was kind of the self-awareness that I was hoping I would get from this. And that self-awareness continues throughout the film; it’s just buried beneath dick jokes and not very funny improv-based comedy. And I kept feeling like I was seeing a much weirder, stranger movie struggling to get out, and it just couldn’t, and it really failed because of that.”
Scott Tobias: “[…]That opening is so smart[…] He’s perched as only The Rock can perch, bald eagle-like on top of the lifeguard station, there’s a stiff gust of wind, and the flag stiffens, and then he can just tell everything that’s going to happen from then on out. He’s calculating the trajectory of this parasail as it’s whipping through the air, he just knows what’s going to happen and he gets there in time to save the victim, drags them out of the water. Then you’ve got the wave cresting in the background with the title and the dolphins, and it’s like, “Okay, this kind of gets it, and this is going to be good,” and then that’s the best joke of the entire film.”
Robinson: “Oh, you know, I don’t know about that, I think I liked this movie a fair bit more than either of you guys did or than the general critic consensus did. And maybe it’s because I went in with literally no expectations.”
Keith Phipps with Mike Ryan and guest Anthony Breznican on Night Shift for episode 10 of the Random Movie Night podcast:
Phipps: “[…]It’s weird that [Henry Winkler] didn’t really do that much more acting in the ’80s. We see him all the time now, which is great, but he directed another film toward the end of the ’80s and didn’t really act that much, but he’s terrific in this movie. I think much of the attention, however, went to Keaton; this was his breakthrough role. I was thinking, between him and Bruce Willis, they kind of set the template for Eighties Cool Guy, but who’s not actually cool in many ways[…] This sort of — sunglasses at night, knows everybody, walks in the room and never stops talking — it’s so much fun. I really like Michael Keaton: you can kind of see why this was his moment.”