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!
(Non)Update from last week: it still has yet to be confirmed whether Rachel Handler was among the many writers laid off from MTV News. Handler’s last article for MTV News was posted over two weeks ago, so it’s an unfortunate possibility. Let us hope for the best, whether it involves her staying on or moving on to something better.
In the meantime, Handler’s investigative abilities remain top-notch:
Can we talk about how Rooney Mara HAD NEVER EVER ONCE HAD PIE BEFORE making #AGhostStory 👻
— jen yamato (@jenyamato) July 6, 2017
— rachel handler (@rachel_handler) July 7, 2017
— Kate Mara (@katemara) July 8, 2017
Genevieve Valentine on the book Off the Cliff for NPR:
“Becky Aikman’s Off the Cliff is subtitled How the Making of Thelma & Louise Drove Hollywood to the Edge. That sounds like hyperbole, except that this book crackles with frustration on all sides.[…]
At first it feels a bit rose-colored, and Aikman seems more interested in the process than in deconstructing the product. There’s relatively little about the film’s legacy: whether the film is feminist, whether it meant to be, whether it matters.
However, while easy answers aren’t required, there’s no way to talk about Thelma & Louise without talking about those things. And in Off the Cliff, you get the sense that Aikman isn’t just taking note of the feminist ire at the heart of this movie: She’s out to show how much of a fight it really was.”
Craig J. Clark/Hooded Justice on the “Shifting Group and Power Dynamics” in Beatriz at Dinner for Crooked Scoreboard:
“In a way, the most important relationship in Beatriz at Dinner is the one between the title character and someone who only appears in a handful of photographs. Played by a noticeably deglamorized Salma Hayek — for whom the role was tailor-made by director Miguel Arteta and writer Mike White — Beatriz is a holistic health practitioner whose work with cancer patients brought her into the orbit of Cathy and Grant (Connie Britton and David Warshofsky) when their daughter Tara was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. Now fully recovered (thanks in no small part to Beatriz’s efforts) and at college in Ohio, Tara is a world away from her cloistered home in Newport Beach, Calif., but her mother still periodically calls on Beatriz to work miracles in her capacity as a massage therapist.“
Scott Tobias on The Rehearsal for NPR:
“Based on the first novel by Booker Prize-winner Eleanor Catton, The Rehearsal takes the craft of acting seriously enough to understand perils far beyond careers that never get off the ground. It is incisive about the process that yields a great performer, which can unearth painful revelations about who they are and have consequences for the real people who inspire them. Casting a sympathetic eye across the entire cast of characters, Maclean and her co-writer, novelist Emily Perkins, consider the vanity, ambition and human weakness that can inform creative expression while fostering moral toxicity in the process. What’s a few ruined lives when there might be agents in the audience?”
Nathan Rabin on The Lego Batman Movie for Lukewarm Takes:
“Arnett has one of the great manly growls in pop culture, right up there with his 30 Rock antagonist Alec Baldwin. He specializes in playing cocky alpha males who can never quite hide the fact that they are sad little man-children who never got over their dad not hugging them enough as children.
That’s The Lego Batman Movie’s Bruce Wayne, although, to be fair, he does have that whole “parents being killed” thing to help explain his chilly disposition. As the movie opens, Bruce Wayne is triumphant in his dominance of Gotham City but he is also terribly, terribly alone. Loneliness has long been a core characteristic of Bruce Wayne.”
David Ehrlich on City of Ghosts for IndieWire:
“Evil spreads faster than justice — that’s one of the things that makes it so sinister. It’s hard to contain, it’s always on the offensive, and it isn’t bound by the tactfulness of the truth. Love must be fought for, hate needs only to be permitted. There’s a lot to sort through in Matt Heineman’s profoundly harrowing “City of Ghosts,” the latest in a long line of recent documentaries about the atrocities that are being committed in Syria, but that grim dichotomy emerges from the chaos intact and more striking than ever. Almost everything else is lost in the rubble, sacrificed at the altar of a film whose horrors are so upsetting that they ultimately represent little more than their own madness.”
Nathan Rabin on Eddie for Trumpterpiece Theater:
“When I worked at Blockbuster Video as a teenager, they used to play an Entertainment Tonight half hour package on repeat. So, over the course of an eight-hour shift, I would watch the same terrible fake television program sixteen times. Consequently, I went completely insane and I also remember, to this day, pretty much everything that was on that goddamn program.
This includes brief excerpts from Eddie where Goldberg, in full on Don Rickles-of-the-hardwood mode, responds to a competing player calling her a bad coach by saying that said player looked like a “roach.” Even more annoyingly, I will never forget the moment in Eddie where Dennis Rodman razzes Eddie by calling her a bad coach and she comes back with, “Bad hair!” “
Nathan Rabin on National Lampoon’s Last Resort for Control Nathan Rabin:
“In a career choice that doubled as a dual cry for help, the downward spiraling Feldman and Dave star as Sam and Dave, respectively. Feldman is a small-time hustler with a weakness for telling big whoppers. Haim’s character is introduced rocking a then-trendy virtual reality helmet, and early in the film introduces himself as “an angrily compulsive cyber-punk searching for electronic bliss!” but the movie almost instantly forgets about the whole virtual reality angle, possibly because even back then they somehow had a sense that despite all the hype, virtual reality wasn’t ever going to be a thing.”
Scott Tobias’ Bong Joon Ho recommendations post-Okja for The New York Times:
“Bong’s feature debut, “Barking Dogs Never Bite” (2000, South Korea) sounds like an intolerable affront to animal lovers, relating the story of an out-of-work college lecturer (Lee Sung-jae) who gets so annoyed by the yapping dogs at his apartment complex that he takes drastic action. That he proves utterly inept at dognapping doesn’t obscure his horrific efforts to silence every small pup that comes to his attention, nor does it prevent the janitor from contributing in his own macabre way to the missing-dog epidemic.
Kate Erbland interviews Tom Holland and Jon Watts for IndieWire:
” “I had been wanting to make a coming-of-age movie anyway, and I had been writing something and doing a lot of research just watching all the movies, immersing myself in the genre,” Watts said. “I immediately started talking about how I felt about the genre and what I thought were the important things to explore in a coming-of-age movie, and how that could then apply to a superhero movie using it as a different lens.”
[…]“I can’t describe to you how stressed I was while auditioning for this movie,” Holland continued. “It wasn’t just me auditioning, the whole world was auditioning for this movie. Not in the sense that everyone was auditioning for the part, but everyone was reading about it, tweeting about it. Everyone had an opinion on what they wanted.” “
Kate Erbland interviews Jacob Batalon for IndieWire:
” “What was so crazy was that, while waiting for the part, I was also about to graduate from film school,” he said. “So that anxiety of, ‘What am I gonna do with my life after school? Where am I gonna go?,’ that plus the pressure of getting the movie, it was eating me up inside. When I actually got the part, it was more like relief than anything else.”
He boned up quickly on Spider-Man lore, reading reams of comics and getting to know the different iterations of his character – originally depicted as a tall blond reporter, though later versions cast him as an Asian American – and soon saw himself in the character.”
Matt Singer interviews Jon Watts for Screencrush:
“Did you get to play a role creating in Spider-Man’s scenes in Civil War that introduced your version of the character?
Yeah — but not massively. Basically Tom Holland and I got hired on the same day. And the first thing I did was I got to read the script for Civil War and I talked with [Civil War directors] Joe and Anthony [Russo] for a really long time. And I gave them all of my own personal materials about “This is what Peter’s bedroom should look like, this is what his wardrobe should look like.” Just anything like that to make sure we were all on the same page so that my movie transitions seamlessly with theirs.”
Scott Tobias interviews Andy Samberg, Murray Miller, and Jake Szymanski for GQ Magazine:
“What went into persuading Lance Armstrong to do this?
Matthew Dessem’s obituary for Nelsan Ellis for Slate:
“Nelsan Ellis, who played short-order cook Lafayette Reynolds on HBO’s vampire series True Blood, died from complications from heart failure at the age of 39, Variety reports. Actress Octavia Spencer, who appeared with Ellis in The Help, reported the actor’s death on Instagram, writing “Just got word that we lost @nelsanellisofficial. My heart breaks for his kids and family.”
Ellis hailed from Harvey, Illinois, and after a brief stint in the Marines, studied at Illinois State and Julliard. He appeared on Fox’s crime drama The Inside in 2005 before landing his breakout role on True Blood. From there, he branched out into features, appearing in The Soloist, The Help, Get on Up, and Lee Daniels’ The Butler; most recently he could be seen in a recurring role on CBS’ modern-day Sherlock Holmes show Elementary.”
Kate Erbland on “Why Sofia Coppola Should Not Make a Studio Movie” for IndieWire’s Girl Talk:
“Armed with an Oscar and a distinctive filmmaking sensibility, Sofia Coppola may seem like the sort of filmmaker primed to make the jump to big studio movies. Who wouldn’t want more money and a bigger stage to spend it on? Well, Coppola doesn’t — and she’s right to stay away.
A recent article in Variety questioned if Coppola “may be trapping herself in a boutique bubble of her own,” asking if “perhaps her next move should be to work on a larger scale, to mix it up in some way, to shake herself out of her comfort zone.” Yet the filmmaker has roundly rejected such demands to somehow inflate her portfolio in the name of “growth,” balking at blockbusters and sequels, and resisting the notion that her projects should primarily exist to make a lot of money.”
Sam Adams on Dunkirk and 70mm releases for Slate:
“As recently as two years ago, 70 mm, which as the name implies is captured on a negative twice the width of traditional 35 mm film, was nearly extinct. But the success of the 70 mm “roadshow” of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight showed that audiences would turn out to see a movie in the analog version of high definition, and while some critics carped that a movie set largely inside a snowed-in roadhouse was a strange place to use a format traditionally employed for epics like Lawrence of Arabia, there’s no question that Nolan’s large-scale battle scenes fill the bill.”
Matthew Dessem’s post-modern report on the weekend box office…using Minions memes (it’s so much better than it sounds) for Slate:
“Despicable Me 3 was the number one film in America this weekend, bringing in $75.3 million, Variety reports.
[…]Sony’s Baby Driver pulled in $30 million, a solid second place, for director Edgar Wright’s biggest hit yet.”
^ this but in Impact font over stock images of Minions.
Tasha Robinson joins The Alien Minute podcast episode 16 on Aliens:
Robinson: “In the very first second of this minute, we’re just looking at [Paul Reiser] with the light falling in on his face, and he’s just got this ridiculous poofy Seinfeld hair going on. And he’s here in his suit and his 80s hair, and compared to what we’ve seen in Alien, he just looks so different. Those were grubby, working-class people in a grubby, working-class ship, and he sails in here as just, like, the epitome of The Company. He’s in his nice suit, he’s in his nice tie, and he’s saying all these slick things and handing out super-futuristic plastic business cards. To me, his character is exactly what he looks like.”