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!
Keith Phipps on Patti Cake$ for Uproxx:
“Played by Danielle Macdonald, Patricia Dumbrowski leads a fairly humdrum life. She spends her days worrying about her family’s mounting medical expenses and her nights slinging drinks to mouthy customers at a dive bar seemingly intent on staging the state’s saddest karaoke nights. Occasionally old acquaintances bump into her and call her by her nickname, “Dumbo,” which has more to do with her ample frame than her surname.
But Patricia has another name for herself: Killah P. And when she closes her eyes, she floats into a psychedelic hip-hop video wonderland overseen by her idol, the rapper O-Z (Sahr Nagujah). It’s not just idle dreaming, either. Patricia can spit, and this hasn’t escaped the attention of her best friend Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay), a pharmacist with musical aspirations who pictures a future singing the hooks on her songs.”
David Ehrlich on Gook for IndieWire:
“Almost certainly the most confrontational film about the Asian-American experience since “Better Luck Tomorrow,” Justin Chon’s “Gook” is about as subtle as a trash can smashing through a pizzeria window, but this isn’t a story for subtle times. Set on April 29, 1992 — the first night of the Los Angeles Riots — it’s not a story about subtle times, either. On the contrary, this messy but lived-in drama is intended for a climate that’s tilted towards hatred and erasure, an environment in which people are forced to scream their voices hoarse just to remind the world of their basic humanity. You don’t call a movie “Gook” because you feel heard.”
Matt Singer on The Hitman’s Bodyguard for ScreenCrush:
“The Hitman’s Bodyguard is not the best movie of the summer, but it is easily its most pleasant surprise. An unapologetically violent and vulgar buddy action comedy, it updates the template set forth by Lethal Weapon and particularly Midnight Run for a new era.
[…]It’s an ideal macho rivalry for this sort of movie, and Jackson and Reynolds are ideal actors to play that dynamic. Jackson, in full Bad Mother F—er mode, looks particularly enthused by his role, which gives him license to kill, strut, preen, and pose, not to mention reassert his position as cinema’s foremost poet of the profane.”
David Ehrlich on The Hitman’s Bodyguard for IndieWire:
“In “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” a half-assed action-comedy that lacks the courage to commit to its own premise, Jackson says “motherfucker” 934 times (that’s not an exact count, but it feels right). At first, it just sounds like the role of Darius Kincaid — an assassin so un-killable that even his own wife refers to him as “the cockroach” — was written or re-written with Jackson in mind. Over time, however, it starts to seem more likely that the role was so underwritten the actor had no choice but to fill in the blanks with his signature epithet. And the more we learn about Kincaid’s backstory, the more we realize that “motherfucker” isn’t being used to add character so much as it’s being used as a substitute for one.”
Mike D’Angelo on The Wound for The A.V. Club:
“Set among the Xhosa people, who inhabit the southernmost part of South Africa, the film observes a real-life rite of passage in which young men travel to a remote mountain location for what amounts to an extended group camping trip. Which sounds swell, except that the first thing they experience upon arrival is ritual circumcision, performed without anesthetic, or even much in the way of prelude. A man kneels in front of each teenager with a sharp instrument and casually removes the foreskin, lickety-split, as if he were clipping a fingernail. The next few weeks are spent bonding while slowly healing. Unity and strength in pain.
The Wound isn’t a tract arguing for or against this practice, thankfully.”
David Ehrlich on The Wound for IndieWire:
“Ukwaluka is a time-honored practice; it began long before Mandela himself endured the experience in 1934, and it still persists today in a 21st century world of luxury SUVs, nose rings, and iPhones. Masculinity and modernity may not be mutually exclusive terms, but Xhosa traditions reveal a certain tension between the two forces, and Ukwaluka endures because the act of protesting against it is itself considered to be an irrevocable sign of weakness. Despite a rash of recent laws and initiatives designed to make the ordeal safer, 34 boys died during the ritual between June and July of 2013 alone, some from infection and others from the eight days of starvation that follows the procedure. Some were murdered.”
Nathan Rabin on Monster Trucks for My World of Flops:
“In theory, there’s a lot to like about Monster Trucks. It’s very nakedly in the tradition of beloved creature features from the 1970s and 1980s from people like Stephen King and Steven Spielberg about sad, lost or lonely boys, teens or men whose banal, mundane existences are changed forever when a fantastical creature or creatures enters their world, or when they leave our world for the stars.
[…]Monster Trucks deserves credit less for what it is than for what it is not because, to be brutally honest, it’s not much. It’s almost impressively not much.”
Nathan Rabin on Captain America: Civil War for Lukewarm Takes:
“Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) is nearly as defined by loss as he is by power. He hasn’t just lost people close to him, he lost an entire world, his world, when he went to sleep in the 1940s and awoke in the present. And Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man, is actually introduced re-living, through the magic of technology, the moment in his young life just before his parents both died young.
[…]Where previous Marvel movies seemed weighed down by all their world-building and exposition, Civil War is enlivened by it. I found myself getting excited rather than irritated when the movie kept introducing, or rather re-introducing characters, like Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man, whose role here is appropriately small in screen time but big in impact.”
Nathan Rabin on The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story (2014) for Control Nathan Rabin:
“In this bizarre new take, the show isn’t hot garbage elevated to iconic status by its tween and pre-tween audience’s terrible taste but rather ground-breaking, important and substantive television. When creator Peter Engel tells his cast towards the end of the film, “We created something unique, that touches people’s hearts. We made the whole world sit up and pay notice” the movie enthusiastically cosigns his sentiments whereas the Diamond of Behind The Bell depicts Engel—who is never anything other than a nice guy and kindly patriarch, albeit dressed throughout in a 1980s Nerd costume and afflicted with a terrible combover—as a dude who may have enjoyed bisexual underage threesomes with his cast.”
Nathan Rabin on Gus (1976) for Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place:
“And having finally satiated 41 years of curiosity about the movie with the Yugoslavian mule that kicks hundred yard field goals (Yes, I was curious about Gus before I was able to talk), I’m pleased to report that the reality of Gus is even more impossibly beautiful and perfect and pure than I could have dreamed of. You’d think a premise like a field-goal kicking mule would be impossible to live up to, but it’s not.
[…]Thankfully, Gus has a more important talent as well: he can kick a football a hundred yards. This brings him to the attention of Hank Cooper (Edward Asner), the cranky owner of the California Atoms, a team that somehow manages to go entire seasons without scoring a point, let alone winning a game.”
Kate Erbland interviews Noomi Rapace for IndieWire:
“Rapace was intrigued by the inherent challenge of playing seven characters in a single film, but the opportunity to contribute her own ideas to the changes necessary to gender-swap the roles was what really excited her.
“I was very involved in the script, kind of giving each character a real back story, a real life, a real personality,” she said. “I didn’t want them to be cliches, kind of like Spice Girls. ‘This is the sexy one, this is the shy one, this is the tough one.’ [I wanted] to actually treat them, each one of them, as if they were the main character.” “
Charles Bramesco interviews Noomi Rapace for Nylon:
“In the scenes where you’re playing multiple characters at once, what’s the shooting process like?
We used all methods we could possibly find. It was a mix of things; we had to find solutions on the day-of sometimes. We had six doubles, girls who would play the other characters in shots over the shoulder or wide shots. I would have to show them what I wanted to do as each one of the sisters, almost like directing the doubles. Sometimes it’d be just me, alone with green screens and tennis balls.”
Charles Bramesco interviews Julie Klausner for Nylon:
“You and I spoke around this time last year for a piece about season two [of Difficult People]. What’s been the biggest change in your life since then?
Oh, gosh, I don’t know! I don’t do a lot besides make this show, which I’m comfortable with because I’m proud of it and love it so much. All the changes in my life would probably be just the new episodes. I don’t know if that sounds pathetic or not, but yeah, I don’t have that much of a life outside of churning out these babies.
Is it rewarding to immerse yourself in one purposeful task like that?
It feels good because the show is totally me. I have the privilege of making the exact show I want to make.”
Charles Bramesco interviews Brigette Lundy-Paine for Nylon:
“Is there anyone in your life on the spectrum, or did you otherwise have any personal connection to the material in Atypical?
My mom was a special needs teacher for a long time, she worked at preschools. So I grew up with kids on the spectrum through her. On set, Anthony [Jacques] was autistic, he plays Christopher on the show. He was one of the first adults I’ve hung out with, knowing they had autism. When I got cast, I started really researching autism, reading up online. But most of my education was being on set, learning from our consultant on site, talking with Keir [Gilchrist]. We all kind of learned together.”
Matt Singer on “2017: The Year Summer Movies Got Good Again” for Screencrush:
“The last couple months gave us wide releases as varied as It Comes at Night, Atomic Blonde, and Girls Trip. If you live in a big city, you’ve also got, or are about to get access to films like A Ghost Story, The Beguiled, The Little Hours, Brigsby Bear, The Trip to Spain, Ingrid Goes West, and Detroit. If you have Netflix, you can watch Okja, which is as good as anything released in theaters this year. Last summer at this time, when people would ask me “What’s the best thing you’ve seen lately?” I would smile awkwardly and change the subject. This year, I’ve got five different movies I can recommend, depending on who I’m talking to and what they want to see.”
Charles Bramesco on Steven Soderbergh’s independence in his debut for Mic:
“He’s seemingly cracked the code that’s he’s been puzzling over for the full duration of his three-decade career: seizing creative control without sacrificing the money required for name-brand actors or technical sophistication. This latest scheme represents the realization of a lifelong dream for Soderbergh, the culmination of a working life spent clearing new back-paths to funding and production. A restless eclecticism has run through Soderbergh’s filmography as he hops between genres, moods and scopes. The one constant uniting his varied body of work is its defiant emphasis on independence, by any means necessary.”
Koski: “For all that [Hicks] is the most human of the marines, he’s still a marine, and I think you see that separation later in this minute when they see Newt hiding in the corner there, and he’s just grabbing at her. He’s smiling and grabbing at her while Ripley is like, ‘Shh, shh, it’s okay.” She’s soothing, and the contrast between their two approaches to this new element, I think really underlines the distinction between the marines’ approach of this brutish, inelegant approach of just barreling ahead, relying on force and fortitude, rather than the thoughtfulness and self-preservation that I think we see coming from Ripley.”
Keith Phipps joins the Alcohollywood podcast on Blazing Saddles:
Phipps: “[…]You look at something like High Anxiety or Spaceballs, and those are very funny movies, but they don’t have that extra layer, I think. [Brooks] didn’t have to make a movie about racism and the white imperialism that’s at the heart of the western genre and sort of in still, and the way that it plays out in films, and sending up the movies in which it’s embedded, but he did, and I think that’s what really gives this extra layer and really makes it such a special film.”