The Dissolve

A playground for movie lovers

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“This tension between past and present, and between the conventions of the stage and film, comes to a head in the film’s best, brightest, boldest musical number, “Wig In A Box.” Occurring almost exactly at the film’s midway point, “Wig In A Box” is when the Hedwig/Hansel of the past gives way to the Hedwig who’s been our guide through this story. It’s also, notably, the only song in Hedwig not performed in front of an audience of at least one, the only song that departs from the real-world construct of live performance and gives into the fantasy construct of movie musicals. This is the moment when Hedwig finds a way to disengage from her past by diving into fantasy, and when Hedwig dances on the line separating live theater and film.”

Our Movie Of The Week discussion of John Cameron Mitchell’s singular glam-rock musical Hedwig And The Angry Inch kicks off with Genevieve Koski’s Keynote on how the film manages the divide between its theatrical origins and cinematic ambition. [Read more…]

Filed under film movie of the week hedwig and the angry inch john cameron mitchell hedwig movie musicals musicals gif wig in a box

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“Don’t focus too much on this idea that your influences will be similar to people whose films you admire. In fact, it’s really the opposite: You like people who are doing something completely different, and it’s very relaxing to you because they’re dealing with all kinds of problems you don’t have to deal with.”

Whit Stillman, director of the comedies-of-manners Metropolitan, Barcelona, and The Last Days Of Disco, and the new TV pilot The Cosmopolitans, talks about why Alfred Hitchcock’s Young & Innocent is a stunning, favorite piece of cinema, how it incriminates the audience and makes viewers feel like they need to clear their names, and why what he loves doesn’t necessarily reflect his own work. [Full interview here.]

“Don’t focus too much on this idea that your influences will be similar to people whose films you admire. In fact, it’s really the opposite: You like people who are doing something completely different, and it’s very relaxing to you because they’re dealing with all kinds of problems you don’t have to deal with.”

Whit Stillman, director of the comedies-of-manners Metropolitan, Barcelona, and The Last Days Of Disco, and the new TV pilot The Cosmopolitans, talks about why Alfred Hitchcock’s Young & Innocent is a stunning, favorite piece of cinema, how it incriminates the audience and makes viewers feel like they need to clear their names, and why what he loves doesn’t necessarily reflect his own work. [Full interview here.]

Filed under film whit stillman alfred hitchcock young & innocent 1930s cinema interview gif

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New review roundup [8.21.14]
Keith Phipps on If I Stay: “…Remove the supernatural elements, and there’s little to make the story compelling. It’s essentially another nice-girl/bad-boy (but not really bad) romance with a few expected ups and downs, and little of the chemistry needed to bring it to life.” [Read more…]
Noel Murray on The Possession of Michael King: “Jung’s decision to structure [the movie] as a found-footage film works against it, as the sprinkling of shock-cuts and bursts of visual and aural distortion early in the film become predictably incessant in the final half-hour, since there aren’t too many other directions for a horror mockumentary to go.” [Read more…]
Scott Tobias on When The Game Stands Tall: “And while discipline and self-control certainly figure into Ladouceur’s teachings, there’s also a passion and drive absent from Caviezel’s performance. It’s not that the film needs any more goosing—it’s broad and shameless even by inspirational-sports-movie standards—but its basic lack of plausibility starts with him.” [Read more…]
Nathan Rabin on Kink: “[It’s] cerebral enough to see its subject largely through a semi-academic lens of feminist and queer empowerment, but not to the point where it ceases to be at least a little bit sexy, since arousal appears to be part of Kink’s business model as well.” [Read more…]
David Ehrlich on Cam2Cam: “The hilariously forced web-speak is just the most amusing example of how Cam2Cam feels outdated in its own time. Its supposedly percipient musings on modern love clash with the unshakeable feeling that the film feels like a relic unearthed from a high-school hard drive.” [Read more…]
Also this week: John Lithgow and Alfred Molina star in the **Essential** Love Is Strange, Matthew Weiner misfires in his directorial debut Are You Here, the occasionally-revealing To Be Takei focuses on the life and career of George Takei, and the irrelevant Jersey Shore Massacredoubles down on its awful source material.

New review roundup [8.21.14]

  • Keith Phipps on If I Stay: “…Remove the supernatural elements, and there’s little to make the story compelling. It’s essentially another nice-girl/bad-boy (but not really bad) romance with a few expected ups and downs, and little of the chemistry needed to bring it to life.” [Read more…]
  • Noel Murray on The Possession of Michael King: “Jung’s decision to structure [the movie] as a found-footage film works against it, as the sprinkling of shock-cuts and bursts of visual and aural distortion early in the film become predictably incessant in the final half-hour, since there aren’t too many other directions for a horror mockumentary to go.” [Read more…]
  • Scott Tobias on When The Game Stands Tall: “And while discipline and self-control certainly figure into Ladouceur’s teachings, there’s also a passion and drive absent from Caviezel’s performance. It’s not that the film needs any more goosing—it’s broad and shameless even by inspirational-sports-movie standards—but its basic lack of plausibility starts with him.” [Read more…]
  • Nathan Rabin on Kink: “[It’s] cerebral enough to see its subject largely through a semi-academic lens of feminist and queer empowerment, but not to the point where it ceases to be at least a little bit sexy, since arousal appears to be part of Kink’s business model as well.” [Read more…]
  • David Ehrlich on Cam2Cam: “The hilariously forced web-speak is just the most amusing example of how Cam2Cam feels outdated in its own time. Its supposedly percipient musings on modern love clash with the unshakeable feeling that the film feels like a relic unearthed from a high-school hard drive.” [Read more…]

Also this week: John Lithgow and Alfred Molina star in the **Essential** Love Is Strange, Matthew Weiner misfires in his directorial debut Are You Here, the occasionally-revealing To Be Takei focuses on the life and career of George Takei, and the irrelevant Jersey Shore Massacredoubles down on its awful source material.

Filed under film Film Review film review If I Stay The Possession of Michael King When The Game Stands Tall Kink Cam2Cam Love Is Strange Are You Here To Be Takei Jersey Shore Massacre

60 notes

Everyone knows the Saturday Night Live pedigree of films like Wayne’s World, Coneheads, and our Movie Of The Week, MacGruber. But did you know films like Office Space, Bob Roberts, and A Mighty Wind also have their origins in SNL? Today, our By The Numbers feature breaks down all 18 SNL-derived films. [Read more…]

Filed under film Saturday Night Live snl film movie of the week macgruber blues brothers wayne's world office space bob roberts a mighty wind charts and graphs by the numbers

55 notes


“In addition to being one of the most notorious scenes in the Star Trek franchise’s history, the campout in The Final Frontier—which ends with Kirk, Spock, and McCoy attempting to sing “Row Row Row Your Boat”—inspired one of the damnedest pieces of cross-promotion. Right before Kirk and company start to sing, bombed on bourbon-beans, Spock pulls out a futuristic device to dispense what he calls “marsh melons,” to be roasted over the fire, just as he’s seen in his computer records about camping. When Star Trek V came out, Kraft offered a plastic replica of Spock’s dispenser, for any Trekkie who mailed in a proof-of-purchase from a bag of Jet-Puffed marshmallows.”

This month’s Adventures In Licensing looks at one of the most dubious pieces of movie cross-promotion—the Star Trek V: The Final Frontier Kraft Marshmallow Dispenser—and asks, “why?” [Read more…]

“In addition to being one of the most notorious scenes in the Star Trek franchise’s history, the campout in The Final Frontier—which ends with Kirk, Spock, and McCoy attempting to sing “Row Row Row Your Boat”—inspired one of the damnedest pieces of cross-promotion. Right before Kirk and company start to sing, bombed on bourbon-beans, Spock pulls out a futuristic device to dispense what he calls “marsh melons,” to be roasted over the fire, just as he’s seen in his computer records about camping. When Star Trek V came out, Kraft offered a plastic replica of Spock’s dispenser, for any Trekkie who mailed in a proof-of-purchase from a bag of Jet-Puffed marshmallows.”

This month’s Adventures In Licensing looks at one of the most dubious pieces of movie cross-promotion—the Star Trek V: The Final Frontier Kraft Marshmallow Dispenser—and asks, “why?” [Read more…]

Filed under film star trek star trek v the final frontier movie marketing toys marshmallows spock gif

42 notes

“To MacGruber partisans, the film’s unfathomable origins were a significant part of its charm. In a world where seemingly every decision in Hollywood is motivated purely by its impact on the bottom line, MacGruber stands out by defying every rational commercial impulse. No studio executive alive (or at least employed) would request a soundtrack with so much terrible 1980s music, or a hero this shallow and despicable. Whatever your personal opinion of it, it’s hard to dispute that Taccone’s direction, Forte’s performance, a wildly unpredictable script, and a general go-for-broke attitude all make MacGruber unique. Good or bad, it’s no factory product.”

Our Movie Of The Week coverage of MacGruber kicks off with Matt Singer’s Keynote essay on how the very qualities that made the film a massive box-office failure have contributed to its reconsideration as a cult film in the making. Classic MacGruber. [Read more…]

Filed under film macgruber film comedy will forte jorma taccone Saturday Night Live let the throat ripping begin turkey classic macgruber gif

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DVD/VOD review roundup [8.18.14]
Noel Murray on Y Tu Mama Tambien: “The main characteristic of [the film]…is its immediacy and bluntness, which makes its scenes intensely involving in the moment, and then more profound as they play out later in memory.” [Read more…] **Essential Retro**
Scott Tobias on Love Streams: “It’s tempting to say there’s method to his madness, but really the reverse is true: Madness is the method, and Cassavetes films like Love Streams are as much found as made, the result of a messy process of discovery.” [Read more…] **Essential Retro**
Nathan Rabin on Leviathan: “Today, [it] looks less like an underachieving A-movie with a bunch of talented craftsmen working well below their level than a slightly overachieving B-movie that borrows shamelessly but effectively from a smorgasbord of science-fiction and horror classics.” [Read more…]
Andrew Lapin on We Are Mari Pepa: “Though the unchecked obscenities and obsessions with sisters and mothers will no doubt ring true to current and former teenage boys, there’s something about watching these guys hoot so loud that feels icky in a ‘that’s what we looked like?’ kind of way.” [Read more…]  

DVD/VOD review roundup [8.18.14]

  • Noel Murray on Y Tu Mama Tambien: “The main characteristic of [the film]…is its immediacy and bluntness, which makes its scenes intensely involving in the moment, and then more profound as they play out later in memory.” [Read more…] **Essential Retro**
  • Scott Tobias on Love Streams: “It’s tempting to say there’s method to his madness, but really the reverse is true: Madness is the method, and Cassavetes films like Love Streams are as much found as made, the result of a messy process of discovery.” [Read more…**Essential Retro**
  • Nathan Rabin on Leviathan: “Today, [it] looks less like an underachieving A-movie with a bunch of talented craftsmen working well below their level than a slightly overachieving B-movie that borrows shamelessly but effectively from a smorgasbord of science-fiction and horror classics.” [Read more…]
  • Andrew Lapin on We Are Mari Pepa: “Though the unchecked obscenities and obsessions with sisters and mothers will no doubt ring true to current and former teenage boys, there’s something about watching these guys hoot so loud that feels icky in a ‘that’s what we looked like?’ kind of way.” [Read more…]  

Filed under film film review Film Review Y Tu Mama Tambien Love Streams Leviathan We Are Mari Pepa blu-ray review criterion

75 notes

You get a little buzz when you see somebody’s retweeted you, or commented on you, or talked about you on social media. Then that buzz goes away, and you want a little more the next time, so you start checking your phone more, and you become addicted to that kind of attention, and you mistake it for presence in the world, and you can live this strange double life, which Jon [Domhnall Gleeson] lives. His social-media avatar is a very different creature than the person we see so much of in the film. It felt like it was timely, because I don’t think that issue of social-media self-presentation has really found its way into mainstream film yet.
Frank director Lenny Abrahamson talks about his film’s approach to social media, rock ‘n’ roll, mental illness, and the intersection of all three. Read the full interview

Filed under film filmmakers directors filmmaking frank lenny abrahamson

63 notes


“[Robin] Williams’ filmography is littered with the forgettable (The Big Wedding) and the regrettable (Old Dogs). He had a habit of using his skills as a crutch, as in a painful improv sequence in the 2006 comedyRV that found him busting out a decades-out-of-date b-boy impression, or relying on a wistful man-child twinkle (e.g. Hook). But it’s impossible to imagine anyone else playing Williams’ best roles, and The Fisher King easily ranks among them. I’m not sure that’s why it was the first Williams movie I thought of after hearing about his death, however. It’s often unwise and irrelevant to connect actors to the roles they play, and yet something about Williams’ suicide has invited it. He often played men struggling with darkness, sometimes without success, frequently men who used verbal agility and unbridled energy as weapons in the fight. Few movies put that struggle to the fore as prominently as The Fisher King.”

Keith Phipps takes a look at one of Robin Williams’ finest performances, which found him learning to shrug off the expectations of “genius” and reconcile his talents as a comedian to more dramatic work. [Read more…]

“[Robin] Williams’ filmography is littered with the forgettable (The Big Wedding) and the regrettable (Old Dogs). He had a habit of using his skills as a crutch, as in a painful improv sequence in the 2006 comedyRV that found him busting out a decades-out-of-date b-boy impressionor relying on a wistful man-child twinkle (e.g. Hook). But it’s impossible to imagine anyone else playing Williams’ best roles, and The Fisher King easily ranks among them. I’m not sure that’s why it was the first Williams movie I thought of after hearing about his death, however. It’s often unwise and irrelevant to connect actors to the roles they play, and yet something about Williams’ suicide has invited it. He often played men struggling with darkness, sometimes without success, frequently men who used verbal agility and unbridled energy as weapons in the fight. Few movies put that struggle to the fore as prominently as The Fisher King.”

Keith Phipps takes a look at one of Robin Williams’ finest performances, which found him learning to shrug off the expectations of “genius” and reconcile his talents as a comedian to more dramatic work. [Read more…]

Filed under film Robin Williams the fisher king terry gilliam actors acting gif

16 notes

“But there was one Soviet film that could stand proudly next to America’s greatest testosterone-fests: 1986’s Одиночное Плавание, known in English variously as Solo VoyageSolo JourneyIndependent Steaming, or The Detached Mission, written by Yevgeni Mesyatsev and directed by Mikhail Tumanishvili. This film, billed abroad as “the Russian Rambo,” is a fascinating Soviet attempt to create the same kind of action-adventure the United States was churning out at an alarming rate in the 1980s. It also represented the last gasp of a certain type of Soviet cinema that was extinct within months of the film’s release. Seen today, the bloodthirsty, greedy Americans of The Detached Mission’s mirror-world give some sense of what characters like Rocky IV’s Ivan Drago might feel like to a Russian. And it’s hilarious.”

Matthew Dessem looks back at “The Russian Rambo,” to explore what the misbegotten film says about Soviets’ perceptions of Americans, and of themselves. [Read more…]

Filed under film foreign film soviet film soviet union rambo Russian Rambo