The Dissolve

A playground for movie lovers

62 notes

“As [American Psycho] progresses, its grasp on reality becomes even more tenuous. A chainsaw dropped several stories down a stairwell happens to land perfectly on a fleeing victim, killing her. An ATM orders Bateman to feed it a stray cat. Bateman shoots at a police car, and it promptly explodes; in that moment, even he looks disbelievingly at his gun. These all seem like the daydreams of an increasingly disturbed man, one who isn’t even bothering to fit his fantasies into the real world anymore.”

Tasha Robinson continues our Movie Of The Week discussion of American Psycho with a look at the film’s slippery grasp of reality, and how its ambiguity about what’s real and what isn’t is more interesting than definitive answers. [Read more…]

Filed under film american psycho patrick bateman mary harron bret easton ellis authorial intent ambiguity

32 notes


“I don’t know how much American pop culture’s gender issues have affected my daughter. We’ve never tried to impose anything on her in that regard, either in terms of forcing her into dresses or forcing her toward gender-neutrality. She has “girly” toys and clothes, and she has her tomboy side. She’s just herself, mostly. And she likes Lego more than our son, because she’s a crafty individual in general. Cady Gray knits, sews, draws, does origami, and builds with blocks. As we assemble Wyldstyle, she doesn’t show any more interest in that character than she does in Emmet, aside from pointing out when I grab the wrong set of legs for her. (“Wyldstyle has a stripe on her pants, Dad.”) She digs through the bags with a little smile on her face, telling me, “Okay, we need this little bobby, and this little bibby.” At this age, she’s still more interested in the fantasy world she’s constructing than she is in what it’s trying to sell to her.”

For this month’s Adventures In Licensing, Noel Murray assembled the Cloud Cuckoo Palace playset from The Lego Movie with his 9-year-old daughter.He discovered the tie-in product reveals much about its inspiration, and the way we play. [Read more…]

“I don’t know how much American pop culture’s gender issues have affected my daughter. We’ve never tried to impose anything on her in that regard, either in terms of forcing her into dresses or forcing her toward gender-neutrality. She has “girly” toys and clothes, and she has her tomboy side. She’s just herself, mostly. And she likes Lego more than our son, because she’s a crafty individual in general. Cady Gray knits, sews, draws, does origami, and builds with blocks. As we assemble Wyldstyle, she doesn’t show any more interest in that character than she does in Emmet, aside from pointing out when I grab the wrong set of legs for her. (“Wyldstyle has a stripe on her pants, Dad.”) She digs through the bags with a little smile on her face, telling me, “Okay, we need this little bobby, and this little bibby.” At this age, she’s still more interested in the fantasy world she’s constructing than she is in what it’s trying to sell to her.”

For this month’s Adventures In Licensing, Noel Murray assembled the Cloud Cuckoo Palace playset from The Lego Movie with his 9-year-old daughter.He discovered the tie-in product reveals much about its inspiration, and the way we play. [Read more…]

Filed under film The Lego Movie movie merchandise lego

90 notes


“Though Bateman narrates the film, American Psycho’s masterfully sustained tone of chilly detachment makes it all but impossible to see the world through his eyes. Bateman is a stranger, a phantom even to himself. His gleaming apartment is not a home for a human being to live in so much as an antiseptic museum of contemporary horrors, with the sentient wax figure of Patrick Bateman as its primary exhibit. The film pins Bateman against the wall like a hunting trophy.”

Our Movie Of The Week is Mary Harron’s adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ novel American Psycho. Nathan Rabin kicks things off with his Keynote about how Harron’s film succeeds by standing outside the world of its monstrous main character. [Read more…]

“Though Bateman narrates the film, American Psycho’s masterfully sustained tone of chilly detachment makes it all but impossible to see the world through his eyes. Bateman is a stranger, a phantom even to himself. His gleaming apartment is not a home for a human being to live in so much as an antiseptic museum of contemporary horrors, with the sentient wax figure of Patrick Bateman as its primary exhibit. The film pins Bateman against the wall like a hunting trophy.”

Our Movie Of The Week is Mary Harron’s adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ novel American Psycho. Nathan Rabin kicks things off with his Keynote about how Harron’s film succeeds by standing outside the world of its monstrous main character. [Read more…]

Filed under film american psycho movie of the week mary harron bret easton ellis patrick bateman

5 notes


“Not every dog can be a star, but in all candor, I thought ours was a sure thing. She’s a 5-month-old Boston Terrier, and by general neighborhood acclaim, adorable. Because she had what we perhaps mistakenly anthropomorphized as a wry disposition (and because we’d been re-watching the Bond movies), my wife named her Moneypenny, which she usually responds to. She quickly learned several tricks: “sit,” “down,” and “roll over,” although due to a sensible distaste for cold floors, she’ll only perform them on carpeting. But that seemed like a relatively minor demand from a star. I would describe her as mostly housebroken, which—if Peter Biskind is to be believed—put her ahead of Faye Dunaway. Above all, she had youth and beauty, and youth and beauty trump bad behavior every time.”

Matthew Dessem and his charming puppy chased big-screen canine stardom; this is what they found. [Read more…]
Illustration by Joy Burke.

“Not every dog can be a star, but in all candor, I thought ours was a sure thing. She’s a 5-month-old Boston Terrier, and by general neighborhood acclaim, adorable. Because she had what we perhaps mistakenly anthropomorphized as a wry disposition (and because we’d been re-watching the Bond movies), my wife named her Moneypenny, which she usually responds to. She quickly learned several tricks: “sit,” “down,” and “roll over,” although due to a sensible distaste for cold floors, she’ll only perform them on carpeting. But that seemed like a relatively minor demand from a star. I would describe her as mostly housebroken, which—if Peter Biskind is to be believed—put her ahead of Faye Dunaway. Above all, she had youth and beauty, and youth and beauty trump bad behavior every time.”

Matthew Dessem and his charming puppy chased big-screen canine stardom; this is what they found. [Read more…]

Illustration by Joy Burke.

Filed under film hollywood dogs puppy boston terrier

12 notes

“In School Daze’s first and most audacious production number, the dark-skinned women affiliated with Dap and his nationalists square off against Dean Big Brother Almighty’s girlfriend, Jane Toussaint (Tisha Campbell-Martin), and her light-skinned minions in the Gamma Rays, the Gammas’ female auxiliary. The ensuing production number, set at a hair salon, represents an academic treatise on the infinite permutations and complexities of black identity, re-imagined as a razzle-dazzle, Busby Berkeley-style musical number—albeit one with women calling each other “Jigaboos” and “Wannabes” in a song that grows more vicious with every verse. It’s a high-wire cultural mash-up between the art and culture of black rage and the overwhelmingly white world of classic musicals. It’s a production number so audacious and so recklessly, righteously brazen that it’s astonishing it made it into a studio movie in 1988.”

In this week’s Encore column, Nathan Rabin looks at Spike Lee’s follow-up to his breakout film, She’s Gotta Have It, a debut that indicated a career making sexy comedies. But with School Daze, Lee indicated he had a lot more on his mind. [Read more…]

Filed under film filmmakers directors spike lee school daze she's gotta have it good and bad hair

50 notes


“But the embodiment of all that is good about Popeye is [Shelley] Duvall’s Olive Oyl, who only needs the big shoes and the ornate headdress to look exactly how E.C. Segar imagined her in 1919. Tall, thin, and angular, with saucer eyes, full lips, jet-black hair, and a distinctly breathy tone of voice, Duvall was a symbol of the rebel 1970s in that she didn’t fall within the narrow spectrum of what a movie-star should look or sound like. As many have said, she was “born” to play Olive Oyl, but it’s a real performance, too, flighty and distracted, yet sweet to the core, with perfect little “oooooo” sounds whenever there’s trouble (she’s like a Marge Simpson precursor) and a moony romanticism that carries the spirit of the whole production. Her rendition of Harry Nilsson’s “He Needs Me” resurfaced to great effect in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love—which owes much of its intoxicating mixture of violence, discord, and innocence to Altman’s film—but it stands on its own for its abrasive sweetness.”

In this month’s Departures, Scott Tobias offers a re-evaluation of the much-maligned Popeye, a big-budget, family-friendly musical adaptation that somehow fits snugly into director Robert Altman’s career. [Read more…]

“But the embodiment of all that is good about Popeye is [Shelley] Duvall’s Olive Oyl, who only needs the big shoes and the ornate headdress to look exactly how E.C. Segar imagined her in 1919. Tall, thin, and angular, with saucer eyes, full lips, jet-black hair, and a distinctly breathy tone of voice, Duvall was a symbol of the rebel 1970s in that she didn’t fall within the narrow spectrum of what a movie-star should look or sound like. As many have said, she was “born” to play Olive Oyl, but it’s a real performance, too, flighty and distracted, yet sweet to the core, with perfect little “oooooo” sounds whenever there’s trouble (she’s like a Marge Simpson precursor) and a moony romanticism that carries the spirit of the whole production. Her rendition of Harry Nilsson’s “He Needs Me” resurfaced to great effect in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love—which owes much of its intoxicating mixture of violence, discord, and innocence to Altman’s film—but it stands on its own for its abrasive sweetness.”

In this month’s Departures, Scott Tobias offers a re-evaluation of the much-maligned Popeye, a big-budget, family-friendly musical adaptation that somehow fits snugly into director Robert Altman’s career. [Read more…]

Filed under film robert altman Popeye shelley duvall olive oyl Robin Williams harry nilsson

5 notes

“The People Vs. George Lucas prominently features fan videos, tributes, and spoofs from acolytes so enraptured of the world Lucas created that they don’t just want to passively consume it, they want to be a part of it. The film suggests that, while Lucas created a wonderful, vast universe with Star Wars, after the rage induced by the “Special Edition” re-releases of the original trilogy and the introduction of Jar-Jar Binks into the canon, it would be best for him to step aside and let the generations inspired by his work take over.”

The disillusioned subjects of the 2010 documentary The People Vs. George Lucas wished for a Star Wars universe without George Lucas. Nathan Rabin asks what it means now that their wish has come true? [Read more…]

(Video: Wesley Willis performs “Jar Jar Binks”)

Filed under film star wars George Lucas the people vs. george lucas fandom the phantom menace jar jar binks wesley willis

62 notes

“Cher’s “debate” says absolutely nothing about her position on immigration reform, but it says everything about how she sees the world and her place in it: Any problem can be solved by a little effort and a lot of blind optimism. (The title writer-director Amy Heckerling originally had for the project, when she pitched it as a TV show, was even more apt than Clueless in this regard: No Worries.) Cher’s tiny universe is one of privilege so ingrained, she can’t even process it, one where the act of simply desiring something is enough to make it manifest. There’s no obstacle in Cher’s world that can’t be overcome through sheer force of will; it’ll work because she says it’ll work. Bad grades? That can be negotiated. Can’t parallel park? Don’t worry, everywhere you go has valet. Not 5-foot-10 like Cindy Crawford? Don’t drink that sucky Italian roast, you’ll get there. Cher knows best, even when she doesn’t. She’s a bimbo Buddha, completely at peace with her interpretation of life.”

Our Movie Of The Week is Amy Heckerling’s 1995 teen-girl touchstone Clueless. Genevieve Koski kicks us off with a Keynote on how Cher Horowitz’s boundless confidence and optimism sell the movie’s low stakes. [Read more…]

Filed under film clueless movie of the week amy heckerling high school movie cher horowitz alicia silverstone