When word got out that a group of Chicago-based writers were coming together to start a website devoted to film, critic James Rocchi quipped that it was “like seeing a unicorn at a Safeway.” Five weeks later, we’ve got our unicorn, and it’s a beaut.
Writing about The Dissolve is going to require some disclosure on my part, so here goes: I’ve worked with founding staffers Keith Phipps, Scott Tobias, Tasha Robinson, Nathan Rabin, Noel Murray and Genevieve Koski for years during their tenure at The A.V. Club, and Matt Singer, who later joined as the site’s first news editor, founded this blog. I’ll also be contributing to The Dissolve on an ongoing basis, including a weekly feature called Upstream, focusing on movies exclusive to the streaming world — sort of a repertory film column for the post-rep era. I’ve shared drinks, and sometimes hotel rooms, with them, and admired their writing from afar well before I was lucky enough to work with them.
There’s no way to write about The Dissolve without raising the specter, or the very real possibility, of a conflict of interest. But there’s also no way a site devoted to the practice of criticism can ignore a publication so palpably informed by the knowledgable love of movies. So I won’t, and if conflicts arise, I’ll do my best to manage them with an open mind and even hand, knowing full well that if I cross the line someone will pop into the comments section to call me on it.
Though the staff has been stockpiling articles for weeks, they’ve only scratched the surface. A glance at editor-in-chief Keith Phipps’ “User’s Guide” gives tantalizing glimpses of what’s to come: Movie of the Week, which “shines a spotlight on a film of our choosing,” including a back-and-forth between writers and readers; editor Scott Tobias’ column, “Departures,” which kicks off with Martin Scorsese’s atypical The Age of Innocence; Noel Murray’s “Interdisciplinary,” which profiles filmmakers’ other careers; “Performance Review,” where Mike D’Angelo looks at at great acting unrecognized in its day. Oh, and “Emerging,” an interview series focused on rising talents, that starts with this.
There’s much more to come, but one good place to start is The Dissolve’s summer roundup, which ropes in the site’s staff writers for a group discussion of Iron Man Three, Before Midnight and many others. Here’s Murray on The Great Gatsby:
Admitting to liking Baz Luhrmann’s movies is like admitting to enjoying ice cream, disco, and hot-oil massages all at the same time. Luhrmann’s whole modus operandi is overstimulation, and there’s something mildly shameful about letting him get away with dazzling viewers into submission with his blasts of glittery confetti. But damn it, pleasure is pleasure, and while I have very little memory of Luhrmann elucidating the deeper themes of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s American classic The Great Gatsby, I can’t forget how shiny the movie looks, or deny how giddy that shininess made me feel during the wild party scenes at the Long Island mansion belonging to the mysterious Gatsby.
Continue at leisure, and enjoy this oddball’s contributor’s sketch when you’re done.