I’m not sure why it took Pitchfork so longer to enter the film criticism realm, but taking its time may have been wise. Last week, The Dissolve finally launched, and it features a murderer’s row of cinema heavyweights: Keith Phipps, Scott Tobias, Nathan Rabin, Tasha Robinson, Matt Singer. These are some of my favorites, and the site that has brought them together, Avengers-style, is—so far, at least—a treat.
For example, check out the “Departures” column, explained thusly: “Departures looks at films by talents who defied expectations and tried something different. Are these films true anomalies, or not quite the left turns they appear to be?”
That’s a great idea, and Tobias’s first pick, Martin Scorsese’s “The Age of Innocence,” is an ideal selection:
“It’s hard to compare the New York of ‘The Age of Innocence’ to the savage criminal underworlds of Scorseseland a century later, but only because the kills here don’t stain the hardwood. But Newland is rubbed out just as surely as the pileup of gangsters in ‘Goodfellas’—to a point, he’s responsible for pulling the trigger—and for the same reason: With the world outside threatening change, the mobs in both films have to close rank to survive.”
“Innocence” is, I think one of Scorsese’s least best films, and is deserving of such a close analysis. If this is where The Dissolve is going, I applaud it.
Or consider the column “Performance Review,” in which “each entry focuses on a specific category in a given year, in several different awards ceremonies, in an effort to determine the year’s most criminally overlooked performances. First stop: Bes Supporting Actor, 1991.
I love Mike D’Angelo’s appreciation of Samuel L. Jackson’s un-nominated—by Oscar—role as Gator in Spike Lee’s “Jungle Fever”; he was honored by the New York Film Critics Circle:
“[I]n his final confrontation with his father, his act of defiance takes the form of a silent, murderous hate-shimmy that conveys far more contempt than words ever could. It’s chilling to behold. One year earlier, Jackson was still playing roles like ‘Taxi Dispatcher’ in films like ‘Betsy’s Wedding’; Gator changed that, and it’s no surprise it was the New York critics who acknowledged it.”
The Dissolve seems a worthy entry in the crowded field of online movie criticism, and it will be interesting to watch it develop.
And the rest:
- “Eyes Wide Shut” opened on July 16, 1999. To commemorate, The Film Stage offers a doc on symbolism in Kubrick’s swan song.
- “Only God Forgives finally opens this Friday, and I am having an internal debate: theater, or home? Chances are I’ll opt for VOD. I’m very much looking forward to it, although it’s difficult not to go in expecting a major letdown. Here is one of the more interesting reviews I’ve come across so far.
- A Tweet about the ending of Jeff Nichols’ “Take Shelter” led me to this nice analysis of that film’s mysterious and controversial ending.
- Two must-see trailers: The latest American preview for Wong Kar-wai’s “The Grandmaster,” and the first look at Spike Lee’s “Oldboy.” I did not spot a squid.
- The great Indiewire is 15. Take a look at its “first issue.” Author Irvine Welsh made an appearance: “According to a story in this week’s issue of _New Yorker Magazine_ (July 15, 1996) the novelist who wrote TRAINSPOTTING spent a night in jail following ‘a recent four-day binge’ which featured ‘everything—everything you can imagine.’”
- David Cronenberg’s latest has begun filming. “Map to the Stars” John Cusack, Julianne Moore, Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, Olivia Williams, and Sarah Gadon.
- The unrealized projects of Alan Resnais.
- Guess what? Only 50 days until TIFF.
“The Age of Innocence” still is from a TIFF retrospective of the film