I just got home from attending a two-week criticism institute, wherein I was one of 14 working arts journalists, aged twentysomething to fiftysomething, to benefit from the instruction of critics for The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, The Guardian, and other influential publications. That’s where I was on Wednesday morning when I got a mass e-mail from Scott Tobias indicating that The Dissolve was shutting down, effective immediately. In its two years of life, that site had firmly established itself as the best place on the web to find smart, enthusiastic, formally inventive writing about movies new and old, famous and obscure. I’d declined a review assignment from Scott only days before, citing my wall-to-wall schedule during the institute.
Scott’s e-mail came just as I was heading into a session on restaurant reviewing conducted by Sam Sifton, the Times’ food editor. I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder about food coverage. I don’t usually read it, and I often find it precious and/or pretentious when I do. To me at least, it’s obvious that food is not art. Yes, it’s an important component of culture. Yes, cooking is an admirable skill. But a meal cannot express emotion. An entree cannot communicate an idea. There are sad songs and sad paintings, but there are no sad foods, unless you’re buying your dinner at a 7-Eleven. Continue reading
Posted in movies, relfection
Tagged food writing, JINN, Keith Phipps, Neill Blomkamp, PG-13, rants, Robert Simonson, Sam Sifton, Scott Tobias, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The Dissolve, The New York Times
I like Michael Mann and I love Heat in particular, and I love Wes Anderson. But 7 Minutes, a nicely-shot hybrid of Heat and Bottle Rocket, Anderson’s debut, is less than the sum of its influences. I reviewed it for The Dissolve.
I reviewed a movie called Dawn Patrol for The Dissolve. Not the Howard Hawks one from 1930. Or its Errol Flynn-Basil Rathbone-David Niven-starring remake from 1938. This one is a grimy little indie revenge drama that was shot two years ago in Ventura and Oxnard, Calif., the beautiful seaside region where I lived for four-and-a-half years in the very early aughts. It was directed by the writer of Beverly Hills Cop and stars Clint Eastwoodson, better known to the world as Scott Eastwood. Here’s the review.
My review of (Dis)honesty: The Truth About Lies, a new documentary based on the research of “behavioral economist” Dan Airely, is up on The Dissolve today.
In perhaps the strangest milestone of my I-guess-you-could-call-it-a-career, The Dissolve has adapted an essay of mine that they published back in December into a very clever two-and-a-half-minute animated short. Keith Phipps, who edited the original essay, wrote the script.
I’m honored. The original piece is here. Please note that it cites Guardians of the Galaxy as the top-grossing picture of 2014 in the U.S., which it was at the time of publication; Guardians was subsequently out-earned by The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 and American Sniper. Anyway, my thanks to Keith and to animators Mack Williams and Benji Williams and their team for doing such a beautiful job with this. I’ve embedded the video above, but please go watch it on The Dissolve, where it’s accompanied by a behind-the-scenes video wherein Mack Williams pulls back the curtain on how he turned a script into a cartoon.
I was honored to be invited to join Tasha Robinson and Keith Phipps to discuss The State of Science Fiction in the movies on this week’s episode of The Dissolve podcast. The also includes a discussion of documentaries and is thus named for a Werner Herzog phrase I love. A lot of ums from me, a lot of insight from Tasha and Keith. Listen here.
Run All Night, the latest bloody genuflection in the Stations of the Cross of Liam Neeson, isn’t great, just better than you think. With its steaming manhole covers and rumbling el trains, its fatherly lessons administered in the sweaty confines of a boxing gym, and its pervasive air of grim fatalism, it reminded me of Frank Miller’s noir-inflected early 80s run on the Marvel comic Daredevil – which has already been adapted into two crappy movies, and it about to become a Netflix series. Continue reading