Brow Beat

The Dissolve Is Folding. Here Are Its Best Movie Reviews and Essays.

Screenshot of the Dissolve's homepage.
The Dissolve’s homepage

Proving that only the good die young, Pitchfork’s movie site the Dissolve, which launched just two years ago, has announced its end. The site’s founder and editorial director, Keith Phipps, revealed that the Chicago-based online magazine will be shutting down in a post this morning, citing “the various challenges inherent in launching a freestanding website in a crowded publishing environment, financial and otherwise” as reasons for its closure.

The Dissolve will be missed for its reviews, Movie of the Week picks, and series like Forgotbusters, which examined once-popular movies that have since faded from memory. Two years ago, Slate spoke to Phipps about the site and helped celebrate its launch. Now, after the news of the site’s demise, Slate staffers commemorate it by choosing their favorite Dissolve pieces.


The Gross Fluids and Clean Fluidity of Spirited Away” by Tasha Robinson
This smart essay by Tasha Robinson about the “wetness” of Spirited Away is such a great way to watch and think about this amazing movie. —Dan Kois, culture editor

The American Sniper Controversy Proves Film Critics Matter” by Keith Phipps
Sometimes, a movie just needs to be a movie more than a bipartisan talking point, and that’s what Phipps gets at so eloquently in this piece—that those wrestling with American Sniper on its own terms (aesthetically, formally, performance-wise) were doing the truly thoughtful and meaningful work. —Aisha Harris, staff writer

Review of Birdman by Scott Tobias
A clear-eyed and utterly devastating takedown of the most overrated movie in recent years. Tobias’ review isn’t just a pan, it’s a swift and precise autopsy of artistic fraudulence. —Jack Hamilton, pop critic


This Is the Part Where I Defend Me And Earl And The Dying Girl” by David Ehrlich
A fierce and personal piece about a movie that too many critics dismissed as glib. —Dan Kois, culture editor

With Jack, Coppola Gave Robin Williams His Sentimental Nadir” by Nathan Rabin
Rabin, who is our greatest living chronicler of the history of terrible and mediocre films, is at his cutting and hysterical best. —Jeremy Stahl, senior editor


The Age Of Innocence Is Unmistakably Scorsese, With Gossip Instead of Guns” by Scott Tobias
There’s no better example of Dissolve’s Departures series than Tobias’ spot-on analysis of how a period romance fits into Scorsese’s repertoire of gangster films. —Marissa Visci, culture intern


It’s Time to Stop Freaking out About Movies We Haven’t Seen” by Tasha Robinson
On outrage about movies that haven’t even come out yet. —Dan Kois, culture editor

The 30 Best American Independent Horror Films
An Internet-baiting listicle as only the Dissolve could deliver it—informative, fun, cleverly argued, and not above throwing a few bombs (Sleepaway Camp?). Most tellingly, the list was the culmination of a full month of essays on its selections: the most-despised great horror movie, the movie that pushed horror-comedy over the edge, and so on. There was no forum quite like Dissolve to dust off provocative movies and get into spirited arguments about them all over again. —Jeffrey Bloomer, associate editor