It’s one of the oldest cliches in film history: the sudden and untimely death of a mentor.
On Wednesday, the Dissolve announced that they will no longer be producing new content. (Today is the two-year anniversary of the site launching.) I initially resisted the impulse to write about it– partially because I was paralyzed by how really really fucking sad the news made me, but also because I didn’t feel like I had anything to add to the discussion. I was never an active member of the site; despite the praise for the civility of the Dissolve’s comments sections, I have a Pavlovian aversion to them, plus I never felt like anything I could have said would be smart or timely enough to warrant posting. I’m also not a film critic, so I don’t have any thoughts on what this means about the profession’s trajectory.
But even if I don’t have anything new or insightful to say about this sad event, I can say that the Dissolve had a huge impact on CPBS. I started writing this blog in part because I fantasized about being skilled enough to be part of the Dissolve, but at the same time, I wanted to focus on my interests and use my particular lens. I don’t think I’m in that league, but I will continue to use their work as an aspiration for my own, both in the quality of analysis and balance between academic and casual.
The Dissolve was, of course, part of my life outside of this blog. They were my go-to source for deciding which films were worth seeing in theaters– and many sincere thanks are due to them, especially Scott Tobias, for convincing me to see Under the Skin and Duke of Burgundy on the big screen, because those were not only two of the best cinematic experiences of my life, but both films that work for me on the level of cyphers for complicated and somewhat ineffable aspects of my life experience.
I have no doubt that the talented team behind the Dissolve will be on their feet and onto new projects very soon, and I look forward to following their work. In the meantime, I and many others will continue to run around in the backyard, playing at being Dissolve staff.
- Editor Scott Tobias’ acknowledgements on his personal tumblr
- Slate.com: The Dissolve Is Folding. Here Are Its Best Movie Reviews and Essays.
- Editors Keith Phipps and Scott Tobias on the End of The Dissolve and the Future of Film Criticism