Although we’ve fairly easy critics (especially when it comes to trash cinema) & have reviewed hundred of films since we first launched in January, it’s been interesting to see how few & how disparate our selections have been that exceed a four star rating. Over the last eight months we’ve given only two dozen films a rating of 4.5 of 5 stars, and they’re as wildly varied as a mindless 80s slasher flick, a Paul Rudd superhero movie, a pro wrestling action comedy starring famous monsters, and a Björk concert film. We’re turning out to be a wildly goofy & oddly dissonant bunch and it’s starting to show in the movies we profess our love for.
In light of this growing list of targets for our critical gushing, we’ve begun to collect our reviews that exceed a four star rating on a page we’re calling The Swampflix Canon. All 24 reviews that have met this one criteria so far are listed in alphabetical order on the new page for easy access & I’m certain more will be added shortly. If you’re interested in a starting point for where to dive in, here’s the list of the nine titles that we have awarded a five star rating so far: Beyond the Black Rainbow, The Duke of Burgundy, Monster Brawl, Paris Is Burning, Peeping Tom, Pieces, Possession, Profondo rosso (aka Deep Red), and What We Do in the Shadows. The rest of the list can be found here.
As always, Enjoy!
I’m going to try to keep this brief in fear that if I ramble on I’ll gush & blubber. The only website I care about has ceased to be. Roger Ebert’s website is what prompted me to start reading about film in an obsessive way, but The Dissolve is what inspired me to start writing on a daily basis, something I hadn’t done in years. When I first started reading their reviews & articles, I was more or less a casual observer of immense floods of schlock. The site’s writers & its unusually friendly comment community expanded my viewing habits & encouraged me to take part in the game as an active participant. I don’t pretend to be an especially essential writer or a critic (we’re still figuring out exactly what we’re doing here in a lot of ways), but I do owe the push to get started to The Dissolve’s staff & its readers. I literally do not know what to do with myself now that Ebert has passed & The Dissolve has disbanded. This is what it must’ve felt like to live through the end of The Beatles.
For now, I encourage the unitiated to look back through the incredible work the website managed to accomplish in its all-too-brief two year run. Their Movie of the Week articles provided an invaluable structure for the Movie of the Month conversations we hold here. Their Essential Films tag is an incredibly diverse list of must-see movies released in recent years, both newer films that reached the cinema & older titles on home video. Featured articles such as this look at feminist themes in the vampire genre & the strange ways female pleasure is depicted in Magic Mike XXL are indispensable reminders that non-clickbait film writing is still out there, even if it’s sadly not sustainable. Their Dissolve Canon lists like the 30 Best American Indie Horror Films & The 50 Greatest Summer Blockbusters were incredibly well-curated collections that we will all be poorer to not see expand. They also have an incredible wealth of pieces written by Nathan Rabin, who is, hands down, my favorite living critic. I could go on.
It’s highly likely that these articles will be preserved for posterity indefinitely, but it’s still worthwhile to give them a look just in case the site eventually disappears completely. I owe a lot to The Dissolve & I’m deeply sad to see it go, but it’s honestly incredible that something so perfect lasted as long as it did. It’s a great loss, but what remains is a solid collection of work worth celebrating just as much as it’s worth mourning. I look forward to following the site’s writers to wherever they land next (a lot of the community has already migrated to a related site called The Solute), but I doubt they’ll ever find such an incredibly perfect oasis again. The Dissolve was truly something special & it will undoubtedly be missed.