The advancements of the internet over the last 20 years have allowed for a lot of things: easier consumerism (maybe too easy), the proliferation of independent media (music, web series, etc), lots and lots of porn. But the greatest boon of the digital age has been the connections that have been forged over the World Wide Web. We’re not just talking about online dating (or the more anonymous sex options), though that has certainly been a phenomenon worthy of review; we’re looking more at the smaller “geek” communities that have been able to find one another like never before. One of the groups that did not necessarily need the internet to bond was film nerds. Nevertheless, they have benefited greatly from the successes of the internet, specially in the form of The Dissolve – a website for film nerds, by film nerds.
The Dissolve is currently the best destination for well-considered, thoughtful pieces of film criticism, daily reviews and news updates. The site began as an interesting branch off of pop culture website The A.V. Club. In 2013 several of The A.V. Club’s high level editors and writers, including Keith Phipps, Scott Tobias, Nathan Rabin, Tasha Robinson and more began leaving the website to start a new venture in association with Pitchfork Media. That endeavor would be The Dissolve, and it would be a great escape for those who identify as cinephiles.
It’s not that The A.V. Club is a bad website – in fact, it should be your go-to destination for TV analysis – but it takes on so many different topics. With column covering television, music, movies, food, comics, books, news, and pretty much anything else, it is hard to get in-depth discussion of any particular topic outside of the comments sections, which can become overrun with inside jokes and negativity. The departing writers chose instead to focus on one particular medium: film.
The Dissolve is not just a film review website (though the reviews are both informative and interesting) – it’s a film appreciation website. All of the contributors are disturbingly well-informed on any aspect of film you can imagine, and anything that falls through their cracks can be picked up by any of the brilliant commenters who live in the welcoming environment that the editors have cultivated.
The best way to read The Dissolve is like a magazine, taking in all of the news, reviews, and features of the day (I look forward to the hopefully-inevitable Dissolve Quarterly, the type of project that is all the rage with websites in this supposedly post-paper era). The features are where the most impressive writing pops up. One of the best is the Movie of the Week; every week the staff picks a film to watch and discuss on the website, writing insightful pieces about the movies (recent picks have included Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low, the original RoboCop, and Fargo) that can often present brand new perspectives to the commenters.
All of this makes reading The Dissolve feel like being part of an exclusive club. A club full of intelligent, discerning members who can have a enlightened debate without sinking to childish insults. It is a safe haven for those fed up with the standards of internet interaction. And even though more views may throw off that sophisticated discourse, the quality of The Dissolve ought to earn it as many eyeballs as possible.