All posts by Ron Swanson

About Ron Swanson

"Ron Swanson" is a pseudonym.

2013: Busting Blocks

by Ron Swanson

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2012: The year in which Batman, Marvel’s Avengers and James Bond broke box-office records (Skyfall is about to be the first film to ever pass the £100m box-office barrier in the UK, grossing almost as much as Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace combined).

2012: The year of Ted, The Hunger Games and The Woman in Black spawning new franchises as breakout hits,

2012: The year that the Twilight saga finally ended.

2013: What have you got? Let’s start with Marvel, whose Avengers Assemble movie last year was an enormous, genre-defining hit. They have two films slated for release in 2013, a pair of sequels: Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World. Both franchises have a new director on board, with Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang‘s (2005) Shane Black taking the helm from Jon Favreau for the third Iron Man movie and Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor taking over from Kenneth Branagh for Thor: The Dark World. Continue reading 2013: Busting Blocks

GOODBYE, MR CHIPS: BREAKING BAD SEASON 5

by Ron Swanson

“This is a story about a man who transforms himself from Mr Chips into Scarface”.
Vince Gilligan – The Guardian, May 19, 2012.

For the past two months or so, fans of Breaking Bad have been ecstatic, watching a run of episodes that have seen the show reach new heights. For the next ten months or so, those same fans will be driven crazy by not knowing what’s coming next. I find some comfort in the fact that I can postpone the sense of emptiness and loss that will inevitably follow when there will never be any new Breaking Bad to look forward to, but it’s overshadowed by the nervousness and paranoia that summer 2013 will never arrive.

Continue reading GOODBYE, MR CHIPS: BREAKING BAD SEASON 5

“Be a Mensch”

by Ron Swanson

I find the question of who my favourite filmmaker is much easier to answer than what’s my favourite film. The answer is, always, albeit after a couple of honourable mentions (Powell and Pressburger, Ozu, Hitch); Billy Wilder. And there is no more quintessentially Billy Wilder film than The Apartment. It’s both cynical and romantic, its characters both optimistic and hopeless and the same scenes are funny and desperately, devastatingly, sad.

CC Baxter (the inestimable Jack Lemmon – never better) is an anonymous drone in a huge New York insurance company, just one of 31,000 employees in a firm so large that he’s known more by his desk number (19th floor, section W, desk 861). Well, that’s how he would be known, if he hadn’t found a way to get ahead – leaving his Manhattan apartment to his superiors so they can entertain their mistresses.

Continue reading “Be a Mensch”

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

By Ron Swanson

I look at my relationship with my favourite film as being analogous with great, romantic love (starting to get an insight as to why my love life is, um, troubled, while writing this sentence). My childhood sweetheart was Star Wars, my first teenage relationship was Goodfellas, and the first one where romance and feelings mattered was The Apartment. About three years into that relationship, though, I realised that I didn’t believe in CC Baxter and Miss Kubelik’s happy ever after (Billy Wilder’s intention, I believe), and ironically, it didn’t work out for me and The Apartment, either.

Currently I’m in a continental-style group marriage with three films. I hope, at some point to write about why I love David Lean’s Brief Encounter so very much or why Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West takes my breath away with every viewing. However, as this weekend sees the re-release of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, that seems like a perfect excuse to eulogise one of the best and most laudable films ever made.
Continue reading The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

Boys Don’t Cry.

by Ron Swanson

I don’t cry very much. Or rather, I don’t cry very much in the first person. Something bad happens to me, I bite my bottom lip, stiffen my resolve and wallow in a tearless self-pity. However, I realised that I might be hiding from my own true nature when an advert for Google made me cry. For the fifth time. In a week.

Continue reading Boys Don’t Cry.

Casablanca’s 70th Anniversary

by Ron Swanson

One of cinema’s most beloved and iconic films, Casablanca will be in selected cinemas in time for Valentine’s Day. The re-release is to mark the 70th anniversary of a film whose reputation has never dimmed. A winner of three Academy Awards – Best Picture, Best Director for Michael Curtiz and Best Writing – Casablanca is revered as one of cinema’s greatest, most indelible romances. In 2007, the American Film Institute voted it the third greatest film of all time, behind only Citizen Kane (1941) and The Godfather (1972).

Continue reading Casablanca’s 70th Anniversary

Preview of 2012 – the Best of the Rest

by Ron Swanson

Over the last couple of days we’ve looked at some of the biggest blockbusters, and potential art-house hits that will go a long way towards defining 2012 as a cinematic year, but it would be silly to underestimate the importance of those films that sit somewhere between those two camps – be they high-profile films made by talented, respected and acclaimed directors, or vanity projects for big stars…

Most of these films will be released in the latter half of 2012, but one movie that will receive plenty of attention on its release in May is the Dictator. The latest project of Sacha Baron Cohen, the Dictator looks set to change his established formula somewhat, mixing in other high-profile actors like John C. Reilly and Curb Your Enthusiasm veteran J.B. Smoove for more of a scripted feel. Regardless of the film’s quality, expect the Dictator to generate plenty of interest.

Continue reading Preview of 2012 – the Best of the Rest

Preview of 2012 – Blockbusters

by Ron Swanson

Any preview of 2012, (or at least one that wants to rouse the collective interest of ‘the Internet’, should probably start with Christopher Nolan’s the Dark Knight Rises. The UK’s cinematic summer slate will be more crowded than ever, with studios running away from two sporting events – the European Football Championships and London 2012. We’ll see a lot of movies congested into a squeezed window of opportunity.

The Dark Knight Rises, released on 20 July, is the only major release to have committed to going head-to-head with the Olympics, and given the franchise’s strength, you can understand the confidence (the Dark Knight took three times the money in the UK as Batman Begins, and is far and away the biggest comic book movie of all time, while the trailer for the Dark Knight Rises received more attention than most full releases).

Nolan’s films are hugely popular, and there’s no denying that he has managed to carve out a niche and be perceived as the director of intelligent blockbusters (Inception took £35m in a very competitive market). The Dark Knight Rises sees Nolan include three of his Inception cast in key roles – Tom Hardy plays brutish villain Bane, Joseph Gordon Levitt as a young Gotham beat cop and Marion Cotillard (swoon) as a possible romantic interest for Batman (played once more as the growliest of dangerous, psychopathic vigilantes by Christian Bale). It will, undoubtedly, be one of the event movies of 2012, but not, by any means, the only one…
Continue reading Preview of 2012 – Blockbusters

Preview of 2012 – Awards and Art House

by Ron Swanson

Bérénice Bejo

Just before Christmas, the issue of film release scheduling was brought up as part of the ugly contretemps between New Yorker film reviewer David Denby and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo producer Scott Rudin. While Denby’s claim that he had to break an embargo he’d agreed to because of release schedule madness (in this case, keeping all of the films aimed at a literate, adult audience to be released at the same time) was clutching for a proverbial drinking device, there’s a kernel of truth to the fact that most of the interesting releases aimed at an older audience do tend to be squeezed into a three month (at best) period.
Continue reading Preview of 2012 – Awards and Art House

MostlyFilm’s Best of 2011 – Beginners

by “Ron Swanson”

2011 has been a great year, in many ways. We’ve seen excellent documentaries, brilliantly ambitious auteur epics, fresh and inventive period drama and some great foreign language films. The one genre that has lagged behind has been the stereotypical American ‘indie’ movie, the type that would have a star in a slightly schlubby role learning life lessons in a quirkily sad way. Usually also featuring a bewilderingly attractive love interest and some sharp-tongued best friends.

There are good ways to make that film, and there are bad ways. In 2011, the best example of the genre was Mike Mills’ Beginners. Mills followed up his excellent, under-appreciated debut Thumbsucker with one of the year’s most emotionally arresting films, while never really deviating too far from the genre blueprint.

Continue reading MostlyFilm’s Best of 2011 – Beginners