April 2nd, 2016
Mister Attack: So, Illogical Volume and I concur that High-Rise was excellent. I have to confess to not being familiar with Ballard or Wheatley, but this was pretty much up my alley. (As someone currently spending far too much time painting up a flat of his own, and discovering more and more problems, I can relate. Well, that and living in a classist nightmare of horrible bastards with ‘good’ intentions).
It took me a while to unpack that the satire is at once broad as fuck, but has these layers. It’d be fair to say I was not all in the building at work on Friday, I was off in Royal’s tower. Every bit points to something, although perhaps some of that was the damaged foundations I brought into the cinema with me. Sometimes it’s subtle, as with our protagonist’s namesake not being immediately to hand, and with others it’s screaming from the rafters.
There’s this British sitcom going very wrong feel – like someone should be watching this in the background of The Filth. A comedy of manners, except the manners devolve to the best way to lie in wait to bludgeon the neighbours. Hiddleston plays straight man to a mix of sitcom and soap opera grotesques, trying to act like all this is normal, with his own mania creeping around. A hollow man with a shallow inner life he’s trying to create for real. Except, well, he’s not that straight. Illogical Volume mentioned Brazil as another touching point. He’s not wrong. The conflict of hierarchies and shallow men trying to fill the void with what they think they need is the same, but the farce is played straighter, less panto. The difference is manifest in the likes of Bob Hoskins yelling about tampered ducts for the benefit cheap seats, versus Reece Sheersmith tetchily complaining that people aren’t following the rules about the bin chutes. That said, both movies feature protagonists who are at odds with their surroundings, but Hiddleston’s Laing embraces the new paradigm, whereas Pryce’s Lowry is engaged in defiance by ineffectual escapism.
At the time, we immediately talked about the Garland/Travis Dredd, due to some of the establishing shots, I mentioned World On A Wire as a similar 70′s futurist meltdown, although mostly tonally opposite. At some points High-Rise’s camerawork emphasises a static, clinical detachment, and at others a drunken wooziness that compliments the mental state of the characters. Same with the soundtrack, which is more of an audio landscape to compliment the location. Laing’s poise is only a surface.