High-Rise (2015)

2016 #123
Ben Wheatley | 119 mins | Blu-ray | 2.40:1 | UK & Belgium / English | 15 / R

High-RiseI was looking forward to this sci-fi-ish ’70s social satire, but, having let it percolate for a few months, I still have no real grasp of what it was about. I mean, it’s obviously about society, but what its point about society is… I have no idea.

I will add it reminded me of Shivers. I didn’t like Shivers.

Technical merits are first rate — it’s magnificently designed, shot, and edited; a visual delight throughout. Plus it finds two fantastic uses for Abba’s S.O.S. But at a full two hours, pleasant aesthetics are slight sustenance.

Not so much disappointing as indecipherable.

3 out of 5

Shivers (1975)

2015 #116
David Cronenberg | 87 mins | TV | 4:3 | Canada / English | 18 / R

The first commercial (i.e. non-student) feature by horror maestro-to-be David Cronenberg, Shivers depicts the sexually-charged chaos that erupts after the spread of a man-made sexually-transmitted parasite in an isolated hyper-modern tower block.

The film contains all the requisite titillation of cheap schlock (nudity! gore!), but a handful of interesting, potential-laden ideas indicate the filmmaking promise that Cronenberg would later fulfil. Unfortunately, the execution here is hindered by dirt cheap production values and unfocused, undisciplined storytelling.

The most horrific part for fans is the mere mention of a sometimes-mooted remake, but I don’t think that would necessarily be a bad idea.

2 out of 5

Haiku Review

Ev’ry August film
reviewed in haiku form. (And
you thought drabbles short!)

I can’t even remember what gave me the idea, but the other day I started writing haiku-sized reviews of films I’d watched, and before I knew it had written one for every film from August. So, in what may or may not become a new regular feature, I’m going to share them with you. You lucky, lucky people.

Technically a haiku is more than just the 5-7-5 syllable structure most people know: it should be about nature, and (to quote Wikipedia) “the essence of haiku is ‘cutting’… often represented by the juxtaposition of two images or ideas and a kireji (‘cutting word’) between them.” Obviously these haiku have nothing to do with the first of those conditions; as to the second, well, it comes and goes. At times, I’ve tried; others, less so. Hopefully none are just 17-syllable sentences split in three. Nonetheless, I don’t promise poetic quality with these.


Contagion
Gwyneth Paltrow eats,
whole world at risk of grim death.
Scares ’cause it could be.

End of Watch
Cops film selves, sort of.
Inconsistent P.O.V.
undermines reel-ism.

Inherent Vice [review]
Pynchon’s comedy
filmed by P.T. Anderson.
Laughs for weed users.

Interstellar [review]
Two-Thousand-And-One,
A Space-Time Anomaly.
Mainly, spectacle.

Justice League: The New Frontier
Uncommon premise
raises expectations, but
promise is squandered.

Life of Pi [review]
Tiger on a boat:
CG extravaganza!
Better than the truth.

Monsters: Dark Continent [review]
Genre transplanted,
but soldiers pose same quand’ry:
aren’t we the monsters?

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
This: way the world ends —
not with a bang or whimper,
but a love story.

Shallow Grave
Danny Boyle’s debut.
Cold cash leads friends to distrust
and dismemberment.

Sherlock Holmes (1922) [review]
Moriarty v.
Barrymore. Gillette-derived
slight Sherlock silent.

Shivers
Amateur work by:
biologist, kills neighbours;
Cronenberg, upsets.

Space Station 76 [review]
Groovy future fun,
undercut by theme of frac-
tured relationships.

The Story of Film: An Odyssey
Epic history,
too personalised for some.
Piqued insight abounds.

Stranger by the Lake
French gays have the sex
with a killer in their midst.
A slow-burn beauty.

The Theory of Everything [review]
Eddie Redmayne won
awards, but the film’s heart is
Felicity Jones.

The Thing (2011) [review]
Under prequel’s guise,
computers doodle a mere
Carpenter rehash.

The Haiku Review may return next month. We’ll see how things go.