Movie Notes: “High Rise” (2016)

Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does many things. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (early 2021).

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7 Responses

  1. aaron david says:

    I watched it a while back also and enjoyed it, but I have one reservation about the film, and one about class. I never got the impression that the film fully committed. Everything was hunky dory, especially the architect, story wise, but the casting choices left me a little cold. Too much a pretty boy, Hiddleston doesn’t strike me as fitting in with the tight, narrow world of a Ballard universe. Moss is usually enjoyable, but she comes across as too major an actress for such a minor role, slumming so to speak, just to get viewers. Minor criticisms, as it is nice not to have to wade through the jungle of superheros to see a decently filmed movie.

    About class though, I think one of the issues I had with it was there was only white characters in the film, if I remember right. I can’t speak to British sensibilities, but as an American this struck me as odd. Class and race are so intertwined here in the states that it really took me out of the picture at many times when these issues were contemplated (at a remove) in the film. Dunno, maybe just me.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to aaron david says:

      Yeah I thought that was weird too. It made it feel more like a soap opera to me. I’m wondering if they thought including other ethnicities would complicate it overly or if it was really like that in 1970s London.Report

    • j r in reply to aaron david says:

      About class though, I think one of the issues I had with it was there was only white characters in the film, if I remember right.

      Haven’t seen the film, but I had a similar thought while reading the post, in particular the part about violence being baked into the system. There are some examples of the upper classes using violence systematically against the domestic poor in the United States (Pinkertons and union busting type stuff), but the overwhelming majority of historical U.S. instances of systemically deploying violence has been done in the service of white supremacy; pushing Native Americans off of their land, enslaving Africans, the kind of crap that Joe Arpaio was up to in Maricopa County. There are lots of folks who want to take those things and wrap them up in narrative that is primarily class conscious, which I think is a mistake. Also, I guess this is what motivates a good deal of the political left’s incessant bickering.

      Also, related:

      Meanwhile, my coworkers might snipe at “the rich” from time to time, but their deepest animosity is reserved for downtown panhandlers. Those directly below us on the social ladder are most often a source of anxiety and, thus, hostility. It’s easier to piss downwards than up.

      This is why I think trying to focus efforts on ameliorating income inequality over focusing purely on making those at the lower end of the spectrum objectively better off is largely a mistake. Most people don’t care all that much about “the billionaires” or even the 1%. They save the bulk of their resentment for the folks that have a bit more than they do, the guy living next door with the nicer house and the newer car. And most people don’t look their nose down at the Indian street urchin, but at the folks just a bit worse off, the guy who graduated from the same high school and who peaked in 11th grade or the folks from the wrong side of the tracks in the same small town.

      The chances for coordinated class action are slim, mostly because people’s class anxieties are far from coordinated.

      I am thinking that the combination of the two points above largely encapsulates why my own politics have never leaned left.Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to j r says:

        Here in beautiful Ontario, a lot of the class resentments are really just about mobility, lack of. A fairly easy way to ameliorate it is just to give people chances to move up a rung. Conversely, give them government checks periodically, which seems to be the chosen solution most of the time.Report

        • j r in reply to Rufus F. says:

          I’m not convinced that it’s that simple. I rarely see political resentment that isn’t co-mingled with personal resentment. Globally, the new right is being fueled by angry mostly-white folks who feel like they’ve been left behind by the machinations of some globalist elite. And part of it is that the factories don’t employ as many people and unions aren’t as strong as they once were and the returns to increasing productivity are increasingly accruing to capital, but it’s also that now it’s not enough to just be a white American/”insert whatever nationality here” male and these folks have to compete with women in the workforce and black and brown people moving up the economic ladder and the rest of the world’s economies converging and competing. And as much as our political conversation wants to pretend those two categories are mutually exclusive, they’re not.

          Also, as an American, I’m use to people using Canada or Western Europe as the foil to our dearth of a welfare state and labor regulations and the like. And yet, here you are telling me that Canada has the same problem. And the French can’t seem to go more than a few months without striking and setting something on fire. All that tells me that increasing entitlements and enacting stronger regulations is a temporary fix at best. Sooner or later people’s expectations will reset and they will start demanding more from the government.Report

          • Rufus F. in reply to j r says:

            Well… sort of the same problems. It’s really hard to get a good job here, but there’s lots of government assistance at all levels. So they pay us not to throw trash cans through windows and we don’t. Win-win.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    I’m not old enough to remember how quickly we can get from “meh, this sucks, I guess” to “it’s happening” but it rare for me to find a story that plausibly gets from here to there.

    But if I can abandon “plausibly” for a moment, man, that chord resonates, don’t it?Report