The film of 2016 will be set in a block of flats.

The past year of two thousand and fifteen has been one of fantastic range in the cinematic landscape; we’ve had record-breaking franchise renewals, animation packed with emotion, and the inevitable slew of mediocre cash-grabs. I’m going to allow some time for the dust to settle (and enough time for some hasty viewing) before I put together a selection of what I deem to be the very best that the past year had to offer. But for now, I’m going to give some time to looking forward to my most anticipated film of the new year.

Despite the title of this post, the film I speak of is unfortunately not Attack the Block 2, sadly because it does not exist. Instead it is High-Rise which is due for release on the 18th March 2016. But what is High-Rise and why am I so keen to see it? Allow me to elaborate.

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The source is a 1975 novel written by renowned author J.G. Ballard. Even if you don’t recognise his name there’s a chance that you’ll recognise his work since he is best known for Empire of the Sun, for which Steven Spielberg helmed the film adaptation. His other association with the film world comes from the controversial adaptation of his novel Crash. I understand that some of you might be still in the dark, so let’s press on.

High-Rise is mainly centred around Dr. Robert Laing, a new occupant of a towering block of flats. A block of flats larger than previously seen and designed to contain all the luxuries of modern life within its walls, from supermarket to swimming pool. Due to varying accommodation standards and a diverse group of tenants, the building itself reflects an economically driven class strata – working class on the lower floors all the way up to the penthouse where the designer of the building itself resides. With this set up, Ballard takes us through the events during a hot summer that sees this carefully structured vertical society break down from the inside. That’s where I’ll end the description because that was enough to get me to pick up the book last year when the adaptation was announced.

This might not appear as the most enticing of cinematic prospects, but I would argue that it is exactly the matching of director Ben Wheatley to the novel that will make this one to watch, and to keep this simple (since this is entirely speculative!) I’m going to break it down to 2 reasons by looking at another of his films.

1 – The darkness of the human psyche…

Wheatley hasn’t quite set out to warm the hearts of viewers with his films thus far, in fact it could be argued he’s deliberately gone for the opposite. His films usually contain some form of fracturing in the minds of his characters, and the main couple in Sightseers are a great example of this as they end up carrying out a series of random grisly murders on their caravanning holiday. As unsettling as this is, perhaps what is most chilling is that the characters have all the outward appearance of normal people. They easily embody the sorts of people you might meet wandering around a National Heritage site, they could easily live down your street, or perhaps across the hall from you…in a block of flats.

2 – …and the unexpected comedic results

The deft trick that Wheatley pulls in Sightseers is handling the absurdity of the scenario. It teeters on the edge of ridiculousness with just enough of a lean that quite often the knee-jerk reaction is one of laughter. Some of the more horrific moments are even deliberately set up for laughs with the expressed intent to make you giggle and then awkwardly stop once your brain has caught up with your eyes. Trust me when I tell you that a cyclist being run over will make you chuckle. Consider then that a recurring element in Ballard’s novel is the many hedonistic parties that are held seemingly one after the other even whilst the society of the building falls apart. Sounds like a gold mine for absurdist humour to me.

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There you have it. Wheatley’s understanding of flawed humans, the darkness in the psyche, and the absurdity of its breakdown should mesh wonderfully with the pseudo-sci-fi setting of Ballard’s novel. A talented cast led by Tom Hiddleston won’t hurt either. If you’ve ever wanted something more from your cinema excursion, come March 18th I recommend you join us at the High-Rise.

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Child confounds cynical cinephile. Future of film is fixed.

Having reached my quarter-life milestone I’ve become ever so aware of the growing cynicism that I have for the world, even for the parts of it that I adore. It’s all too easy to slip into the mindset and overlook so much of the good that still permeates our everyday lives when we’re not rolling our eyes or shaking our heads with worried disbelief. I have noticed it particularly in the way I view the world of film.

As someone striving to find my critical voice and hone it until it reaches something approaching a sincere and insightful level, I’ve had to operate with the accepted knowledge that my opinion is golden. Part of this comes from wanting to have proper convictions about films and to not abandon my own views in the wake of dissimilar professional opinion, and that’s a good thing to have. The down side of this however, is that you start to feel like you know a lot. You start to believe that you’ve become good at analysing films and passing judgement on whether they’re good, bad, or even worth the time. Maybe you’ll be right about a couple, but pressing on in this manner and not allowing creative works to settle and breathe means that you often only see a film in relation to the worth you assign to it from your own perspective, and rarely do you grasp the worth it may have to others.

Why am I starting this way? Because having seen the trailer for Dreamworks latest film, entitled Home, I had set in my mind that this was nothing more than a bit of animated flim-flam utterly devoid of any innovative spark for storytelling, and perhaps worst of all a vehicle for clunky pop-culture humour, the sort that is painfully recognisable as an adult trying to be ‘down with the kids’. I haven’t seen the film but frankly I have no desire to. The trailer just left me cold, and made me elevate Pixar’s Inside Out to saviour for animation in 2015.

All of this went out the window when I had a brief conversation with a young girl when I was cleaning the cinema after a screening of Home. She was waiting for her father to collect his belongings and so I asked her if she had enjoyed the film. She emphatically replied that she had, which naturally brought a smile to my face – if this kid enjoyed it then she’ll surely be open to other cinematic adventures, we’re off to a good start here. But what she said next really took me by surprise. I should add at this point that she was not in distress and was clearly in a cheerful mood. She told me that while she was no stranger to the cinema, this was the first time that she had cried at the end of a film.

I carried on cleaning but continued to think on her response a little later, and in a Grinch-like manner, the conclusion I got from it warmed my cynical heart quite a bit. As decreed by my obviously superior powers of discernment, Home is a film not worth the time, and when I finally get round to watching it my preconceptions might be spot on, but the very same film contains enough heartfelt emotion that it moved a young girl to tears, in the same way that certain scenes in Interstellar move me to tears.

Roger Ebert has been quoted as saying that, “the movies are like a machine that generates empathy” and I don’t think he could be more right. We all have our different tastes and different films will affect us in different ways, but it is so comforting to know that a film I may brush aside as uninspiring still has the power to move a child to tears. You could examine this in more detail but ultimately I feel it means one thing – Cinema is still important, and that is a very very good thing.

Hooray for films!