High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

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senseabove
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High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#1 Post by senseabove » Mon Sep 10, 2018 1:51 pm

Well the High Life reactions have been... interesting. A good number of walkouts (and I saw one mention of walking out to throw up...), apparently, and from what I've seen most of the positive reactions have been heavily caveated that it won't be for most. I was admittedly already looking forward to this one, but I'm extra curious now, since I tend to like Denis on the jumbled-narrative end of things (though I haven't seen her more cringe-y movies to know how I fare with them).

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domino harvey
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Re: Festival Circuit 2018

#2 Post by domino harvey » Mon Sep 10, 2018 1:53 pm

Given the revelation that one of the most contentious scenes involves
SpoilerShow
Juliette Binoche and a "dildo machine"
I gotta wonder what makes this more objectionable than the comical usages in mainstream TV and film like
SpoilerShow
It's Always Sunny and Burn After Reading

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Boosmahn
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)

#3 Post by Boosmahn » Mon Sep 10, 2018 2:45 pm

I clicked on this link expecting an adaptation of High Life by Matthew Stokoe, sadly, but was not disappointed.

After briefly reading the summary, I'm a bit confused:
SpoilerShow
why are the crew members being sexually experimented on?
Isn't the purpose of the mission to find alternative energy sources?
Last edited by Boosmahn on Mon Sep 10, 2018 3:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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senseabove
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)

#4 Post by senseabove » Mon Sep 10, 2018 2:57 pm

Boosmahn wrote:
Mon Sep 10, 2018 2:45 pm
I clicked on this link expecting an adaptation of High Life by Matthew Stokoe, sadly, but was not disappointed.

After briefly reading the summary, I'm a bit confused:
SpoilerShow
why are the crew members being sexually experimented on?
Isn't the purpose of the mission to find alternative energy sources?
From what I've read, Binoche's character
SpoilerShow
is a ship doctor who turns into some sort of sexual witch doctor/dictator once everyone realizes it's a doomed mission and they're all probably going to die.
There were a few spoilery reviews late last night, if you wanna know more, but I'm trying not to spoil anything else for myself.

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Persona
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)

#5 Post by Persona » Mon Sep 10, 2018 4:00 pm

Everything I've read makes the film sound pretty fantastic.

Jordan Cronk is one of the critics that I trust most on the festival circuit and he was totally blown away by this one, calling it a "landmark" and "visionary piece of cinema."

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DarkImbecile
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)

#6 Post by DarkImbecile » Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:27 pm


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Boosmahn
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)

#7 Post by Boosmahn » Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:27 pm

With Waves (Trey Edward Shults), Midsommar (Ari Aster), Gloria Bell, Uncut Gems (Safdie brothers), The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers), Native Son, and now this, A24 has one of their most impressive line-ups to date. And that's not even considering some of the films we don't have much information on yet.

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NABOB OF NOWHERE
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)

#8 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Fri Sep 28, 2018 3:02 am


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Persona
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)

#9 Post by Persona » Fri Oct 12, 2018 8:52 pm


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Cremildo
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)

#10 Post by Cremildo » Mon Jan 14, 2019 5:36 pm

Image

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mfunk9786
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)

#11 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 5:39 pm

Gorgeous

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soundchaser
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#12 Post by soundchaser » Mon Jan 14, 2019 5:47 pm

Yeah, that's very nice, and unlike the original poster it won't get confused with First Man.

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Boosmahn
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#13 Post by Boosmahn » Mon Jan 14, 2019 6:12 pm

I can't wait for Lionsgate to ruin it as they have done with many A24 Blu-rays before. (Not that the cover impacts the quality of the film, however.)

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senseabove
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#14 Post by senseabove » Mon Jan 14, 2019 6:15 pm

Boosmahn wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 6:12 pm
I can't wait for Lionsgate to ruin it as they have done with many A24 Blu-rays before. (Not that the cover impacts the quality of the film, however.)
Thunderbird/Soda got UK rights, so presumably we'll at least get a good BD from them.

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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#15 Post by criterionsnob » Wed Jan 16, 2019 11:30 am


kubelkind
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#16 Post by kubelkind » Tue Mar 19, 2019 7:54 am

Contact (2014)...looks like a brief tryout for parts of High Life, but worth a look
http://olafureliasson.net/archive/watc ... aire-denis

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R0lf
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)

#17 Post by R0lf » Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:03 pm

Boosmahn wrote:
Mon Sep 10, 2018 2:45 pm
After briefly reading the summary, I'm a bit confused:
SpoilerShow
why are the crew members being sexually experimented on?
Isn't the purpose of the mission to find alternative energy sources?
Yes, but
SpoilerShow
the mission is an experimental one way trip so they staff the entire crew - including Binoche - with convicts who are given the choice to die in outer space or stay in prison.

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Never Cursed
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Re: Festival Circuit 2018

#18 Post by Never Cursed » Mon Apr 08, 2019 2:16 am

domino harvey wrote:
Mon Sep 10, 2018 1:53 pm
Given the revelation that one of the most contentious scenes involves
SpoilerShow
Juliette Binoche and a "dildo machine"
I gotta wonder what makes this more objectionable than the comical usages in mainstream TV and film like
SpoilerShow
It's Always Sunny and Burn After Reading
I found a VFX reel for this tonight which provided the answer to this question (very NSFW and extremely spoilery contents within):
SpoilerShow
It's Always Sunny (and presumably Burn After Reading, which I haven't seen) do not involve a graphic CGI closeup of a dildo penetrating said actor, complete with not only frontal nudity, but also an internal view (?) of her vagina and uterus with the dildo inside.

I'm surprised nothing was made of the way Binoche and especially Mia Goth exited the movie. Between this and Suspiria, Goth has gotten the Scanners treatment quite a lot recently.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#19 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Apr 13, 2019 1:21 am

I think I loved this. The bookends of the film were quite affecting in their deliberate pacing and Pattinson really shines in these scenes. As for the middle,
SpoilerShow
Denis lost me for a brief period as she asks us to acclimate to spending a lot of time with characters that weren’t fleshed out, while they suffer and, well, exist. It was particularly jarring to see Pattinson take a back seat in this chunk of the film, blending in with the others and shifting the audience’s viewpoint of the film away from his surrogate and towards a more objective perspective. At a certain point it sunk in that I was witnessing these characters experience a plethora of internal emotions and external circumstances, and the relationship between them, from an intentionally clinical distance. Denis provides inconsistent space between the camera and her ‘subjects,’ alternating from extreme close-ups to medium shots from occasionally aggressive angles, to disorient the viewer tactfully into forcing a separation from investing in the characters. Instead, I was left with the realization that perhaps I had been viewing the film ‘incorreclty’ in attempting to relate to the story, or scenes strung together, as opposed to snippets where the actions and behaviors and experiences of each character in each scene are very human- and when taken generally- common experiences. Naturally characters experiencing obvious fear, joy, power, powerlessness, isolated, connected, etc. but also in seemingly small moments like being in weak physical condition and asking for consolation through human touch, a scene that almost begs to be shot differently than it is, to invest the viewer into the characters’ experience on a deeper emotional level (for who hasn’t been in a weakened state- physically or emotionally- seeking solace in another, as well as the person being sought to provide that solace?). However, this was just as affecting, albeit in an unexpected way. I was at a far enough distance to sit with that ‘situation’ from my seat, in my body, with no way out into projecting my discomfort onto both characters, and thus had a more personal, and uncomfortable, moment than if I was shedding tears for characters I felt I knew and loved.

Denis seems particularly interested in focusing on the duality- or spectrum- of hope and hopelessness, how we experience both off and on, and at the same time, how they’re both necessary and serve us naturally and the extent to which we are willing to act unnaturally to feel internal stability. She presents us with the brutal reality that we can, and do, experience a range of emotions including this juxtaposition of hope and hopelessness, at the same time - and instead of being interested in ‘why’ this is, as a lesser film might choose to be derivative to sell an existential slogan, she is content to not ask a thing, but allow- and force- us to sit with that thought, and even moreso the feelings that come with it, as a privilege or a burden, or both and neither. It simply is - and yet the complexity of the emotions that seemingly simple melting pot stirs up is shattering.


As the movie ended I kept thinking of Vox Lux, another film that presented these uncomfortable realities of the individual experience of relating to others, their surroundings (immediate and societal, culturally constructed), and oneself. Both films are crafted with enough calculated mastery and skill that they work, but like a house of cards this is incredibly challenging to pull off and will strike each viewer differently due to the extreme sensitivity of this experience of discomfort. I suspect that, like that film, this will be incredibly divisive. But any film about the human experience to so boldly choose to provoke and elicit emotion over thought- to the point of making the audience impotent in the quest to find answers in rationality- is such a twisted treat when done right.

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tenia
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#20 Post by tenia » Sat Apr 13, 2019 4:42 am

I quite liked the movie too, but I'm not so fond of the bookends. I find them tediously long, with shots lingering for way too long while I didn't feel they were adding so much. I guessed they were partly more atmospherical than anything else, but they still felt I could fast-forward through them and not miss much.
I however liked how the movie quite coldly handle all the characters' situations and interactions. There is something both vastly logical / predictable and shocking in the way things go. They can be too "lazily" written at times (Ewan Mitchell's role), though.

However, I have yet to find what caused all these walkouts.

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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#21 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Apr 13, 2019 2:14 pm

I think those tedious shots and pacing were exposing the banality of the acts of existing- and this would fit with the idea that Denis is meditating on existence as a spectrum focusing on both extremes of emotions (mostly in the middle section) and everything in between (mostly the bookends, but in the middle too). I agree that there were certainly moments where they went on just long enough to feel too long - my guess is that this was the point but that doesn’t necessarily make it work. This is such dangerous filmmaking that depending on my mood this could fall flat on the next watch, and one’s enjoyment is less contingent than of if they “get” it than if one cares about the way this material is presented.

I’m glad you liked the middle- the predictable/shocking duality felt partly a result of characters fitting into purposeful tropes (i.e. the lazily written character you speak of I’d argue was intentionally written that way to service that predictability) and having almost no insight into them naturally led to both expected and completely unexpected responses to stressors. When broken from a traditional narrative and relationships between the viewer and the characters, they come across like subjects in experiments (both in the plot and to the audience)- but ones giving just enough information to evoke some emotion in their brief, cold interactions for the viewer to have their own completely subjective experience.

I have no idea why there would be walkouts either, other than boredom. None of the scenes that have been spoilerboxed felt nearly as triggering as I expected, and I was surprised by how much Denis restrained herself with the possibilities of these tools at her disposal.

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tenia
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#22 Post by tenia » Sat Apr 13, 2019 4:41 pm

It's indeed a very restrained movie, graphically speaking, and even the most shocking moments are usually shown in the shadows or strobing lights so not much is visible on-screen.

I understand your point about the characters, though I just don't share it. I think that in the end, despite the likely willingness to do something different, the characters remain tropes that are not too difficult to read through. Sure, in a way, they remain blank pages on which one (including Denis) can project a bit what one wants, but this aside, they often feel transparent because of that lack of characterisation and relying on familiar tropes. I agree that it helps seeing them only as experimentation objects, but in this regard, I'm not sure the movie uses this that well. Many of the secondary characters, for instance, end up being vastly under-developped, and of course totally expendable. It's hard in these conditions to connect with them, even at a theorical level.

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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#23 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Apr 13, 2019 7:54 pm

tenia wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 4:41 pm
I agree that it helps seeing them only as experimentation objects, but in this regard, I'm not sure the movie uses this that well. Many of the secondary characters, for instance, end up being vastly under-developped, and of course totally expendable. It's hard in these conditions to connect with them, even at a theorical level.
Absolutely - I think you hit the nail on the head in that these characters are incredibly difficult to connect with on any level, and I’m also not entirely sure that the use of the characters as ‘objects’ is necessarily effective in and of itself. There were certainly many moments in the film where I felt complete apathy in my disconnect and didn’t have any emotional response to what was going on, partly because of my conditioned response to look to connection with an individual character to elicit emotion. However I didn’t really see the intent being for these characters to be canvasses themselves but rather the behaviors and situations to be: The characters are thin and expendable, but the brief moments of biological, social, and emotional drives that they experience are what seem to be of interest (and expendable, but thematically everything is in this film). At times this worked for me when swallowing one situation isolated from the rest, and at times it didn’t work at all, which makes sense since a situation as blank canvas is more difficult, and often less interesting, than the use of a person as canvas as the vehicle to process relating to and accessing affect. While Denis arguably breaks too many rules of the way people participate in watching and digesting the elements of a movie to obstruct its intentions (a la Vox Lux as I mentioned before, but to a far more esoteric level here, as that film allowed more emotion drawn from its characters), it’s still an interesting experiment on the audience - though in a completely non-manipulative way.

I’ve gone back and forth on this film enough times in under 24 hours to recommend it on the internal struggle it’s evoked alone, and look forward to other thoughts.


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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#25 Post by whaleallright » Mon Apr 22, 2019 1:48 am

Saw this (playing to a house with about six people) on Easter. It was brilliant and stunning, and at several points almost unbearably poignant. That said, I admit I found the ending to be disappointing in a way not entirely different to my reaction to some other films by Denis.

The following might consitute spoilers, though I've tried to be oblique:

I think there's more than enough in the penultimate images and the final spoken word to hint at their meaning—though I'm not sure if I would have grasped the centrality of the notion of "consent" to the film without the gloss that Denis provided during her recent (ongoing?) publicity tour. Still, the ending had the maybe unfortunate effect of suggesting a film à thèse—which I think did a disservice to the film, much in the way that the concluding reel of White Material seemed to collapse a very suggestive and polysemous film into something much more fashionably (and spectacularly) pessimistic.

Did the "fuckbox" setpiece w/ Binoche remind anyone else of the work of Philippe Grandrieux, particularly La vie nouvelle?

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