Time for another Film Comparison Game Show with your host: Meeeee
High-Rise (2015) vs Circle (2015)
So it’s the proverbial end of the world as we know it and people are acting nutty. We’ve only got one set. One location. Maybe a couple of peeks outside. But we’re going to show you what the human race is like when the motherfucking world is ending. This is…
High Concept Apocalyptic or Dystopian Science Fiction Without Special Effects
Let’s look at the two films we have on the show this time around.
A film about a bunch of random Americans in a room deciding in what order they should die in… you know… just because.
A film about a bunch of Brits in a high-rise building trying to kill each other during their own little apocalypse… you know… just because.
I watched these movies back to back (but not on purpose) so they kind of blended together. I had no idea about the similarities but they stripped my conscience bare. And I really liked both films in a “this shit is disturbing” kind of way.
So bookmark this page. And go watch them. NOW
They’re both pretty quick films. Films of this genre usually are. That way I can spoil them because you just can’t talk about these movies without spoilers. Usually you don’t even know what’s happening in these kinds of films until the end. And also you’ll know when I’m being full of shit and we can talk about it in the comments.
Go on and watch them now. I’ll wait.
We’ll ALL wait. What’s 3 hours between friends?
Are they gone?
I lied. We’re not gonna wait for them.
Let’s get right to it.
I love this genre. When I wanted to make movies this was the kind of shit I liked to do. Because the concept overshadows everything else. You can do them on a shoe-string budget. All you need is good writing and good acting. In fact, Circle (2015) is a lot like a play I wrote in college. And High-Rise (2015) reminds me of one of the concepts in my novel. But enough about me. Let’s start the film comparison. (cue the music)
Still no music? We don’t need music.
But we do need this:
spoiler alert (for the wee folk)
spoilers up ahead… I’m serious. (for the people who don’t think I’m serious)
Everything past this point is full of SPOILERS.
For the love of god go watch the movies first before reading this!!!
High-Rise (2015) vs Circle (2015)
A Film Comparison.
1) Casting & Characters
Circle (2015) has some well-defined almost stereotypical American characters from all walks of life thrown together in a spaceship. (They’re in a spaceship. I told you I was gonna spoil it) Trying to talk themselves into two more minutes of life.
High-Rise (2015) has several of my favorite actors playing people who are losing their minds as their mini society begins to breakdown in their state-of-the-art self-contained high-rise apartment building as the infrastructure crumbles..
You can’t beat that British cast in High-Rise (2015). Circle (2015) needed lesser known actors to promote the equanimity of their situation. But what can I say, I just like watching people I loved in other things doing wacky shit. I’m a big fan of Sienna Miller. I think she’s brilliant. And Hiddleston and Moss and Purefoy. Great cast.
2) Location & Setting
It’s right there in both titles. High-Rise (2015) takes place in a high-rise building high above the streets. And Circle (2015) literally takes place in a circle. Just a bunch of people standing in a circle unable to move or they get zapped by the evil unseen aliens.
High-Rise (2015) is the more interesting location because what floor you live on has so much meaning to the characters until it absolutely doesn’t. However Circle (2015) is the higher concept (if that’s a measurable thing) I mean they’re standing there in the dark for the entire movie. Except for the stupid peak outside at the end. (My play ends with the last guy just walking off… and yes we are talking about me again)
If you want a high concept setting look no further than Circle (2015). You can’t even see the damn walls. It’s crazy man. It’s intense. They’re dropping like flies.
3) The Social Message
Circle (2015) tackles ageism then racism and xenophobia then sexism and ends up being a huge slap in the face to our concepts of good versus evil.
High-Rise (2015) is a straight across the bow shot at class-ism and social standing with an over-powering moral message that tells us in no uncertain terms that if the working classes aren’t respected and stop working then everything collapses and you’ve gotta fight for your right to party.
There is so much underneath the concepts of both of these films. And interpretations may vary. I was more connected to the story in Circle (2015) (as an American) and in my opinion the anti-moral of the film seems to say that since everybody is gonna die, fuck the concept of good and evil and, just survive.
And while you’re at it, fuck your liberal and intellectual ideals. Intellectuals are abortion loving assholes anyway. Which is a screwed up message. But I may have brought a sensitivity to a political agenda into the movie with me. However it seemed pretty blatant where I was sitting. Especially the whole abortion thing.
4) What Each Has To Say About Humanity
When society breaks down in High-Rise (2015) it’s pretty much every class for themselves. Then every species. And then every man for himself. Chaos.
And when the chips are down in the very American Circle (2015) the entire system breaks into factions based on race or ethnicity or age or politics or ideology. There are factions within factions. It’s deep shit.
While the men in High-Rise (2016) get extremely violent.
Folks aren’t allowed to touch in Circle (2015). Touching gets you zapped to death.
While the Brits lose all sense of composure like it’s some massive catharsis of anger and pleasure and ego.
The Americans become competitive and believe the last one alive should be the winner… and it definitely should be them… for reasons.
And also pregnancy doesn’t give you a pass during the apocalypse in either movie.
It’s just a shit show all around in both countries.
Personally I prefer the fucking and fighting of the Brits to the manipulating and back-stabbing of the Americans. Just my preference. Doesn’t make me anti-American or anything. Except for the part where the Limey bastards eat a dog. I could have done without that part.
4) Writing & Directing
Directed by Ben Wheatley
High-Rise (2015) gets the immediate edge by being based on a science fiction book by J.G. Ballard written in 1975 and for using 70’s items as if they are state-of-the-art future tech. Just lovely. I love that past as future crap. The building as social experiment. And the world outside as oblivious. I’ve never read the book and many of the themes went over my head but it was a very good movie.
Then there was…
Written & Directed by Aaron Hann & Mario Miscione
Circle (2015) is clearly some Tea Party propaganda film with a shitty fuck all liberals ending where the one good guy and smart guy turns out to be a coward and baby killer. Thanks FOX News. In the end our liberal villain is standing outside with a bunch of children because most of the other groups let one of the kids live. But not our atheist, liberal scumbag. He kills the child, pregnant woman and fetus. And he’s unfazed.
But for the most part, both of these are good thought-provoking films. Also if you have to give lectures to explain what happened in your film, you did not do your job.
Circle (2015) is well-directed and for the most part well-written. With great performances from the entire cast. This is a performance-driven film. The dialogue is fantastic and there is an actual silent clock moving the movie along at lightning speed. Every two minutes someone dies regardless. The trick is that the people in the circle get to decide who it is that dies next. I love the concept. It’s a monumental study in human ego. The ultimate snooze bar. The people do anything and everything for two more minutes of life.
Personally, I’m out of there as soon as I figure out what’s going on.
“Alright guys. I’m out. Do me a favor. Be good to each other. Don’t let the last thing you do on this earth be screwing somebody over. Remember the last person is not the winner but the loser. They’re the one who chose to kill 49 other people. And they’re the one who has to live in a nightmarish hell-scape with that knowledge.” And as I stepped off my platform I’d leave ’em all with a salute, a smile and comically cartoonish, “See Ya!” in a goofy voice right before I died.
Always leave ’em laughing.
High-Rise (2015) is a big old mess. However, the depths of depravity make it really entertaining. They go from the most British prim and proper stick-up-your bum-ness to THE LUNATICS ARE RUNNING THE ASYLUM, and it is a joy to watch. There is no comedy in Circle (2015). But High-Rise (2015) is funny as fuck. And the cast is phenomenal. I love Sienna Miller and Tom Hiddleston and my girl from Mad Men, Elizabeth Moss (and her English accent), and James Purefoy (the guy from HBO’s Rome). I love this cast.
The high-rise building is a microcosm of British society and of the world under capitalism and perceived meritocracy. And once they realize that there are no rules… then there are no rules. It brings to mind the most decadent civilizations in human history right before the fall, the crash or the wrath of god.
As a movie, I liked High-Rise (2015) way better than Circle (2015). Mostly because there’s a big old abortion-sized hole at the end of Circle (2015) That’s because if you’re including the bloody unborn baby as another person that’s 51 people and if it ends with the mother being last. She would have had to kill her unborn child to survive. Or have the machine kill the mother, the winner would be the unborn kid… oops no. The baby would die too wouldn’t she. Thus making this little ending stunt fundamentally flawed. A fundamental flaw of this magnitude in a film that was otherwise perfect (up to that point) pisses me the fuck off… but also because High-Rise (2015) is just much more fun to watch because again… THE LUNATICS ARE RUNNING THE ASYLUM!!!
5) Verdict: Human Beings Suck
You were expecting something else? It’s the only conclusion you can come to. It’s the only conclusion these movies allow. There are no good guys. In both movies, the best the human race has to offer ends up being part of the problem. There are no Bodhisattva in hell, I suppose, is what they’re trying to say to us.
Well personally I think they’re wrong. I’ve never been to hell, (just hell-adjacent) but that’s where you find them. That’s where they’re most needed. So while another jaded creative intellectual tries to tell us that everyone is just as bad as they think they are, I have a message of my own; They’re not as bad as they think and neither are we.
I’m gonna leave you with this simple realization. Every day. Every hour. Every minute. Every second. Someone does something good for someone else without wanting anything in return. For absolutely no reward. It happens so often it’s not even newsworthy. It’s common. But when someone does something evil, we point all our cameras at it. Evil is news. You know why? Because evil is the anomaly. Good is our default position. And we need to realize that… especially when we’re in hell.