High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

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Persona
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:16 pm

Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#26 Post by Persona » Fri Apr 26, 2019 3:50 pm

Brilliant but uneven. But brilliant.

I am not sure why I was reminded of WOMAN IN THE DUNES. An out-there scenario as vivid illustration of the tightening mortal coil? I dunno.

Pattinson, Binoche, and Andre 3000 were all quite good.

The baby broke my heart. She resembles my own youngest (7 months) so much right now.

I kind of hated the narration over the first 2/3rds of the movie, reminded me of the theatrical cut of Blade Runner where everything would be so much better if Pattinson wasn't talking at me. But I loved the ending.

dda1996a
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#27 Post by dda1996a » Fri Apr 26, 2019 3:59 pm

I'm kind of surprised to see when the last third went, but this is a beautiful amalgation of my favorite Denis (Trouble Every Day andBastards meets 35 Shots of Rum Let the Sunshine In) plus the beautiful short film she made in preparation for this makes a grand reuse here. Currently my best of '19.
I had trouble making out Binoche's story regarding her children (no subtitles and Goth's accent is a hard one) if anyone can fill me in.

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Persona
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#28 Post by Persona » Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:03 pm

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I guess she suffocated her children with bags and their pillows and then stabbed her husband to death. And then tried to kill herself.
Happy fun times.

dda1996a
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#29 Post by dda1996a » Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:13 pm

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I thought it had something to do with her womb scar and was the impetus for her experiments. I sadly missed a lot of dialogue information due to not understanding what was being sad. Fortunately Denis makes her films work visually so we'll I don't fell I missed much. But is there an explanation for Binoche's experiments? Because that's not the spaceship mission

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Persona
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#30 Post by Persona » Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:26 pm

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She was trying to achieve genetic "perfection" that could withstand the radiation.

I think "the Agency" was like, sure, okay, we'll let you experiment on the other prisoners because if you find the genetic equation that lets people actually hang around to get information on the rotational energy of the black hole, bonus.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#31 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:50 pm

And the references to Pattinson’s genes being “perfect” is that he and by extension his daughter are immune to the radiation. This has a metaphysical dimension as well, with the daughter showing a kind of preconscious or implicit knowledge of the nature of various black holes.

But then this idea of “perfect” genes is very much Binoche’s language, a language Pattinson mirrors but never endorses or identifies with. It’s more how he verbalizes Binoche’s relationship towards him. But the bookends, especially the earlier ones, invite us to contrast the nature argument with the nurture one, and reflect that Binoche’s concept of nature is shadowed by her inability to nurture, with all the ugliness that implies. There’s probably a further parallel with the garden and how it must be cultivated.

Tuthmoses
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#32 Post by Tuthmoses » Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:51 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Although unequal in quality, it has moments of sheer brilliance. I believe I like it just as much as Beau Travail and Nennette and Boni. Claire Denis has a way of making you feel you're there in the scene on location with the actors. This has got to be her most intense film since Trouble Every Day.

I think the message here is that bestiality is a part of the human condition and that we can't escape it. The doctor seems to want to separate the reproductive component of sex from its carnal benefit completely. The theme is most representative in Monte's relationship with his daughter. The impression I got was that she and the love he had for her was innocent in the beginning but became more sinister when she grew up and slowly turned into a sexual creature, signifying that the cycle of sexual violence, perversion and exploitation would continue.

Unfortunately, the dialogue was cringe-worthy in several places. That was my only real problem with it. The atmosphere, many of the characters, cinematography and special effects were amazing.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#33 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Apr 26, 2019 5:01 pm

Persona wrote:
Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:26 pm
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She was trying to achieve genetic "perfection" that could withstand the radiation.

I think "the Agency" was like, sure, okay, we'll let you experiment on the other prisoners because if you find the genetic equation that lets people actually hang around to get information on the rotational energy of the black hole, bonus.
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This is entirely possible, though I think there was a deliberate absence of explanation to highlight the theme of hope as a significant human need. A friend I saw it with asked me after the movie why "the Agency" would even bother with this mission in the hope of finding energy if people on Earth would be dead by the time anyone got to it (which I believe is alluded to by the prisoners). The key word to me is "hope" and reminded me of the start of NASA and space exploration to boost morale and hope in the American people. I don't know if it matters whether "the Agency" actually intended to get energy or not, because it was their last hope, and gave the prisoners something to strive and hope for in the form of a quest. Binoche's hope is her personal mission for genetic perfection- it gives her something to live for, and if we want to get psychological, absolutely serves as a defense mechanism to take action towards creating life after she took away life from those closest to her. Rather than getting too psychological, Denis seems more interested in the philosophical process of hope and how it's both futile and necessary- and what better setting to use than the emptiness of outer space to expose this idea of humans together yet alone with their own hope.

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domino harvey
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#34 Post by domino harvey » Fri Apr 26, 2019 5:03 pm

Mod Note: Some of you need to get acquainted with how spoiler tags work... I’ve fixed the glaring ones for now, but try to be mindful of this going forward please

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Mr Sausage
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#35 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Apr 26, 2019 6:30 pm

Worth noting that the occupants act a lot like children, with Binoche as the mother figure; and tho' Binoche seems driven by a need not just to create, but to perfect life, she's incapable of fostering it:
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the best she can do with her charges, her children really, is to control them via reward systems, physical restraints, or outright drugging. Otherwise, she cannot help them develop and mature as a parent should, and their delinquency grows into rape, murder, theft, and suicide. When she finally succeeds at creating a child, her next action is to kill herself, presumably because she lacks the maternity for what comes next. It's mentioned above that her experiments are the attempt to make up for her crimes, but mostly they reenact it: she creates life without being able to nurture it. The only difference is she succeeds at killing herself this time.
There's some key stuff here about parents failing or being absent. And I think it's significant that Pattinson entered jail as a child. This is his own maturation from child to adult through being a parent, leaving us with the only image in the film of a successful parent/child relationship, one where the child seems to transcend the parent without needing to overcome him.

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Persona
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#36 Post by Persona » Sat Apr 27, 2019 8:26 am

domino harvey wrote:
Fri Apr 26, 2019 5:03 pm
Mod Note: Some of you need to get acquainted with how spoiler tags work... I’ve fixed the glaring ones for now, but try to be mindful of this going forward please
Apologies. Because of how it is presented in the film I didn't even think of it as a spoiler, but of course you're right.

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Persona
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#37 Post by Persona » Sat Apr 27, 2019 8:42 am

Tuthmoses wrote:
Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:51 pm
Unfortunately, the dialogue was cringe-worthy in several places.
yeah, have to agree with you there. the film would have had a better impact with about half the dialogue (and I'm including the voice-over in that) that was in it. kept getting flashes of Sy Fy drama writing and I think it was more glaring because of the quality of everything else that went into the film.

At the same time, there is a moment where I almost wished for some dialogue/voice-over exposition to offer some insight:
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the ship filled with nothing but dogs--are we supposed to take that as just another experiment from the Agency? or is the motivation behind that moment an example of art over plot from Denis? because it certainly does result in some striking, harrowing imagery.
another moment that was befuddling to me:
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the dramatic zoom into the train where we get... a student interviewing a professor who is awkwardly telling us stuff we already know? it's a complete one-off moment, too.

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tenia
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#38 Post by tenia » Sat Apr 27, 2019 9:35 am

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I indeed don't recall any explanation about the dogs-containing ship. Could be a totally random ship that went awry.

kubelkind
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#39 Post by kubelkind » Sat Apr 27, 2019 10:39 am

I liked this and can't wait to see it again (saw it when we were in Paris last year,with one of the space suits on exhibit in the bookshop next door to the cinema which was pretty cool). It'll never be my favourite Denis mostly because I miss the regular cast which Denis has had such a long standing rapport. Where's Alex Descas?! Not that the A listers do a bad job, though I can't shake the feeling that Pattinson is still too young and fresh-faced for the part. Imagining an alternative cosmos where the character is played by Vincent Lindon! I also miss Agnes Godard's idiosyncratic camerawork.
Similarly, I miss the great sense of place in the previous Denis films, be it Paris, Djibouti or wherever. I know space is a place, or THE place if you're Sun Ra but a studio set and a green screen ain't. It all feels very claustrophobic in there which I accept is the point but doesn't mean I have to "like" it.
Two of the usual big Denis themes predominated for me: unconventional families and the strife therein (and you can't pick your "family", even if you're not related to them). And that colonial enterprises are inherently cruel and always doomed to failure.
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Re:the dogs. I took them as a Laika-style trial run for the doomed mission we are on. Also rhyming with the curious incident with the dog that got our hero in so much trouble in the first place. Which is maybe the real reason why he doesn't want Willow to adopt a pet.
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Re: the Professor on the train. Do we know the true nature of the space venture before he appears? I like this kind of necessary-exposition-by-third-party idea and I seem to remember Denis doing things like that before, maybe Trouble Every Day where the backstory is explained by a marginal character and glimpses of information on a website.
The train scene also seems to be referencing Denis' earlier short Vers Nancy, and the fantastic pivotal scene in Godard's La Chinoise that maybe influenced both?

dda1996a
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#40 Post by dda1996a » Sat Apr 27, 2019 1:21 pm

Glad to see I wasn't the only immediately thinking about those two references. But no we aren't told anything prior.
Also, I liked how the film sort of plays as Denis' 2001+Solaris (with some Stalker too)

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bearcuborg
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#41 Post by bearcuborg » Mon May 06, 2019 2:41 pm

The always too short, but entertaining Elvis Mitchell with Claire Denis

I went into this knowing next to nothing about the plot, and I can’t imagine spoilers ruining it for anyone.

The graphic sex & violence was pretty jarring. Despite the setting, it had a lot of her signature hallmarks. However I didn’t get all that emotionally involved or find it too interesting visually. But it is something that I would like to see again. It’s a challenging film, in the best way Claire Denis films are...

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Oedipax
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#42 Post by Oedipax » Tue May 07, 2019 1:57 pm

I felt like it really suffered from not having Agnès Godard operating the camera, and I hope their collaboration does continue in the future. Denis said somewhere that Agnès was "tired" after Un beau soleil intérieur, which hopefully is not a euphemism for a bigger split between the two. I need to give the film a second viewing - revisiting Trouble Every Day in the aftermath of my first viewing of this was kind of a tough reminder of what I felt was missing here. I enjoyed High Life but it lacked those sublime cinematic peaks of much of her other work.

MongooseCmr
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#43 Post by MongooseCmr » Tue May 07, 2019 2:33 pm

I read somewhere that shooting locations for tax credits prevented Godard from working with her usual crew, so she sat this one out

nitin
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Re: High Life (Claire Denis, 2019)

#44 Post by nitin » Mon Jul 08, 2019 11:07 am

One of the films of the decade for me, absolutely stunning and I personally found it quite emotional too. Kudos to Pattinson for really picking some interesting projects and directors to work with.

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