Eating the Dog: Reflecting on Wheately’s High-Rise


This week, I saw the film adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise, at last. I adore this novel, and I’d been tweeting incessantly [obsessively] about the movie for months. The teaser trailer was brilliant, its cast stellar, and its source material seriously, seriously fucked up.

It surprised me, then, how conflicted I felt about the movie itself.

Let’s be clear: I love this book–so much so that I made an argument about it a major plot point in a 00Q fic (in which it’s Bond’s favorite novel). For that reason, I’m keenly aware that some of my quibbles (which I won’t detail here) spring from the well of “That’s not how I pictured that.” Those sorts of qualms are relatively easy for me to set aside.

What bothered me more, in the end, was that Ben Wheately’s film effectively negated the thing about the novel that I love the most: its ambiguity, its refusal to bow to causality, its embrasure of chaos within what looks like a tidy narrative structure.

Spoilers for the book and the movie below.

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With Pleasure

Spoilers for Skyfall. If you haven’t seen it–and you want to–don’t read this.

I’m a great fan of James Bond pictures, from Goldfinger to Goldeneye. I grew up watching them cut and compressed on TBS: Bond marathons at Christmas, then endless videotape reruns of From Russia With Love to get me through the rest of the year.

I was in high school when the franchise rebooted in 1995, bringing Bond face-to-face with the end of the Cold War and me nose-to-nose with Pierce Brosnan.

Ah yes.

My brother could tell you totally spurious stories of my reaction to the swimming scene in Goldeneye when we saw it in the theatre. Spurious, yes. But also true.

What can I say? I’ve got good taste in spies.

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