Posts Tagged ‘Tom Hiddleston’

Tom Hiddleston

Tom Hiddleston

“HIGH-RISE” My rating: C+

119 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Duration is the enemy of allegory.

At 50 minutes Ben Wheatley’s “High-Rise” would have been a stunning achievement — a vicious, snarling, breathless satire of class warfare and social apocalypse.

At two hours, though, it’s a slog, one that very nearly wears out its welcome and ends up repeating itself like a 33-record with a track-skipping scratch.

Screenwriter Amy Jump’s adaptation of the 1975 novel by J.G. Ballard (Crash) bears more than a few  similarities to William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and especially to the the recent cult hit “Snowpiercer.”  Just replace the hermetically sealed high-speed train with an equally isolated high-rise apartment complex.

We are introduced to this modern Tower of Babel through the new tenant, Liang (Tom Hiddleston, who seems to be everywhere nowadays: “I Saw the Light,” TV’s “The Night Manager,” Marvel movies).  An unmarried M.D. with more money than he knows what to do with, Liang takes an apartment about halfway up the 30-plus story edifice.

The tower has all the amenities of a decent-sized town: health spa, swimming pool, school, a traditional English garden on the rooftop complete with livestock. There’s even a grocery store that sells only generic products (“Thank you for shopping on floor 15”). Alas, the place is chilly and sterile, all poured concrete and glass. Which is fine with Liang, who has no furniture and never gets around to unpacking his boxes.

It quickly dawns on the newcomer that the building has a social pecking order.  Towering over everyone else in his penthouse is the symbolically named Royal (Jeremy Irons), the architect who designed the building and is forever tinkering with improvements meant to validate his experiment in social engineering.

Just below Royal are the wealthy aristocrats embodied by the sneering, pompous Pangbourne (James Purfoy).

Then come the mid-level residents like Liang and Charlotte (Sienna Miller), the salacious single mom whose bright young son (Louis Suc) is building what looks like a homemade bomb.

Below Liang are residents like Wilder (“The Hobbit’s” Luke Evans), an aggressive and rabble-rousing documentary film maker, and his ever-pregnant wife Helen (Elisabeth Moss). (more…)

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Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams

Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams

“I SAW THE LIGHT” My rating: C-

123 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The Hank Williams songbook runs deep and rich, which makes the shallow ineffectiveness of “I Saw the Light” all that much more dispiriting.

Williams, of course, was the country/western genius who in the late ’40s and early ’50s produced some of popular music’s most lasting tunes (“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Cold Cold Heart,” “Hey Good Lookin’,” “Lovesick Blues,” “Jambalaya,” “I Can’t Help It,” “Move It On Over,” Kaw-Liga”) then succumbed to drugs and alcohol, dying at age 29 in the back seat of a limousine on New Year’s Day 1953.

The story has been told cinematically once before, in “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” with Coppertone poster boy George Hamilton in the lead role. That 1964 release remains the best screen treatment of Williams’ life and music.

Going in, my hopes were high for “I Saw the Light.”

I was looking forward to seeing what Brit actor Tom Hiddleston (a scene stealer as the evil Loki in the “Thor”/Marvel franchises) could bring to the role of  an iconic American country artist.

And there was hope behind the camera as well, inasmuch as writer/director Marc Abraham had helmed the solid 2008 biopic “Flash of Genius” (about the inventor of the variable-speed windshield wiper, who sued the Detroit carmakers over patent infringement) and produced films ranging from “The Commitments” to “Dawn of the Dead” and “Children of Men.”

Well, “I Saw the Light” gets the music right, though there’s not near as much of it as there could have been.

But as drama this one is dead in the water.

The major issue here is Abraham’s lack of a coherent vision. What story is he telling here? He throws around a lot of ideas but never settles on one that can carry the weight of a two-hour-plus feature film. (more…)

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