J.G. Ballard’s dystopian novel High-Rise (1975) takes place in a block of five apartment towers on the Thames River, the first-occupied of which, with 1,000 units and about 2,000 residents, gradually descends into barbarism. Ballard was writing at the tail end of England’s postwar boom in tower-block construction, when the practical drawbacks of such housing communities had become impossible to ignore. Forty years later, the book’s topical moment may have passed, but it still holds up as an urban Lord of the Flies, and given the enduring cult reputation of David Cronenberg’s Crash (1996), adapted from another Ballard novel, you can see how someone might have bankrolled a modestly budgeted screen version of High-Rise. Unfortunately, “modestly budgeted” doesn’t cut it where High-Rise is concerned, because capturing Ballard’s vision onscreen would require hundreds of speaking roles and the art-direction resources of a Pirates of the Caribbean sequel. Continue reading >>