Rising To The Occasion: Ben Wheatley’s Cinematic Baker’s Dozen

Ahead of the release of his JG Ballard adaptation High-Rise, director Ben Wheatley talks Ian Schultz through his 13 all-time favourite films

Ever since Ben Wheatley made Down Terrace in 2008, he has been changing perceptions of what British film can be. Down Terrace was a mixture of social realist filmmaking in the mould of Mike Leigh and the gangster film, since it just happened to involve a crime family. He followed it with Kill List, which built on what he accomplished in Down Terrace but with added liberal doses of The Wicker Man.

His three most recent films have seen Wheatley have a go at a wide variety of genres. From pitch black comedy in Sightseers to medieval acid western in A Field in England. His latest, High-Rise, is certainly his most ambitious and most accomplished film to date. The film is based on the prophetic novel by British science fiction writer J.G. Ballard, who wrote it all the way back in 1975, although its depiction of a hierarchical society falling into chaos seems even more topical in our current political environment.

High-Rise also marks the first time Wheatley has relied entirely on a professional cast, including ‘movie stars’ like Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons and Sienna Miller. It probably cost more than all four of his other films combined, and it shows in the astonishing production values. Making the film required Wheatley to go to Jeremy Thomas, one of the few producers willing to take a risk on such daring material.

During an interview in the Ballardian nightmare that is the Trinity Shopping Centre in Leeds, I was able to talk to Ben Wheatley about both the obvious and the unexpected influences on his work.

High-Rise is out in UK cinemas on Friday, click on the images to cycle through Ben’s choices

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