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Reviews and SPOILERS

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Thu Jan 14, 2010 8:32 pm

http://www.bigpicturebigsound.com/Fish-Tank.shtml

Fish Tank Movie Review By David Kempler
Rating (out of four): three stars
Fresh "Fish"

Mia (Kate Jarvis) is a 15-year-old wild child. She lives in an area of England where drugs are everywhere and hope has been replaced by alcohol, drugs, unemployment, well you get the picture. She is no longer attending school, instead spending her time practicing dancing to hip-hop videos in an abandoned apartment complex, fighting with her mother and engaging in mini-turf-wars with the other young women in the area. She fits in with no one. The other girls hang out in packs. She is a lone wolf. Mia has nothing to hold onto other than her anger and self-loathing. Her mother, Joanne (Kierston Wareing), spends most of her day drunk or looking for a man. Mia also has a younger sister who is already drinking, smoking cigarettes and cursing like a longshoreman. This is not a happy sitcom family whose problems are along the lines of "failing to do homework".

Into her home life comes Connor (Michael Fassbender), a good-looking young man who has fallen in love with Joanne after meeting her at a party. Connor is different than everyone else. He sticks out because he projects goodness and happiness, something that exists nowhere else in "Fish Tank". From the very first moment, we know that Mia is attracted to him, She doesn't totally understand her feelings but she knows she is attracted to him physically and that she is equally fascinated by his always happy demeanor. He treats her like a human being.

Soon afterwards he moves in with the three ladies and Joanne falls in love with Connor. Mia's feelings for Connor grow but Connor plays the part of father figure only. His presence hurls her into a minor positive metamorphosis. All that changes when the two of them find themselves alone in the living room and they are both drunk. Sex happens. The playing field is now greatly altered. Mia wants a relationship with Connor but he realizes the gravity of what he has done and moves out without saying a word.

This is where "Fish Tank" unravels a little bit. Mia hunts him down and commits heinous acts. While it is powerful to watch, it doesn't ring as true as everything that preceded it. Nevertheless, "Fish Tank" is an original. All of the performances are believable. They are real people, especially Kate Jarvis, who does an outstanding job as the disaffected Mia. And let's not forget writer-director Andrea Arnold who also does great work, despite my quibbling with the borderline bizarre scenes in the latter part of the film.
Movie title
Fish Tank
Release year
2009
MPAA Rating
NR
Our rating
three stars
Summary
A 15-year-old wild child ends up involved with her mother's boyfriend in this stark examination of disaffected lives.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Thu Jan 14, 2010 8:32 pm

http://www.praguepost.com/night-and-day/cinema/3274-the-real-in-realism.html

The 'real' in realism
A breakout performance captures teen angst

Posted: January 13, 2010

By James Walling - Staff Writer
The 'real' in realism

Picking a fight with fate. Newcomer Katie Jarvis shines in Arnold's Fish Tank.

The work of writer/director Andrea Arnold is the strongest argument for the potency of auteurism to come along in a very long time. This relative newcomer captured a jury prize at Cannes last year with an arresting and shockingly well-made film about the obstacles faced by a 15-year-old girl living in working-class Essex.

Arnold made the inspired choice of pairing veteran Irish method actor Michael Fassbender with the unknown and untrained Katie Jarvis. The former is one of the strongest male leads working today, while the latter, though young and inexperienced, gives the performance of the year, instantly establishing herself as a first-rate talent.

Before I unleash a torrent of praise, however, it must be noted that Fish Tank is a very grim tale. It's a beautiful, painful take on a hard-nosed, hip-hop Lolita, told from the perspective of the troubled youth. There is no moral, no redeeming message, no point being made. This is documentary realism, and the subject matter is deeply troubling.

That said, the film has a tremendous amount going for it. The storyline follows young Mia (Jarvis) as she kicks around her rundown shambles of a neighborhood, evading her verbally abusive mother and sister (granted, she gives as good as she gets), getting into fights, drinking, stealing and generally causing trouble. Her one refuge is hip-hop - dance, mainly - and her passion for the art form is her only ambition. When her mother brings home a man (Fassbender), things become progressively more complicated as an initially harmless flirtation develops into illegality. Needless to say, things come to a head and the true vulnerability and disfunctionality of Mia's situation is underscored.
Fish Tank
Directed by Andrea Arnold
With Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender

Fish Tank evokes an unusual jumble of cinematic trends: There is the gritty realism of Kids (1995), Raising Victor Vargas (2002) and The Wire, as well as the magical cinematography and ethereal aesthetic of art-house giants like the Polish brothers (Twin Falls Idaho, Northfork) and Wim Wenders (Paris, Texas; Wings of Desire; The Million Dollar Hotel, etc.). As Mia slinks down alleys and practices dance moves, surreal imagery infuses the story with poetry. There is the scrawny, chained-up white horse that she repeatedly tries to set free. There is the titular fish, plucked from a grungy river by the bare hands of her seducer. Gritty meets pretty as cinematographer Robbie Ryan and editor Nicolas Chaudeurge intersperse the fast-paced, kinetic hand-held camerawork with fine-art photography fit for installation in a gallery.

Arnold's script is authentic and unaffected. Her narrative point of view is nonjudgmental, with no polemic against poverty or sexual abuse. Arnold's sole aim seems to be to capture the essence of her characters' lives - their humanity - and in this she succeeds. Perhaps she succeeds too well, as the final product is far more bitter than sweet. Moments that seem pregnant with the promise of mirth inevitably turn grim. Ironically, it is the grimmest moment of all that veers into something like fun, if for no other reason than the sheer absurdity of watching Mia say farewell to her mother and sister via a low-key dance sequence set to Nas' "Life's a Bitch."

Strong writing and technical prowess aside, Fish Tank is an actor's movie, and the performances dominate the film. Fassbender is as engaging as he was in the festival of pain that was his award-winning portrayal of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. Jarvis and a similarly unknown Rebecca Griffiths (in the role of Mia's sister) meet Fassbender's talent head-on, with one or the other stealing virtually every scene. Kierston Wareing doesn't have a lot to do as Mia's drink-sodden, paltry excuse of a mother, but she comes through at key moments, adding dimensionality to the portrait of domestic chaos with small gestures and glances that carry more meaning than a paragraph of exposition.

Fish Tank isn't an enjoyable film, and it's probably not destined for massive mainstream success. But it is too good to dismiss as gratuitous, and much too artfully pieced together to ignore.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Jan 15, 2010 1:27 am

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/17/movies/17fish.html

Social Realism in a Poetic Lens
Holly Horner/IFC Films

“Fish Tank,” starring Katie Jarvis and Michael Fassbender, explores life in an underprivileged and socially challenged world.

By GRAHAM FULLER
Published: January 14, 2010

IN Andrea Arnold’s new film, “Fish Tank,” an unsmiling 15-year-old named Mia (Katie Jarvis), who lives in a housing project in Essex, in England, becomes close to the boyfriend of her uncaring mother. The man, an Irish charmer named Connor, played by Michael Fassbender, gives her money and lends her his video camera so that she can tape herself dancing to hip-hop. It soon becomes apparent that the relationship between Mia and Connor is becoming dangerously intimate.

Movie Review | 'Fish Tank': A Reckless Teenager, Seeking Solitude Yet Craving Connection (January 15, 2010)

Ms. Arnold shot “Fish Tank” in a raw, nonjudgmental and observational style with plenty of hand-held camerawork. The film, which was in the United States on Friday, is recognizably the work of the same unflinching filmmaker who made “Red Road” (2006) and “Wasp,” which won the 2005 Oscar for best live-action short. The consistent look and the working-class milieu of Ms. Arnold’s films align them with the three British directors most associated with social realism: Ken Loach, Mike Leigh and Alan Clarke, who died in 1990.

The difficulties in Britain of raising money to make films prohibits cohesive movements in the national cinema, and like other directors who have worked in a social realist style — including Gary Oldman (the actor, who directed “Nil by Mouth”), Carine Adler (“Under the Skin”), Lynne Ramsay (“Ratcatcher”) and Duane Hopkins (“Better Things”) — Ms. Arnold is something of a lone voice. Her reputation as an auteur could come to rest on whether her films successfully harness her chosen style to express social themes, or whether they are merely anecdotes that look like Mr. Loach’s films.

Ms. Arnold admits to being a fan of Mr. Loach, but is hesitant about making claims for herself as a social realist. “I guess I am,” she allowed during a recent telephone interview. “When people have suggested it, I’ve said, ‘Oh, am I?’ I know it sounds kind of mad, but I just get on and make my films in my own way as best I can. I’m not aware that I’m joining any group. I know that all the people that have made similar films in the past paved the way for me to be able to do it, and I’m obviously influenced by what came before, but I’m not that conscious of it.”

The subject had come up when it was mentioned to Ms. Arnold that a letter published in the British cinema magazine Sight & Sound had ridiculed the notion that she belongs in the same company as Mr. Loach, and went on to claim that “Fish Tank” “offers little insight into social relations, precisely because it isn’t grounded in reality.” The letter went on to accuse “Fish Tank” of “self-satisfied issue-skirting.”

Ms. Arnold, who hadn’t read the letter, responded cautiously when told about it. “I write what I know about, what I understand,” she said. “Usually when I start writing, I don’t have an intellectual idea about it, I just write about the characters as truthfully as I can, using my imagination.

“I hear filmmakers saying, ‘I wanted to make to make a film about this issue, or this theme,’ but I never start like that,” she said. “I always think from the image or from the character outwards. And usually the image has got a character that I can then go and explore.”

Nick James, the editor of Sight & Sound, nonetheless views her films within a context. “Without a doubt both ‘Red Road’ and ‘Fish Tank’ come from the British social realist tradition,” Mr. James said via e-mail. “But it’s a more semi-poetic strain arguably than that explored by Loach, who is nonetheless the godfather of Arnold’s generation of British filmmakers.”

Despite Ms. Arnold’s admission that her films are not issue driven, her characters move in a socially challenged world. In “Red Road” a Glasgow woman, Jackie (Kate Dickie), who monitors public closed-circuit video screens, stalks the former addict who killed her husband and child in a driving accident and infiltrates the threatening high-rise where he lives. There she meets an indigent young couple and seduces her quarry in order to incriminate him as a rapist. Although a tale of revenge, the film leaves an impression of underprivileged people living in quiet desperation.

“Fish Tank” was clearly named for Mia’s entrapment in the high-rise where she lives, but Ms. Arnold — who was raised in public housing in Dartford, Kent — refuses to condemn the apartments where Mia’s family lives. “Some people have said to me, ‘Oh, that bleak estate,’ but I think it’s very normal,” Ms. Arnold said. “Probably in Britain there are more people living like that than there are living in nice Victorian terraced houses. I tried to make the sound design of the film a celebration of the people living on that estate enjoying themselves. There’re all kinds of things in the film that counteract a bleak picture.”

Asked why she shoots in a realistic style, Ms. Arnold said: “I want to make it feel like we’ve dropped in on some people’s lives. With a lot of films, people are sitting on the outside looking in, but I want the audience to get a bit more intimately involved with what’s going on, so that they maybe can experience it a little bit more intensely.”

This can sometimes collide with ideas about social realism. Both “Red Road” and “Fish Tank” turn into morally complex revenge dramas. “Most social realist films are genre films in disguise,” Mr. James observed. “Loach’s films are all melodramas, the Dardennes brothers’ films are often played-down thrillers.” Mia’s drastic response to her altered circumstances at the climax of “Fish Tank” “takes the film to another level of metaphor and meaning,” he said. “Neither enhances the sense of realism.”

Nor does Ms. Arnold’s use of lyricism, typified by two scenes in which Connor carries Mia. First he lifts her from her mother’s bed as she feigns sleep and takes her into her own room. Later she cuts her foot, and he gives her a piggyback ride to his car. Both sequences enter a dreamy erotic space, Ms. Arnold focusing on Mia’s unspoken reaction to physical contact with Connor.

“I was constantly trying to find a way to feel what she’s thinking, and experimented with those moments to try and find that place,” Ms. Arnold said. “If I’d been thinking, ‘I’m going to make a social realist film,’ then perhaps I wouldn’t have done things like that and something would have been lost.”
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Jan 15, 2010 1:34 am

http://insidemovies.moviefone.com/2010/01/14/fish-tank-movie-reviews/

'Fish Tank' Movie Reviews

* January 14, 2010
* |
* By: Allyssa Lee

The latest from writer-director Andrea Arnold (an Oscar-winner for her 2004 short 'Wasp') is 'Fish Tank,' a gritty look at the seamy underbelly of lower class England.

The film stars young newcomer Katie Jarvis as Mia, an unruly, tempestuous teenager living in the outskirts of London with her bratty younger sister (Rebecca Griffiths) and her boozy, floozy mother (Kierston Wareing). A surly 15-year-old, Mia's only outlet for her pent up aggressions is hip-hop dancing in an abandoned apartment. That is, until her mother's dashing new boyfriend (Michael Fassbender of 'Inglourious Basterds') shows up and takes an interest in her as well.

The movie, which won the Jury Prize at last year's Cannes Film Festival, has been racking up acclaim for its gritty realism as well as its mesmerizing star. Check out the reviews below, and then let us know what you think.

New York Magazine: "In 'Fish Tank,' nothing goes right, yet Mia's fate never seems preordained. Her constant motion might or might not be her salvation, but it keeps you in suspense until the last frame -- and beyond."

Entertainment Weekly: "Mia (Katie Jarvis) is a cauldron of teen-girl sullenness and yearning in the vivid British drama 'Fish Tank' -- we can't take our eyes off her, even if her anger is familiar to audiences of the subgenre of cinematic realism classified as British miserablism. ... Such a tight, hand-held, close-up study of an inarticulate young woman trapped by the luck of life's bad draw -- might skitter toward have-not cliché. But writer-director Andrea Arnold ('Red Road'), an astute chronicler of lower-class turf, mostly steers clear of the expected, especially with the remarkable Jarvis in the lead ..."

Associated Press: "Arnold made a remarkable find with her teen lead, Katie Jarvis, who had not acted before but proves a natural, at least for the sort of honest intensity the filmmaker needed to anchor the story. ... Jarvis' Mia is a ferocious, hankering spirit, desperate for positive connections with people, compassionate and empathetic despite her prickly exterior. She makes some bad choices and learns that adults often are no better than teenagers at doing the right thing. Mia just learns it in a more drastic way than most youths do."

Time Out London: "Andrea Arnold's follow-up to 'Red Road' is a film that brilliantly and sensitively buzzes with life and offers its very own take on our world and our city. It delivers in spades attitude, humour, sadness, love, anger and hope -- all wrapped up in a way of telling stories that is very much the director's own. It's realism, but it has an intimacy, an immediacy and a dash of poetry that offers a new spin on familiar territory."

Village Voice: "Whether Jarvis is a natural-born actress or is simply playing herself as Mia, a foul-mouthed, 15-year-old child of the Essex projects with a gift for raising the roof wherever she goes, she gives a ferociously persuasive performance in an otherwise routine tale of domestic disaster."

The New York Observer: "Michael Fassbender ... is in top form in 'Fish Tank.' But the real star is Katie Jarvis, a newcomer with no previous experience who plays a teenage social misfit in a bleak housing project looking for love in all the wrong places. It's a debut both raw and astonishing."
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Jan 15, 2010 1:46 am

http://www.avclub.com/articles/fish-tank,37084/
B-
Fish Tank
by Noel Murray January 14, 2010

* Director: Andrea Arnold
* Cast: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing
* Rated: Not Rated
* Running time: 123 minutes
*

When O.J. Simpson was acquitted of double murder in 1995, some suggested that the case went south because the LAPD “tried to frame a guilty man.” The same could be said of Fish Tank, a domestic drama from Red Road writer-director Andrea Arnold. Arnold elicits a remarkably natural performance from first-timer Katie Jarvis, who plays a working-class Essex teen living with her ill-tempered mother, her precocious sister, and her mom’s live-in boyfriend, Michael Fassbender. Whenever Fish Tank honestly explores how Jarvis regards Fassbender—as a combination mentor/ersatz father/object of desire—the movie is a small marvel, keenly attuned to what it’s like for a child to become aware of her sexual power. But Arnold can’t rest on realism, and keeps rigging the plot to make Jarvis’ situation sadder and more archetypal.

Throughout Fish Tank, Arnold returns to Jarvis’ infatuation with a painfully symbolic white horse, chained up near her council estate. Arnold also has the TV in Jarvis’ apartment constantly tuned to opulent music videos or “look at my awesome house” shows—all to remind the audience that Jarvis feels bound at chain’s-length from what she really wants. And when Jarvis learns some heartbreaking secrets about Fassbender, her reaction briefly turns Fish Tank into a potboiler suspense movie, as though everyday drama weren’t dramatic enough. Arnold’s “please don’t miss the point” campaign culminates in the movie’s strained final image, which compares Jarvis to an abandoned party balloon, yearning to be untethered.

Fish Tank’s groaningly obvious passages wouldn’t be so aggravating if Arnold didn’t get so much right. The movie is unusually sensitive to the ways young people pick up their cues on how to act like adults, and how awkwardly they practice what they’ve learned. Jarvis looks like a lovely young woman at times, then comes off as small and fragile when she’s riding in the back seat of Fassbender’s car, or when she’s pretending to be asleep while he tucks her into bed. Arnold understands how teenagers act tougher than they actually are, and the way their seduction rituals often involve running around like preschoolers. But Fish Tank’s subplot about Jarvis’ dream to be a street dancer hits these points too hard, overemphasizing Jarvis’ lack of confidence in her own sexuality. In that way, Jarvis is a lot like Arnold: an artist who knows the steps, but doesn’t yet have all the moves.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:09 am

http://www.cinemaspeak.com/words/?p=249

Fish Tank

by Warren Curry
1/14/10
07
Andrea Arnold defies the sophomore slump with “Fish Tank,” the exceptional follow up to her striking 2006 debut, “Red Road.” Taking cues from fellow British cinema realist Ken Loach, Arnold’s warm but gritty tale about a working class teenage girl coming-of-age in contemporary London is like a raw version of last year’s widely praised “An Education.”

And much like Loach, Arnold displays a gift for drawing gripping performances from inexperienced actors. Katie Jarvis, making her acting debut, imbues protagonist Mia with the type of unembellished fire and tough spirit that feels like it comes directly from life experience. Mia is the film’s unwavering focal point, full of anger, ready to do battle with the world. She lives with her 30-something-going-on-16 single mother (Kierston Wareing) and equally feisty younger sister, Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths), in the middle of a decaying concrete jungle neighborhood. The girl also loves hip-hop style dancing as much as she enjoys picking fights with family members and peers.

All this spunk seems destined to go to waste without any sort of positive influence in her life, which sets the stage for the arrival of her mother’s new boyfriend, Connor (Michael Fassbender). Connor, all smiles and full of encouraging words, appears to be the missing ingredient that just may be turn this ragtag clan into at least a semi-functional family unit. Predictably, Mia’s attitude toward the newcomer is at first standoffish, but she soon starts to develop an uneasy fondness for the man. As that innocent fondness grows into mutual affection, it becomes apparent the relationship may be heading down a forbidden path.

Though the film brims with kinetic energy, thanks in large part to the herky-jerky camera movement and jumpy, fractured editing, Arnold patiently lets the story develop. Connor comes across as a genuinely affable, comforting adult — a father figure to Tyler, who desperately needs a responsible adult presence in her life (her mother doesn’t come close to fitting the bill), and an understanding, sympathetic friend to Mia. As his intentions gradually become less altruistic, an ugly side of the character is revealed that one simply wishes didn’t exist. Mia isn’t always easy to like, but there is something about her determination, her utter lack of pretension and even her recklessness that wins the viewer over (if it doesn’t win you over, it’s fairly safe to say the film won’t either).

There’s no easy dose of sentimentality to wash the occasional bitter taste away. Arguably, the film’s most difficult moments arrive in its final third when the decisions Mia makes threaten to have dire consequences. Mia is a warts-and-all character, hardly the blueprint for a traditional movie protagonist. But thanks to Jarvis’s scrappy performance, and Arnold’s ability to harness the actor’s energy to make her every move seem so spontaneous, we never want to take our eyes off Mia as she fitfully attempts to grow into a woman.

Because the filmmaker’s focus is on character rather than a heavily plotted story, the two-hour running time does feel a bit excessive. A few late scenes involving Mia’s interaction with an unexpected character could’ve been slightly trimmed without losing much, if anything, in the process. Arnold, however, is a director who puts a heavy emphasis on realism, and if that means she lets a few scenes run long while trying to achieve her preferred tone, it’s an easy flaw to overlook.

And that’s one of the few flaws to be found in Arnold’s first two features, which have both won the Jury Prize at Cannes. With a confident directorial style that borrows from the right places while maintaining a sense of individuality, “Fish Tank” solidifies Arnold’s spot as a legitimately exciting new voice in cinema.

contact: wcurry718@yahoo.com

FISH TANK (UK/2009)

Director: Corneliu Porumboiu

Cast: Dragos Bucur, Vlad Ivanov, Ion Stocia, Irina Saulescu

Not Rated, 113 minutes

(IFC Films; opens in limited release on December 23, 2009)
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:14 am

http://kosu.org/2010/01/in-a-bleak-london-life-a-few-flashes-of-color/

In A Bleak London Life, A Few Flashes Of Color

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
January 14, 2010

One summer morning, 15-year-old Mia Williams trudges downstairs, suffering from a massive hangover. Before facing the wrath of her casually abusive mother, she stops to take a long drink straight from the kitchen tap. That writer-director Andrea Arnold has crafted a scene that approaches a literal embodiment of the term “kitchen-sink drama” here is most likely coincidence; nevertheless, her film is a bold new entry in that long-standing British tradition of disquieting social realism.

Like the directors who have defined the genre, Arnold is unflinching in her examination of the British underclass. Yet despite all the despair on display, the director manages to find glimpses of beauty amid the blight in Essex, a London-adjacent landscape dominated by scrubby vacant lots, broken chain-link fences and depressing public housing.

Mia (Katie Jarvis) seems fairly typical of the wayward kids growing up in this harsh environment — which is to say she already has a burgeoning drinking problem, a tendency toward impulsive violence and a good chance of reform school in her future. Her 12-year-old sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths) isn’t far behind, smoking and cursing like some Cockney stevedore.

Arnold envisions Mia as a vulnerable soul, barely protected by her glowering tough-girl facade; she’s taken enough abuse that her heart goes soft whenever she sees an innocent mistreated. Spotting an emaciated horse chained up in a makeshift trailer park, she immediately attempts to free it. It’s an action motivated by kindness, but easily mistaken for juvenile delinquency. Her reward is violent retribution.

Jarvis, a first-time actor discovered by Arnold on a train platform, gives a startlingly direct performance. She’s on screen in nearly every frame, and beautifully navigates the lightning-fast emotional changes behind Mia’s fragile and shifting fronts. These shifts are only magnified by the appearance of Connor, her mother’s new boyfriend; he’s bright and charismatic, and has a calming effect on the tempestuous Williams women. In him, there is the potential for a caring father figure, a potential that is complicated by an uneasy sexual tension between him and Mia. It’s an uncomfortable dynamic that Arnold tackles with remarkable candor.

As Connor, Michael Fassbender continues a magnificent run of performances. In three roles over the past year — from his harrowing turn as Bobby Sands in Hunger to the suave film critic-cum-military spy he played in Inglourious Basterds — he’s displayed more range than many actors manage in a career. Here, Arnold requires the actor to find a precise balancing point between fatherly tenderness and predatory sexual menace, never giving away which is motivating him. His great success lies in his ability to convey both in a single action or expression; the measured ambiguity he delivers results in a combination of surprise and inevitability when Connor finally comes into clear focus.

What glimmers of hope the film may offer are severely undercut by the knowledge that reprieves for young women such as Mia has are generally short-lived. Escape routes are never as easy to travel as they appear from a distance, a point the film makes with cruel efficiency when Mia tries to make good on her dream of becoming a dancer. Her story is simply another sad revolution in an ongoing cycle, captured bravely here by Arnold.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:19 am

http://www.kamwilliams.com/2010/01/fish-tank-british.html

Thursday, January 14, 2010
Fish Tank (BRITISH)

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Sordid Love Triangle at Center of Searing Brit Melodrama

This searing, coming-of-age saga, written and directed by Brit Andrea Arnold (Red Road), gets my vote as the best cinematic release of the first two weeks of 2010, if that means much. Last year, the movie made a big splash on the other side of the pond where it reeled in awards at film festivals in Cannes, England, Norway, Scotland and Croatia.

Despite the film’s title (and my employing every aquatic allusion I could think of in the previous sentence), the movie doesn’t revolve around a fish tank. Still, that might be the best way to describe the modest flat which serves as the setting for the picture’s lead characters sharing the cramped confines of an increasingly-claustrophobic, pressure cooker.

Joanne Williams (Kierston Wareing) doesn’t look old enough to have a 15 year-old daughter, and the immature single-mom certainly doesn’t behave in a responsible enough fashion to be raising Mia (Katie Jarvis) and her kid sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths). First of all, she’s an irascible, foul-mouthed lush, traits she’s already passed on to her troubled teenager.

Consequently, Mia has ended up an angry, friendless alcoholic who’s always at odds with the world. This is not a healthy frame of mind when you’re stuck in the forbidding environs of the Essex projects, a maze of cold, towering edifices, each overlooking the vast, soulless wasteland of a totally-defoliated concrete jungle.

At the point of departure, it is established that Mia is a wanksta (white gangsta) who loves to dress, walk and talk hip hop-style, plus she’s doing her best to teach herself to breakdance in order to enter a competition. But she also like boys, and lands in hot water after head-butting a classmate whom she considers competition. Between that infraction and the booze, it isn’t long before Mia isn’t going to school anymore, but instead hanging out at home and contemplating working as a stripper.

A little hope comes into the rudderless juvenile’s life the morning Connor (Michael Fassbender) staggers out of her mother’s bedroom after a one-night stand. He compliments gyrating Mia by telling her that, “You dance like a black,” and it isn’t long before he further ingratiates himself with the needy girls as her new father figure.

Too bad sexually-impulsive Joanne hadn’t bothered to determine whether the guy was married, had any kids or was a pervert before introducing him to her daughters. For, there is only danger in store as she endeavors to cobble a relationship with a pedophile who’s just waiting for the right moment to pounce on emotionally-vulnerable Mia.

Trouble in Cockneyland.



Excellent (4 stars)

Unrated

Running time: 122 Minutes

Distributor: IFC Films
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:31 am

http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/movies/brawl_in_the_family_c1bZ07UYqWo4GoPoy9WiZM

Brawl in the family

Last Updated: 12:05 AM, January 15, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW

FISH TANK Tanks for nothing. Running time: 123 minutes. Not rated (violence, profanity). At the Lincoln Plaza and the IFC Center.

* * *

British filmmaker An drea Arnold follows up her 2006 art-house hit "Red Road" with another look at the lower middle classes, "Fish Tank."

The heroine of the first film was a woman who toiled behind a spy-camera monitor in a tough part of Glasgow.

"Fish Tank" takes place in a grim housing project near London that is home to Mia, a volatile, foulmouthed 15-year-old outsider who isn't averse to head-butting another girl.

She lives with her mother and little sister and isn't very happy, except perhaps when she's dancing to hip-hop in an abandoned flat.

Newcomer Katie Jarvis delivers a star-making performance as Mia in "Fish Tank," a look at Britain's lower middle class.

At first, Mia's upset when Mum's new boyfriend moves into their apartment. But Mia finds herself attracted to the handsome stranger, probably because he's one of the few people who treats her with kindness.

Arnold, who also scripted, has a fine grasp of this kind of life. (Comparisons to Mike Leigh and Ken Loach are appropriate.)

As Mia, first-timer Katie Jarvis gives a realistic and sensitive performance, perhaps drawing on her own life. The filmmaker discovered her arguing with her boyfriend on a train platform, and despite her inexperience she seems at ease in front of the camera. It's a star-making performance if ever there was one.

Michael Fassbender, who won praise as IRA martyr Bobby Sands in "Hunger" and an anti-Nazi fighter in "Inglourious Basterds," is a presence here, too, as the mysterious boyfriend, who isn't what he at first seems.

Kierston Wareing and Rebecca Griffiths acquit themselves handsomely as the mother and the younger sister, respectively.

"Fish Tank" is grim, to be sure, but it leaves us with a feeling of hopefulness
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Jan 16, 2010 12:06 am

http://tomshone.blogspot.com/2010/01/review-fish-tank-few-of-my-favorite.html

Jan 16, 2010
REVIEW: Fish Tank, a few of my favorite things
Fish Tank is one of those nightmares to review because basically it gets a thousand little right. You're reduced to making lists. Here's what my notes would have looked like, had I made notes.: "that was good," "they got that right," "that's excellent," "oh I love that." So. First off, the girl's dancing. She's 15 years old and lives in a tower-block. Her mother couldn't give a toss. Her sister says things like, "I like you.... I'll kill you last." Every few days, Mia goes off into an empty room and blasts out hip-hop on her CD player and let's loose. The dancing is just right, which is to say it's about 75% right. The director resisted the temptation to overstage it. Mia's not perfect. She's learned these moves off the TV. But she's definitely good and she moves unselfconsciously, with an intent look on her face, lining up the next move in her head, cursing herself when she misses her footing, but resuming again almost immediately. She's practising the one thing she can make perfect about her life. Her mother's new boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender) tells her she must remember to smile. He shows up in the kitchen, stripped to his waist, one day; later he carries her to bed: my second favorite thing in the movie. It's a lovely sequence, the camera close on drowsy Mia, Conor's breathing deep and loud on the soundtrack. You can almost feel the rise and fall of his ribcage. From here on in, you know more or less where the movie is going, which is to say, slowly off the rails, but that doesn't mean you're not rapt. Watching movies like this, I'm always conscious of the balance of desperation to hope. It's so easy for directors to get wrong, to over play their hand one way or the other. Andrew Arnold has the balance of a cat.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Jan 16, 2010 12:18 am

http://hollywoodvulture.com/?p=11595

If gritty British realism is your bag, than Fish Tank is a must-see. The drama, written and directed by Andrea Arnold, who won an Oscar in 2005 for her live-action short, Wasp, centers on a disillusioned girl (newcomer Katie Jarvis) whose life changes when a complete stranger (Michael Fassbender of Inglourious Basterds) comes to stay with her family.

67In an interview with BEV Blog, Arnold, whose work has been praised for having a unique stamp that is truly her own, gave this advice to aspiring filmmakers:

“I guess trusting your intuition would require some faith and confidence but by trusting yourself that is exactly what you gain. If you try to be like someone else then how can you be confident about what you are doing? The only way is to trust yourself.

THE BUZZ: Great. Fish Tank has not only received overwhelmingly positive reviews, but it won the Jury Prize at last summer’s Cannes Film Festival. In The New York Observer, Rex Reed writes:

First-rate acting is required to bring this kind of dichotomy to life, and Ms. Arnold is an ace when it comes to drawing real emotional truths from her actors…These are not easily likable people, but Ms. Arnold’s chief talent is the way she makes us understand and even sympathize with both their flaws and attributes. The people in Fish Tank are neither good nor bad, but merely human, with elements of both.

And in New York Magazine, David Edelstein writes:

Arnold’s first feature, Red Road (2006), centers on another outsider, a woman who monitors security cameras. The film is formally brilliant, but it doesn’t have the breathtaking openness of Fish Tank…The final scenes have a transcendent mixture of hope and sadness. I’ve never seen anything like Mia’s final dance, or the leave-taking with her little sister that follows. In Fish Tank, nothing goes right, yet Mia’s fate never seems preordained. Her constant motion might or might not be her salvation, but it keeps you in suspense until the last frame—and beyond.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Jan 16, 2010 12:23 am

http://nicemovies.us/movie_news/fish-tank-teenage-wasteland-by-kurt-loder/

Jan 15 2010 11:03 AM EST
'Fish Tank': Teenage Wasteland, By Kurt Loder
First-time actress Katie Jarvis is an instant star in an unusual new film from England.

Mia is a trapped and angry teen growing up in a trashy apartment complex in Essex, on the marshy eastern reaches of the Thames River. It's not all that far from London, really, but it's cultures away. She and her little sister live with their boozy mom, an aging party girl who's still trying to make miniskirts work for her. Mia's daily life is defined by concrete and litter, cramped rooms and cheap scuffed linoleum. There might as well be a billboard out in the scrubby parking lot announcing: "No Future."

Katie Jarvis, who plays the 15-year-old Mia, was discovered in a provincial train station after having an argument with her boyfriend. She's never acted before, but she carries every scene in "Fish Tank" with startling confidence; and with director Andrea Arnold calling the shots, she's in the best of hands.

The movie is about youthful frustration and the ways in which grownups betray kids; it's also about the way in which kids can come to accept those betrayals as just another bum card in the dismal hand that life has dealt them. Mia has never had a boyfriend, but her mother (Kierston Wareing) always likes to have a man around. The latest is Connor (Michael Fassbender, the English officer in "Inglourious Basterds"). Connor is a wiry, cheerful security guard in his early thirties who sleeps over with mom on a regular basis. He's sweet to the two girls, and Mia starts to see him as a stabilizing, dad-like presence; she likes him. Already we can feel betrayal beginning to grow in the shadows of the story.

Mia doesn't get along with the other girls in the complex — she doesn't get along with anybody, really — and she's prone to head-butt the ones who give her any guff. Like them, though, she's obsessed with working up the sort of dance routines she's seen in hip-hop music videos; and in one of the movie's several quietly beautiful scenes, we see her in an empty room dancing alone to music only she can hear in her headphones, while twilight gathers outside the windows.

After Mia sees a poster advertising auditions for young dancers, Connor encourages her to give it a shot. He also offers her a slug of vodka from a bottle he's rarely without. We slowly begin to see where this is going, but the director is in no hurry to get there. With its unemphatic hand-held camerawork, the movie feels artless and unmediated; it puts us among the characters and simply bears silent witness as their lives play out.

Arnold captures Mia's growing affection for Connor in surprising flashes: a quick shot of her hand as she grasps his shoulder to steady herself while he ties her shoe; a close-up of her intoxicated face as she inhales the scent of his cologne. And in the picture's most startlingly original scene, the director vividly captures the girl's muddled relationship with her mother: The two of them have exchanged harsh words, but then they both succumb to a song drifting out of the stereo, and begin to sway to the music. It's one of those rare movie interludes that you feel certain you've never seen before.

Arnold, who won an Oscar for her 2003 short, "Wasp," has a forthright style that can shade into rapture, and her presence is never apparent in the scenes she creates. She takes the story in unexpected directions that seem inevitable only in retrospect; and in the process, she turns Jarvis into a star. The picture offers hope at the end, but it's qualified. Can Mia escape her stifling life? And even if she can, how far can she really run?
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Jan 16, 2010 12:25 am

http://kosu.org/2010/01/fish-tank-a-teen-adrift-in-a-tough-london-suburb/

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122585823

'Fish Tank': A Teen Adrift In A Tough London Suburb

by David Edelstein

‘Fish Tank’: A Teen Adrift In A Tough London Suburb

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
January 15, 2010

From the start, I knew the British director Andrea Arnold had captured something volatile and splendid in Fish Tank. A girl named Katie Jarvis plays 15-year-old Mia, who in the first shots stares out the window of a high-rise, working-class tenement in London’s East End — the window of a vacant flat where she practices her hip-hop moves to the sound of music from tiny speakers.

Mia has been phoning and phoning her best friend after a bad fight, and she heads out angrily to find and confront the girl, who’s also practicing, outside with other girls. One calls Mia “skanky,” and Mia instantly — like lightning — head-butts her and breaks her nose. As she stomps away, you can feel her insides churn, and Arnold’s handheld camera is both on her and with her. Rage, shame, defiance, longing: There’s emotion in the camera’s every jitter and swerve.

Jarvis is in nearly every shot of Fish Tank. She has soft eyes, but her Mia is angry and defensive and has a dirty mouth; she has a feral quality that keeps you watching her closely for fear of missing something. Mia’s dancing helps to channel her feelings, but despite big dreams she’s no Billy Elliot, and her accent and snaggly English teeth remind you where she comes from. It’s her energy, her attack that convinces you she won’t go down without a fight. In interviews, Arnold said she wanted to cast a non-actress, and Jarvis was discovered on a train platform having a fight with her boyfriend and didn’t believe the casting agent who approached her was for real. Lots of directors say they’re going for non-actresses and it rarely pays off; but in this girl Arnold hit the jackpot.

Arnold’s acclaimed first feature, Red Road, centered on another outsider, a woman who monitored security cameras and spotted — then spied on — a man from her past. The film was formally brilliant, nearly wordless in its first half, but it didn’t have the abrasive power of Fish Tank. Mia is constantly under siege by her mean and narcissistic mother, played by Kierston Wareing, and even by her nasty kid sister. So when she meets her mum’s very handsome new boyfriend, Connor, his attentiveness throws her. Connor is played by the chameleonic Irish actor Michael Fassbender, who shows up at breakfast without his shirt while Mia is watching and imitating a hip-hop video.

That scene and others between Mia and Connor will conjure up so many different emotions in different viewers that a chart of one’s responses would zigzag more than an electrocardiogram. The erotic charge is strong, and so is our sense that Connor has more in common with Mia than he does with her mother, who’s older than he is and often drunk. So too is the sense that a relationship between Mia and Connor would be wrong — and perilous. In its outline if not its milieu, Fish Tank bears a resemblance to the English art-house hit An Education. But it has what that overrated film doesn’t: something fevered and amorphous that suggests its characters are unsure of their own motives, and that they’re swimming, as the title implies, in a world with few options.

Near the end, Mia is overcome with rage, and on impulse does something shocking, nearly unforgivable. The sequence goes right to the verge of tragedy, but the final scenes have a transcendent mixture of hope and sadness that lifts kitchen-sink realism to the realm of dramatic poetry. In Fish Tank, nothing for Mia goes right, yet her fate never seems preordained. Her constant motion, whether dancing, hurling obscenities or recklessly charging ahead, might be her salvation or her doom — but you don’t know, even in the last frame. That’s a sign of this movie’s open and deeply humanist vision. Copyright 2010 National Public Radio


Last edited by greyeyegoddess on Sat Jan 16, 2010 3:38 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Jan 16, 2010 12:42 am

http://www.cinemablend.com/reviews/Fish-Tank-4408.html

Length: 122 min
Rated: R
Distributor: IFC Films
Release Date: 2010-01-15

Starring: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing

Directed by Andrea Arnold
Produced by Kees Kasander
Written by Andrea Arnold

Reviewed by Katey Rich : 2010-01-15 10:36:01
Fish Tank star rating

In an industry and an art form where the majority of directors are male and most stories are about their needs and dreams, it's almost frightening to come across a character like Fish Tank's Mia. Played by nonprofessional Katie Jarvis, Mia is a bundle of contradictions, full of rage at her former friends but blind tenderness for an abused horse, constantly short-tempered with her younger sister but clearly envious of the girl's simpler view of the world. The narrative of Fish Tank is fairly basic and familiar, but thanks to Jarvis's unflinching rawness and director Andrea Arnold's instinctive handling of Mia's volatile personality, the movie feels almost miraculously fresh despite it.

Living in squalid housing projects in middle-of-nowhere Britain, Mia is spending her summer picking fights with girls who used to be her friends (she tosses in a nasty headbutt), squabbling with her sister (Charlotte Collins) who watches exclusively junk TV, and, when she's sure no one is looking, breaking into an empty apartment to practice her hip-hop dance moves. Mia isn't the most skilled dancer, but it's clear in these moments that it's the only thing for which she feels any passion; the girl unafraid to pick a violent fight suddenly too shy to breakdance in front of anyone.

Two things come to enter Mia's life that have the potential to change it. First she begins a stealth campaign to free a horse chained up in an empty lot, and after the three boys living there nearly rape her when they catch her, she strikes up something of a paradoxical friendship with one of them. He's a roughneck car repairman with not a heart of gold, exactly, but feelings other than malice, which is more than Mia can say for most of the people in her life. Second, and much more importantly to Mia, her mother (Kierston Wareing) brings home a new boyfriend, a gentle and funny Irishman named Connor (Michael Fassbender).

Mia is instantly smitten, though she has no way to show it, while Connor shows her the kind of attention that she's sorely lacked-- encouraging her dancing, laughing at her jokes, even taking her entire family out for a fishing trip. The filmmaking mimics Mia's own sexual attraction to Connor, the camera ogling him and the soundtrack reduced to the sound of his breathing, but his motivations are much fuzzier. Fassbender plays the character's every ambiguous note perfectly, and Arnold shapes the film so strongly around Mia's attraction to him that we catch ourselves from time to time rooting for a hookup that we intellectually know will be disastrous.

A third-act plot twist and a series of terrible decisions on Mia's part take Fish Tank away from the slow-burn character building, but by then we're so invested in Mia and her journey that a slight misstep like that is barely a distraction. What the third act makes irreducibly clear, though, is that Mia is essentially a child-- a child with sexual agency and a yearning to live on her own, but a 15-year-old without the ability to see beyond her own limited, angry world. Mia is a frustrating heroine and often impossible to read, but she's instinctively relatable, in a way few filmmakers would dare to tackle, and even fewer could conquer. Fish Tank isn't a perfect film, but the creation of Mia alone is its own kind of masterpiece.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:07 am

http://tcf-fish-finders.com/Fish_Tank_Review

Release Date:
Dec. 23 Director/Writer: Starring:
Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Cinematographer: Studio/Run Time:

Films, 123 mins. Cannes preferred Fish Tank drops inside the world of the British active,occupied people with least money with an attempt at documenting the very genuine in existence difficulties and struggle,battle associated with this world through its cipher Mia. Already kicked out of generally,grades 9-12 at the age of 15 and wandering without companionship or confidant among the squalor of her apartment complex, Mia spends her time skipping out on social services and musing of a lifestyle spent dancing her method,technique to fame. Not that theres much chance of this, but her mothers new boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender) seems to think so and encourages her to try recording a related to the televised image for a local dance test of ability. The pairs ability to draw attention,entity that draws attention is obvious, so its no surprise when middle through, they have sex before he at once abandons the family.

Fish Tank's story is nearly,very nearly self-consciously bleak, but still offers glimpses of hope during the whole of. Connor may be seducing Mia, but at least he has a steady paycheck and seems now and then to be wavering between becoming her lover or her father, and even his opportunistic praise not at any time seems to be a complete lie. Fassbender's mesmerizing performance keeps this equivocation at the films prominence and adds complexity to a tale without one,some,unspecified,indiscriminate unpredictable twists. The entire cast comes to feel like a family, and though dysfunctional, their emotions always ring real,valid. Its just a family put inside extreme pressures by their economic reality and society's expectations.

Director Andrea Arnolds true ability is in these performances, though the movie is strikingly beautiful for being shot in a verite style. At times this seems to glorify their poverty, but it usually isnt too invasive. Farmore causing irritation, though, is the movies writing.

Fish Tanks style and acting suggest naturalism, another attempt at capturing this story as correctly as likely,attainable, but Arnold's script contrasts against this with some clunky talk and a streak of amateurish heavy-handedness. The difference between intimate Mia-Connor scenes and Mia fact-finding a foolishly metaphorical chained equine species couldnt be greater, to the point that they seem like two completely different movies.In one, Arnold has true control of her material and in the other she feels the need to handhold its audience each step of the way.

Fish Tank is still a fulfilling movie; it just redefines women's coming-of-age films in the method,technique it ambitiously attempts to. Arnold's second feature augers the rise of a genuine in existence talent, but moreso behind the photographic equipment than behind the keyboard. The films moments of clunkiness are worth overlooking given its strength when Fish Tank stops trying to deliver a message and instead listens to its characters.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:14 am

http://www.movieline.com/2010/01/attractions-this-is-the-way-the-world-ends.php

THE UNDERDOG: Starting last year at Cannes, Fish Tank dazzled the festival circuit with its gritty portrait of Mia (Katie Jarvis), a 15-year-old aspiring dancer drunk on lower-class British rage and whatever other, more tactile narcotic she can get her hands on. Director Andrea Arnold approaches her protagonist not like the film’s title creature but as a caged animal, quickly locking the viewer in that cage alongside Mia as she attempts to kick, punch, pull and pry her way out. Her mean mother’s charming boyfriend (Michael Fassbender) calms Mia down a bit, but is he playing mentor or predator? Jarvis expresses that confusion with grace and aplomb in her first film role, and Arnold’s handheld take on the classic kitchen-sink melodramas of the ’60s is fascinating (if overlong). It’s in limited release this weekend but should hit IFC on Demand shortly; Jarvis is one to watch, and Arnold is definitely the one to watch her.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:16 am

http://www.thelmagazine.com/TheMeasure/archives/2010/01/15/your-weekend-at-the-movies-with-a-book

Fish Tank: Judging by several years' worth of press screenings, British cinema is composed almost entirely of twinkly faux-saucy underdog comedies and tedious kitchen-sink grit. Fish Tank very much belongs to the latter group, but minus the tedious stuff: Andrea Arnold's new film pulses with restless energy, and its misery isn't contagious. It's about Mia (Katie Jarvis), a poor British teenager with a lousy mum who sees the faint hope of something better in an older man—her mum's laid-back, encouraging new boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender)—and also dreams of becoming a hip-hop dancer; so, yeah, it's basically halfway between Precious and An Education, as Mark observes, plus a pinch of Step Up 2 the Streets. Why, then, did I like it at least as much as any of those movies, maybe a little more (yes, even more than Step Up 2 the Streets)? I think it has to do with the fact that we meet Mia shortly before she decks another mouthy girl in the face, and soon after she repeatedly visits a vacant lot in an apparent attempt to steal a horse. She's a fighter, but not romanticized—her dancing, for starters, is ok but unlikely to punch her ticket out of poverty. Arnold's camera tracks along her subject, capturing some lovely images of Jarvis against bummed-out English landscapes. There's scarcely a shot in the movie that isn't either of Mia, or from her point of view, and that closeness pays off with the story's creakier narrative bits. Certain developments with Connor (played wonderfully by Fassbender) will not surprise anyone, but the movie convinces us that they might surprise Mia—and lets us experience some relief that she's not surrounded by monsters, just plain old lousy human beings. Also, forgive me, but hard-drinking and cussing eleven-year-old younger sisters are just kind of hilarious. Arnold has made the kitchen sink compelling again.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:46 am

http://twi-ny.com/blog/2010/01/15/fish-tank-2/

FISH TANK (Andrea Arnold, 2009)
Opens Friday, January 15
IFC Center, 323 Sixth Ave. at Third St.
212-924-7771
Lincoln Plaza Cinema, 1886 Broadway between 62nd & 63rd Sts.
212-757-2280
www.lincolnplazacinema.com
www.ifccenter.com
www.fishtankmovie.com

Writer-director Andrea Arnold follows up her brilliant, harrowing feature debut, 2006’s RED ROAD, with the brilliant, highly perceptive, and emotionally gripping FISH TANK. Katie Jarvis, a seventeen-year-old discovered by Arnold while the girl was arguing with her boyfriend on a train station platform, had never acted before and was not a dancer, but Arnold cast her in the lead role of Mia, a fifteen-year-old troubled kid who dreams of becoming a professional hip-hop dancer as her only way out of her drab life. A loner quick to curse and fight, Mia lives with her mother, Joanne (Kierston Wareing), who loves to drink and party, and her little sister, Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths making her acting debut as well). When her mother starts dating Connor (Michael Fassbender), Mia soon turns to him for help and advice, but their relationship threatens to grow much too close and far too dangerous. Arnold shot the film in chronological order, giving each actor only parts of the script at a time, so virtually every scene of FISH TANK feels fresh and genuine, with natural, believable actions and reactions. While Wareing and Fassbender (HUNGER and 300) are excellent, the film belongs to the remarkable Jarvis, who will break your heart over and over again.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:51 am

http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/article/movie-review-fish-tank-2010

Movie Review: Fish Tank (2010)
A story of misery that offers little reason to stick with it
BY: Brad Brevet | January 15th 2010 at 4:19 AM
Katie Jarvis in Fish Tank
Photo: IFC Films

Coming to the States with plenty of Blighty cred is Fish Tank, a feature length film from the Oscar-winning short-film director Andrea Arnold. Unfortunately I can't echo the love this film has received across the pond as it is nothing more than a cliche-driven story of 15-year-old named Mia (Katie Jarvis) whose home life involves constant dismissal from her mother and an exchange of insults with her younger sister, facts that extend into her social life as she goes around hating the world. A hate that shows in damn near every scene, at least when she isn't trying to free an overly metaphorical chained-up white horse, but even then I felt her primary reason for doing it is simply piss off the owners.

Things change, slightly, when Mia takes advantage of a strange connection she has with her mother's boyfriend Connor, played by Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds, Hunger). However, just when you think/hope this film may offer something different it follows a path we have seen too many times before and not even its well-executed final moment can save it.

The fact Fish Tank is described as a "coming-of-age story" is drastically misleading as there is no coming-of-age as much as there is escape, and very little of it at that. From start to finish you never feel as if Mia learns anything from her experiences and is only going to move on in her life making someone else miserable.

The only cliche Arnold avoids, and I'm not entirely sure it was intentional, was the fact she never glamorizes Mia's love for hip-hop dancing. This is most likely due to the fact Mia isn't much of a dancer, but her dancing isn't meant to be flashy as much as it is the only escape offered her. Beyond these moments of solitude, Arnold makes sure to place Mia in the worst possible situations, surrounded by some of the worst possible people and needlessly escalates things into a hackneyed potboiler toward the end.

In terms of acting, a lot of reviews have hailed Jarvis as some sort of a stand out. She's not bad, but I can't say I saw anything here that would have me telling others they need to rush out to see her. On the other hand, Fassbender continues to impress me as I look at him and see an actor much like Christian Bale only more talented. Had Fassbender delivered one false move in this film it would have completely crumbled. He didn't.

Things aren't all misery and melancholy however, much of the photography and shots Arnold and cinematographer Robbie Ryan deliver are fantastic. They symbolically decided to go for a 4:3 aspect ratio providing a standard (claustrophobic) television look at things rather than widescreen, and it is the film's one true stand-out.

Also, Arnold does handle Mia's quieter moments with much more skill than she does the majority of her outbursts. Mia is a lit fuse waiting to go off in most every circumstance, but when offered the chance to reflect or when put in a situation even she realizes is beyond her years something is truly achieved, but that something is few and far between with Fish Tank.

GRADE: C
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Jan 16, 2010 3:14 am

http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2010/01/fish-tank.html

By Sean Gandert
Fish Tank Review

Release Date: Dec. 23
Director/Writer: Andrea Arnold
Starring: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender,
Cinematographer: Robbie Ryan
Studio/Run Time: IFC Films, 123 mins.

Cannes favorite Fish Tank drops into the world of the British lower class with an attempt at documenting the very real difficulties and strife associated with this world through its cipher Mia. Already kicked out of high school at the age of 15 and wandering friendless among the squalor of her apartment complex, Mia spends her time skipping out on social services and dreaming of a lifestyle spent dancing her way to fame. Not that there’s much chance of this, but her mother’s new boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender) seems to think so and encourages her to try recording a video for a local dance audition. The pair’s attraction is obvious, so it’s no surprise when midway through Fish Tank they have sex before he immediately abandons the family.

Fish Tank’s story is almost self-consciously bleak, but still offers glimpses of hope throughout. Connor may be seducing Mia, but at least he has a steady paycheck and seems at times to be wavering between becoming her lover or her father, and even his opportunistic praise never seems to be a complete lie. Fassbender’s mesmerizing performance keeps this ambivalence at the film’s forefront and adds complexity to a tale without any unforeseeable twists. The entire cast comes to feel like a family, and though dysfunctional, their emotions always ring true. It’s just a family put into extreme pressures by their economic reality and society’s expectations.

Director Andrea Arnold’s true talent is in these performances, though the movie is strikingly beautiful for being shot in a verite style. At times this seems to glorify their poverty, but it usually isn’t too invasive. Far more annoying, though, is the movie’s writing. Fish Tank’s style and acting suggest naturalism, another attempt at capturing this story as accurately as possible, but Arnold’s script contrasts against this with some clunky dialogue and a streak of amateurish heavy-handedness. The difference between intimate Mia-Connor scenes and Mia investigating a stupidly metaphorical chained horse couldn’t be greater, to the point that they seem like two totally different movies. In one, Arnold has true control of her material and in the other she feels the need to handhold its audience every step of the way.

Fish Tank is still a fulfilling movie; it just doesn’t redefine women’s coming-of-age films in the way it ambitiously attempts to. Arnold’s second feature augers the rise of a real talent, but moreso behind the camera than behind the keyboard. The film’s moments of clunkiness are worth overlooking given its strength when Fish Tank stops trying to deliver a message and instead listens to its characters.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Jan 16, 2010 3:21 am

http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/119054-fish-tank/

Fish Tank
Director: Andrea Arnold
Cast: Harry Treadaway, Jason Maza, Katie Jarvis, Kierston Wareing, Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Griffiths

(IFC Films, 2009) Rated: NR

US theatrical release date: 15 January 2010 (Limited release)

UK theatrical release date: 11 September 2009 (General release)
By Cynthia Fuchs

PopMatters Film and TV Editor

Why We Get High

“You dance like a black. It’s a compliment.” Connor (Michael Fassbender), watching from the kitchen door as Mia (Katie Jarvis) mimics the moves before her in an Ashanti and Ja Rule video, seems impressed. The girl is 15, sullen and skinny, but she works hard on her dancing, and to him, it shows. She’s seen a few videos, and so imagines that dancing will be her ticket out of the council flat where she lives with her miserable mother, Joanne (Kierston Wareing) and suitably confused younger sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths). Connor’s approval irks her in a kneejerk sort of way, but also confirms her guess that she has valuable skills.

That both Mia and Connor gauge this value by what they see on TV is no small irony. In Fish Tank, director Andrea Arnold’s follow-up to her mesmerizing Red Road, the primary and much-repeated point is that limited vision is costly. (Indeed, the views from windows recall Red Road‘s frequent, very similar shots.) As Mia first appears in the movie, rehearsing her dance steps alone, then looking out a window onto bleak council yard, then walks across the yard and across dilapidated streets, the camera hovers behind her. The view is close, her world is confined, and no matter how fast and furiously she walks, she has nowhere to go.

Mia’s constraints are derived from her mother’s, though neither would admit as much. An early scene intimates just how difficult their relationship has turned, as Mia looks out from her bedroom to see Joanne in the kitchen, herself dancing in her underwear, pleased after an apparently gratifying night with Connor. Mia, having revealed in a previous scene with her friends/classmates that she is a demanding judge of dancing, here apprises her mother silently, though her taut profile suggests she’s not pleased, though you can only guess whether she sees Joanne as a competitor, a good dancer or a bad one, or all of the above.

As Fish Tank goes on to show, Mia sees her options poorly. If Joanne is a careless and frankly jealous mother, rejecting both Tyler and Mia as, essentially, too much trouble, Connor seems at first a supportive adult. He appears occasionally and then increasingly, inviting the girls along on a drive to the country, tending to a small but bloody injury to Mia’s ankle, eyeing her with a mix of fatherly (or maybe brotherly) affection and a yuckier sort of lust. Joanne misses these looks, willfully or not, and tends to pose her own angular form in ways that are less seductive than aggressive. Repeatedly and recklessly modeling abjection and desire, Joanne provides Mia with multiple reasons to want out. That said, Mia is reluctant to take up the choice Joanne offers—a referral unit, for kids the state deems in need of structure. (Tyler articulates the basic trouble with this option, as “full of spastics and idiots, those places.”)

Outside the flat, Mia finds a big fat metaphor for her sense of self, a scrawny gray horse chained to a rock in a trailer park. After an unsuccessful attempt to free the animal—she slams the chain with a brick, the camera heaving up and down to follow her effort—she returns to see the horse. At first she’s assaulted by a set of thuggish brothers who claim to own the horse, then she meets a younger brother, Billy (Harry Treadaway), who protests the horse’s emaciation is “not what you think.” It’s old, he explains, and they do feed it. Mia is inclined to disbelieve, and also to seek friendship even with boys who live in trailers. But their “dates” are predictably premised on drinking and pilfering (car parts) and having sex, none of it interesting, except when she can flaunt her “bad” (expected and typical) behavior in front of Joanne and Connor.

When Connor encourages Mia to follow up on a “dream” of hers, namely, to mail out a recording of herself dancing in order to get an audition, the film looks almost to be leaning into Save the Last Dance‘s territory. Mia’s talents and his interests seem to come together when he introduces her to Bobby Womack’s cover of “California Dreaming,” which she takes to heart and uses to choreograph her audition dance. He also lends her a video camera to make the recording, leading to some striking imagery, screens that recall the windows and mirrors and doorways that confine all Mia’s views, even as she creates the image inside this frame.

In fact, Mia misreads most everything in front of her, from Ashanti to Connor (she may have her mother’s shortcomings right, or at least the movie implies as much). And so Mia is bound to be disappointed and respond to that disappointment naïvely, her rage quite frighteningly directed at a much younger girl, another rather obvious metaphor who appears in a cheap princess dress. She’s a girl Mia might have wanted to be but can’t identify with—until they are both afraid, desperately and quite brutally.

But even as the film tells a familiar story, it does so in striking, visually resonant ways. The mobile frame is always slightly off, as Mia misunderstands and as she also eludes understanding. Her surroundings are bleak, the sky gray, the sidewalks broken. That she’s unable to articulate most of what she wants, or can only phrase it in terms she’s seen elsewhere. This is the film’s most effective strategy, to indict images that inculcate desire in images that do not.

Rating:
— 15 January 2010
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Jan 16, 2010 3:51 am

http://www.thonline.com/article.cfm?id=269908

"Fish Tank"

Unrated, but contains scenes of sexuality, sex involving a minor and teen drinking and smoking. 122 minutes. HHH.

Writer-director Andrea Arnold has created something so real and raw with this British teen drama, you might come away with a twinge of guilty voyeurism, a sense of peering too closely and impolitely into other people's lives.

Arnold made a remarkable find with her teen lead, Katie Jarvis, who had not acted before but proves a natural, at least for the sort of honest intensity needed to anchor the story.

Jarvis plays Mia, a 15-year-old alienated from friends, her mom (Kierston Wareing) and everything else around her bleak home in a crumbling industrial town east of London.

Her mother's new boyfriend (Michael Fassbender) becomes both someone new to confront and an intriguing mix of father figure and dream suitor to Mia.

Extreme things happen, yet it all feels genuine, even inevitable, thanks to the devoted, fearless cast and Arnold's attention to detail, which helps the film unfold like actual lives playing out on screen.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sun Jan 17, 2010 1:31 am

http://www.movies-on-demand.tv/reviews/fish-tank-movie-review/

Fish Tank Movie Review

Posted on: January 16, 2010

Fish Tank Movie Review

Three years ago, newcomer director Andrea Arnolds sent shockwaves worldwide when her debut film, “Red Road” became the winner of the prix du jury at the Cannes Film Festival. Now she returns to the big screen once more with another Cannes Jury prize winner, “Fish Tank”. Her new feature is a working-class drama focusing touching down on the same themes she used on her previous film. Apparently, “Fish Tank” seems to be the feminine side of British filmmaker Ken Loach’s movies of social realism.

The film takes us into the life of 15-year old, Essex estate resident, Mia. The young teenage girl lives a twisted life consisting of school alienation and exclusion, lack of friends, engaging in bouts of fights, and a strong inclination and dependency on booze. Amidst these complications, Mia discovers happiness from dancing hip-hop alone in an empty flat on the estate. Things begin to change in her life as she is introduced to her young mother’s (Kierston Wareing) new man, the charismatic, mysterious, and charming Connor (Michael Fassbender). Connor manages to invade her family’s life, particularly in a positive way for Mia as she finds the attention and care she had long been seeking. The relationship between Connor and Mia grows more intense everyday to the point it becomes queasily sexual for the young, immature girl. Mia finds herself in an unusual situation as both a victim and a perpetrator at the same time.

Arnold’s creation of her second feature, “Fish Tank” proved to the world that her previous win with “Red Road” was no mistake. In reality she was capable of creating touching and inspirational films from simple everyday stories that were being ignored in the real life. Arnolds also managed to send in highly meaningful messages of the happenings in today’s world regarding the huge influence pop culture and media plays on people’s lives. Her precise representation of the life of the British working class lines her up alongside great directors Shane Meadows and Ken Loach.

The devotion to gritty realism allows the stars of the film to deliver performances so believable, raw, and open hardly distinguishable as acting. It feels like watching the scene unfold on common streets and neighborhoods every day. Before this film, Jarvis had no acting experience whatsoever. She was simply discovered on a train station one day then tasked to star as lead in a huge film the next. Arnolds’ terrific connection with the stars in her film creates an environment for them to release the best of their innate abilities. This is especially true for the inexperience Jarvis who delivers a flawless performance that elevates “Fish Tank” to a whole new level.

Jarvis’ lack of formal training had worked well for the film. Mia was delivered in a natural and convincing manner as a young girl should be despite the heavy eyeliner and grey sweat suit. Most of the film’s scenes focus on Mia’s personal reactions to the changes in her life. Jarvis offers a wide emotional range from sadness to anger mixed with hope, a feat not many teenage actors nowadays are capable of. Clearly we can see how Jarvis took the character to heart as she takes us deep into Mia’s problematic and challenging train of thought. Though only 17 at that time, she had managed to create authentic moments thanks to the similarity of Mia to her own personal life.

Aside from Jarvis, Fassbender also delivers a splendid performance by combining the unusual mix of sexuality and parental concern his character is exuding. The calm, cool, and reserved acting he displayed perfectly complements Jarvis’ wildly intense acting to create the film’s much needed balance.

“Fish Tank” pushes the boundaries of film viewing by taking viewers even closer to experience every scene like they were actually there. To create this intense feeling, Arnolds teams up with talented cinematographer Robbie Ryan to shoot the whole film as tight as possible through the Academy ratio of 1:33. The closeness of the shots takes viewers deep down into the character’s most intimate moments. Some may find the experience exciting while the highly square image may leave others feeling claustrophobic, trapped, or enclosed.

Despite her obvious talent visually, Arnolds fails on plot development and narration. Though striking, the storyline feels all too familiar from the expected characters to the supporting scenes and surroundings. It’s something that’s been used and seen before by renowned directors. One great miss for the film is the poorly defined connection between Mia and her mother.

Another mishap exists in the last ten-minute sequence where all secrets are exposed and the film takes off a little too far than what’s tolerable and acceptable. However by this time, “Fish Tank” has clearly proven it’s a standout both in authenticity and performance that such mishaps become easily forgivable.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sun Jan 17, 2010 2:00 am

http://www.theauteurs.com/notebook/posts/1399
15Jan10

"House," "Fish Tank," "The Book of Eli"

by David Hudson

The Auteurs Daily

Fish Tank

"Even after the advent of psychology, feminism, and the sexual revolution, female desire remains culturally discomfiting, a topic to be avoided or willfully mystified," writes Eric Hynes for indieWIRE. "Outside of hyper-hormonal slapstick, adolescent desire is just as taboo. Furthermore, female adolescent desire is so socially unsavory that even the dubiously chaste Twilight counts as a welcome corrective. Enter Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank, a film so fearless, honest, and wise about emergent female sexuality that no grading curve is necessary. She approaches sex not as an aspect of politics but of experience, continuous with life's other impulses, bafflements, dangers, and joys."

"We find ourselves, in Fish Tank, in a world made familiar by the films of Ken Loach, Mike Leigh and other socially conscious anatomists of British misery," writes AO Scott in the NYT. "It's a place I'm usually (perhaps perversely) happy to visit, and to locate Ms Arnold's work in a recognizable tradition is not to slight her particular and considerable strengths as a filmmaker. Her first feature, Red Road, was a tour de force of psychological insight slightly undermined by a script that relied a bit too much on late reversals and surprises.... [Michael] Fassbender, who was the Irish militant Bobby Sands in Steve McQueen's Hunger and the suave British film critic in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, is quickly establishing himself as an actor of impressive range and skill."

More from Mark Asch (L), Richard Brody (New Yorker), Libby Edelson (Artforum), David Edelstein (New York), Bryant Frazer, Craig Kennedy, Noel Murray (AV Club), Andrew O'Hehir (Salon), Dana Stevens (Slate), Ella Taylor (Voice), Keith Uhlich (TONY), James van Maanen, Armond White (New York Press) and Lauren Wissot (Slant). Earlier: Reviews from Cannes.

For Filmmaker, Damon Smith talks with Arnold "about her faith in cinema, the simple act of observing everyday life, and why her New Year's resolution is to dance every day." More from Graham Fuller in the NYT and Peter Knegt in indieWIRE. Profiles of newcomer Katie Jarvis: Charlotte Cripps (Independent) and Mark Olsen (Los Angeles Times). Interviews with Michael Fassbender: Kyle Buchanan (Movieline), David Fear (TONY), Aaron Hillis (IFC), Terry Keefe (The Hollywood Interview) and Lauren Wissot (Slant). Listening. Arnold and Fassbender are guests on the Leonard Lopate Show.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sun Jan 17, 2010 2:04 am

http://www.deep-focus.com/dfweblog/2010/01/fish_tank.html

Fish Tank
Grade: B+ | By Bryant Frazer on January 14, 2010 9:36 PM

Fish Tank walks well-trod ground, but it's still riveting from start to finish. Director Andrea Arnold proves that her debut feature, Red Road, was no fluke -- she has a great eye for urban landscapes and a real way with actors. Set in Essex County, England, Fish Tank is all about Mia, an obstreperous 15-year-old with a stack of chips on her shoulder and a way with hip-hop dance moves. The central performance by Katie Jarvis is the bright ball of energy around which the whole film revolves, and she's pretty terrific -- she gives an easy, naturalistic performance that's pure teenage girl, whether she's bloodying the collective nose of her peer group or (symbol alert) pounding the hell out of a padlock that keeps a friendly gray horse chained up on one of the neighborhood's desolate, nearly empty lots that smells of young men and menace.

Mia lives in a dingy council estate with her mother, Joanne (an awesomely carnal Kierston Wareing), her little sister, Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths), and liters upon liters of alcohol. Newly arrived in their lives is handsome Connor (Michael Fassbender), taking on the appearance of a sexy, slender guardian angel in low-slung blue jeans — and don't think young Mia doesn't notice how well he's built. The gentle, good-humored Connor crystallizes something of a power struggle between Joanne, who shags the bloke in her room upstairs, and Mia, who sees him as mentor, father figure, and lust object in some undetermined order.

Anyone whose cable package includes IFC and Sundance won't be much surprised by anything that happens, storywise, in a script that sometimes plays like it was written in an indie-films Mad Libs exercise. Mia's infatuation with the dashing Connor comes to a head; her mother threatens to send Mia away to a boarding school; Mia plans to audition for a dance troupe; Connor turns out to be not quite heavensent. "What's wrong with you?" Mia's mom yells. "You're what's wrong with me!" Mia shouts back. It's like one of those songs you feel you can hum along to the first time you hear it on the radio.

But what matters is the way Arnold gets it all on film. She hit paydirt with the casting of Jarvis, who turns out to be compulsively watchable and hits a real sweet spot, playing Mia as pretty and brutish, sweet and thick, terribly sympathetic and inexcusably crass. There's a great scene late in the film that culminates in a confrontation where a furious Connor, who has no other real recourse, simply smacks the girl upside the head, and it works because sometimes that's what I, the viewer, wanted to do to her. It's a terrific performance because the character it creates feels so real: beautiful and fragile, clumsy and imperfect. Worth caring about, but so damned infuriating.

Arnold is also a wonderful photographer, especially of women's faces in moving portraiture, and also of cityscapes. I was struck, for instance, by a terrific shot of Jarvis framed against a backdrop of cherry-pickers rising vertically toward the sky like a tiny industrial orchard, and if Arnold's unconventional 1.33:1 aspect ratio allows her to explore that vertical motif in a few other shots, it also plays against the widescreen frame's tendency to romanticize or even mythologize a film's setting. As imaginative as her framing is, Arnold depicts nothing much more than the unrelenting plain clutter of Mia's surroundings -- which perhaps puts her impulsive and occasionally desperate behavior in context.

The film's final act is in every regard its most conventional, bringing Mia to suburbia and dramatizing class resentment in low, blunt terms. To Arnold's credit, it still feels a bit dangerous, as though Mia is really at risk of going off the rails. Though she acts in a colossally stupid, self-absorbed fashion, she's a lost soul whose salvation still feels worth rooting for. Arnold doesn't go for closure, or a happy ending, but there is a moment of grim joy in the film's final minutes, as the three women — Mia, her sister, Tyler, and her mum, Joanne — say their wordless piece by dancing together to "Life's a Bitch" by Nas. It's a terrific moment to cap an impressive film. No rank sentiment or self-pity here. Just one tough broad and two more tough broads-in-training saying their honest goodbyes.
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