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Reviews and SPOILERS

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by MissL on Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:52 pm

he look so good we he says “You need sorting out, you do

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Wed Dec 09, 2009 4:21 pm

lol

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 12, 2009 6:13 pm

http://thescorecardreview.com/review/film-reviews/2009/10/30/fish-tank-ciff-quickcard-review/6209

Fish Tank – CIFF Quickcard Review

Quickcard Review – Chicago International Film Festival Review

Fish Tank

Directed by: Andrea Arnold
Cast: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender
Running Time: 2 hrs, 3 mins
Rating: R

PLOT: A 15-year-old girl (Jarvis) who lives with her mother and sister in public housing has dreams of becoming a hip-hop dancer.

WHO’S IT FOR? Tired of movies that portray “the streets” with too much sparkle? Want a bit more reality in your coming of age stories? Here’s Fish Tank.

OVERALL

With long takes and no musical score, Fish Tank is one of those films that is subtle in presentation – but is as large as life when considering its story. It’s the tale of growing up and getting out like we’ve seen before, but this time without the soft edges. Some more than obvious imagery at the end of the film provides us with closure, but not before irrevocable mistakes are made first.

Newcomer Katie Jarvis does a wonderful job in carrying the film – she’s as fluid as an actor as she is a dancer. In a way, her character’s construction are similar to that of Hollywood dance movies, particularly the two Step Up series, but both Jarvis and the film’s grimy aesthetics prevent from any hint of Fish Tank becoming fantastical. Instead, Jarvis is a rather convincing chip off the public housing block, and only has one moment of exaggerated actions in the entire film (in the third act, it involves kidnapping – see for yourself).

Fassbender earned a Gold Plaque for Best Supporting Actor for his role, something that I don’t entirely agree with. His character, Connor, the boyfriend to the girl’s mother, does carry his mysterious motivations, but he is able to do so while keeping a normal façade. Connor does lose his own innocence subtly throughout the film, but much of his effect as a character is due to the opposing actions by Mia. The scenes that must’ve brought him the most attention probably also involved the Mia, as they were focuses on the pair’s unusual chemistry.

The observational Fish Tank was the recipient of the Silver Hugo for Special Jury Award, which is a fair placement. It’s overall experience may not have been the absolute best from this year’s festival, but the film is still something that can be appreciated once it makes some sort of stateside release.

FINAL SCORE: 8/10

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 12, 2009 6:21 pm

I found that article a bit off.

First the author mentioned that Michael didn't deserve the award.

It's been a big hoopla trying to figure out if Michael is a supporting actor or not in the film. On IMDB, the pet dog is listed before Michael is. Almost all the other characters, outside the three females, the other characters that we really don't care about, are all listed above Michael..

yet...

Michael is listed in the movie as the first male actor. He's not the first on screen, but seriously, who do you remember on the screen during the whole movie?

Katie
Kirsten
the little girl
Michael
and maybe the boyfriend.

And another comment that got my knickers in a twist was Katie's dancing. As someone who has danced all her life, I do have to say, Katie had rhythm. BUT, she wasn't fluid in her dance. She can dance, but wasn't really good, and she admits it. I did expect someone to play Mia who could dance, especially since this movie revolves around her desire to dance. Although I don't judge how people dance outside the US against US dancers, there was a lot to be desired.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 12, 2009 6:59 pm

It's always interesting to get a religious point of view

http://www.thinkingfaith.org/articles/FILM_20091009_2.htm

Fish Tank

Director: Andrea Arnold
Starring: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Griffiths, Kierston Wareing
UK Release date: 11 September 2009
Certificate: 15 (123 mins)

‘Visualising the realism of life and actuality
F**k, who’s the baddest? A person’s status depends on salary’

These are the opening lines to the Nas song, Life’s a Bitch that provides the soundtrack to the understated climax of Andrea Arnold’s severe yet true to life Fish Tank. They say more about the film’s intentions and concerns than anything else I can think of to say.

Fish Tank explores the social ‘underclass’ that has, in recent times, become both Britain’s scapegoat and its most easily forgotten embarrassment. We are, of course, talking about what only someone with a politician’s lack of sensitivity and social awareness would refer to as ‘Broken Britain’ (nothing like some alliteration to salvage a sound bite out of the tragedy of society’s disastrous failure to provide for its people). Arnold approaches this difficult task with sensitivity, whilst never becoming overly sentimental or patronising. The portrayal of the crushing, relentless sadness of Mia’s (Katie Jarvis) world flickers between the overwhelmingly tragic and the monotonous in a way that evokes both empathy and depression in the audience in equal measure.

Mia is a 15-year old firstborn child to a mother who shows her no love. She, in turn, has none to show her younger sister (Rebecca Griffiths), who is rapidly erecting the same emotional walls and barriers that Mia has firmly in place. Mia has been kicked out of school, and finds nothing but antagonism in herself and all others in her life. That is until she meets Connor (Michael Fassbender), her mother’s charming and eloquent new boyfriend: his way with words, his warm Irish lilt and, notably, his payslip set him apart from all else in Mia’s world such that she is immediately wary, aggressive and desperate for his affection. With father absent and mother distant, Mia is disarmed easily by Connor’s attention and compliments. This angers her: she is betrayed by her emotional weakness, and lashes out sporadically as her defences are dissolved. Connor sneaks in through the gap in her confusion between fatherly affection and male attention, and again she is burned.

The biggest things in Mia’s life are cheap lager and dance, and she sees a way out for herself when she sees an advert looking for ‘Female dancers’. With surprising naivety, Mia choreographs and rehearses a creative but somewhat clumsy retro break dance routine to Bobby Womack’s California Dreamin’. As her audition draws nearer, the viewer’s dread for Mia increases, and when she walks into the dimly lit, tinsel-laden bar and sits, in her tracksuit, alongside girls wearing more jewellery than fabric, the audience can barely watch. I don’t want to give away what happens after Mia takes to the podium and California Dreamin’ starts to play, but it determines a path for Mia, and endows her with a power and confidence that she was short of before.

Mia’s benevolence, is clear from the start. Her continued attempts to free a horse chained up by gypsy brothers, at the risk of her own safety, epitomises this. Maybe she sees something of herself in this animal: trapped in a situation beyond its control, nearly but not quite resigned to its own helplessness, its existence echoes hers. This is alluded to beautifully towards the end of the film, after Mia finds out that it had to be put down. ‘It’s not what you think’, the owner says, ‘She was old’. On hearing this, Mia sinks to her knees. ‘She was sixteen’, continues the boy, ‘It was her time’. This sentence rings ominously in the audience’s ears, as thoughts instantly return to Mia, nearly 16: not old, but not as young as she should be.

Arnold does, however, leave us with a sense of hope, as Mia and her mother connect wordlessly in an impromptu dance to Nas’ Life’s a Bitch. The strange ambivalence of this touching reconciliation is cleverly intimated in the refrain – ‘Life’s a bitch, and then you die’ – to what is, in spite of this lyric, a song of hope and of escape.

Katie Jarvis’ performance is particularly brilliant. Convincing in every aspect, passionate in both her anger and sadness, the audience cannot help but identify with her in all that she experiences. There are great supporting performances from Michael Fassbender and Rebecca Griffiths, as well as a good performance from Kierston Wareing as Mia’s mother.

Fish Tank is a very sad film. It is a portrait of life for many thousands of people in this country, people who have been forgotten by society; or not forgotten, in fact, but something much worse maybe: sacrificed. We all know, as do the people that run this country, of the hopeless situations people can find themselves in, and of the ladders that don’t reach down far enough, and yet society as a whole does not do enough to help. Instead, as a group, we mock and patronise, we make and use deriding labels (‘chav’, for example, rumoured to stand for ‘council housed and violent’). British films dealing with issues of class often look to the past and romanticise working class movements and disillusionment; it is rare for a film to look honestly at class issues so current. Fish Tank does so unapologetically. It is a reminder to us that we are lucky, and that we are selfish, and that we don’t do enough.

Aaron Kilkenny-Fletcher

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 12, 2009 7:10 pm

http://noesland.blogspot.com/2009/10/fish-tank-mistral-of-fresh-air.html

Oct 4, 2009
Fish Tank : a mistral of fresh air

Mia has an enormous, poignant capacity for love, but she has never received any. With zero experience, Katie Jarvis has given a wonderfully honest and open performance to be compared with Emilie Dequenne in the Dardenne brothers' Rosetta.
Her relationship with Michael Fassbender is what gives the film its beating heart !
Love, passion, pain, all feelings are treated with realism and poesy. Andrea Arnold signs a master piece with all her feminine sensitivity. Fish Tank will you out of your seat !
It's been a long tim I haven't felt like this and actually, I'm still in the movie !

Fish Tank by Andrea Arnold, 2009 (UK) with Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing, Jason Maza, Rebecca Griffiths, French distribution : MK2

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 12, 2009 7:35 pm

Another loosely translated article. I liked what they said about Michael and his character:

http://www.bodhitv.nl/articles/show-news/2009-11-16/nieuwe-rubriek-vivi-kijkt-fish-tank/

Vivi looks: Fish Tank

Vivi Nguyen

Signed on: 16/11/2009

Rating: 3 Stars
The fifteen year-old Mia (Katie Jarvis) has unleashed a teenager in trouble often. When her mother (Kier Ston Wareing) her new boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender) are getting, is there room for change.

The charming Connor take care as a concerned father and her younger sister Mia Tyler. In the beginning Mia know nothing of him, but Connor still gradually close them in her heart and the two increasingly closer. It is difficult to estimate Connors intentions. one hand he is the only one who shows interest in Mia's hiphop dance. On the other hand, Connor's family overtures rather suspicious for someone who until recently was a complete stranger. Are the kietelpartijen and get spanking nou harmless or even alarming? The camera captures this ambiguity in any case very subtle.

Not good or bad

The relationships between the characters are complex, as the situations they find themselves. Mia's young mother in particular seems to have committed himself. But it is too easy to blame the single mother on the effort. Because what was her life like? The director Andrea Arnold has deliberately 'good' or 'bad' not on film so the viewer less a moral position. A 'guilty' that cock you do not feel a two from three. Best or Buddhist, not always black and white thinking and guilt, sin, or penance as an indisputable starting point.

Raw and touch

The chemistry between Michael Fassbender and Katie Jarvis is a pleasure to watch. Michael Fassbender is (especially natural for the female audience) an apple to the eye, his sex appeal oozes from the screen, but who really catches the eye is Katie Jarvis. They acting so incredibly well for a debutante already arguing with her boyfriend were plucked from the street. She knows both the hard and aggressive as part of vulnerable Mia spelem very strongly.

The suffocating atmosphere in which the characters find themselves are a little lighter by the humor in the dialogues and one-liners. One of the best one-liners that are thrown down, and the little bit of love in the raw climate shows, when Mia Tyler's little sister let it appear that Connor likes the words: "I like you. I'll kill you last.” "Furthermore, it is especially poignant that little Tyler finds it difficult to" I love you 'to say' I hate you ', so they always have the final say. But as viewers know you better at a given moment.

Slow-mo zen

The slow-motion images in the film can be interpreted as an ingredient of mindfulness. This is your beautiful scenes as it were sucked into playing time, now. Very relaxed we sway to the rhythm of breathing when she's Mia Connor in his arms is carried away. In another scene attempting Mia and an unkempt-looking old horse to calm, by physical contact. The close-up and inertia of the images succeed to the full attention to the horse gives Mia, display. That attention has focused almost meditative effect.

Fish Tank gives you a special movie experience without (re) consider whether you a message on the heart.

Fish Tank
Director: Andrea Arnold
2009 Release: October 22, 2009
Trailer: youtube.com

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 12, 2009 8:23 pm

Dutch Translated, but one of the most honest reviews I've read.

http://ansiel.cinebelblogs.be/archive/2009/12/08/britse-sociale-film.html

09-12-09
British social film

Actually this is a film that also had Ken Loach or Mike Leigh could be made. Ken Loach there was indeed very close to his Sweet Sixteen.

Director Andrea Arnold late in Fish Tank see how a neglected adolescent girl, thwarted by her own destructive behavior and its depressing surroundings, looking for a way out.

The fifteen year old Mia lives in school and the sad Essex, where everything is miserable. Mia wanders the streets, everyone swears the skin and gives a full head butt to a companion. She lives with her young nymphomaniac mother, who barely to her and her younger sister looking back. Mia is already a strong drinker, have unsafe sex and her younger sister smokes like a Turk is not a father. Unfortunately, the nature of things on his British and the female ..

However, Mia desires and dreams. They melt at the stroke of a horse - she tries to steal - and each day they exercise dance moves in an abandoned apartment, hoping to be dancer ever. She swings her little sister many insults to the head, but ultimately it appears to give her Mia.

Like any teenager Mia is an adult child to think, but they may in contrast to other teenagers not afford to show her soft side. During her quest for a chance to escape fighting them both to herself and her surroundings.

On one days her mother comes home with a new friend, Connor. Ingeniously ambiguous played by Michael Fassbender, known from Inglourious Basterds and Hunger. Mia's eyes can not deter him and his shapely ass. The hormones shooting through her body and her stomach butterflies. He shows not only attractive, but nice. In a fatherly way supports Mia in her dream to be a dancer. Is there still someone in the Essex depressing that Mia can trust, a light in the darkness? Arnold sketch of Connor, and his improper advances to Mia, is very subtle. It is very difficult to determine whether its friendliness and charm sincere, or is part of a sexual conquest plan. He knows what he is doing, or he lets himself be carried away by feelings that he is not in the hand? Something similar applies to Mia, a character that is very precise hit on the difficult transition between child and adult age. She sees the selfishness and hypocrisy of the adult world sharply, which does not affect them are also deeply shocked and drawn.

The role of Mia was director Andrea Arnold actress Katie Jarvis, quoted by the Guardian,. State or rather was not far from the character she interprets, Kier Ston Wareing previously starred in the title role of It's a Free World, but has a somewhat thankless role as the mother.

From an impressive beauty, with the necessary erotic symbolism, is a scene where Connor and Mia in the standing water of a river, and he teaches her how her bare hands to catch a fish.

Refined Arnold used to detail the various aspects of her main character to express. So Mia has her hair usually in a tight tail, including pins to rein in picking. Her look is hard and indifferent. But in rare moments is the loose and they bear no make-up. Then her vulnerability visible. In this sublime interplay Michael Fassbender and Katie Jarvis this vulnerability and sexual tension that follows, bringing to the fore.

This film won the Jury Prize in Cannes rightly.

André Oyen

Fish Tank United Kingdom
Drama 124 minutes

directed by Andrea Arnold
Katie Jarvis, Kier Ston Wareing and Michael Fassbender

http://www.cinebel.be/nl/film/media/1004988-Fish-Tank/tra

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 12, 2009 8:41 pm

Ahhh...greek translation

http://aueb-film-club.blogspot.com/2009/11/fish-tank.html

Sunday, November 29, 2009
Fish Tank Director: Andrea Arnold
Production: England / 2009
Duration: 123 '

Two years ago will remember a remarkable film, rare realism that he heard the name Red Road. Organization of the original film left many promises identity to Protaras then Andrea Arnold. In the same context will follow and this year's Fish Tank, only now director Englishwoman called outset to confirm the increased expectations.

The Mia (Katie Jarvis) is a fifteen-year girl. The stage of puberty. Not age, but ideologically. Not school and family education. Institutions mutilated. The inherent curiosity of the stage of adolescence is motivated discovery and search of a meaning. The Mia is an angry wild beast. Rage for volemenes lives of classmates. For the girl, of media koinonimenes, nonsense. Hate the apathetic indifference of family life. The hip hop culture aspasmeni registered trademark of the reactionary nature. The search of the data center, to confront the biological instincts. And so with a love call unprecedented. In this context, the independence is captured by the (illegal) sexual desire for the "illegal" friend (Michael Fassbender) of "pop" her mother. Love as an extreme emotional Cyclothymia. And a recognition, like the rejection of this means the sharp wounding the sensitivity of "I".

Andrea Arnold directs with impressive realism. The framing, the camera in hand and make a montage of filming for example. With very Excellent and sensory nerve, which is enhanced by the hard gray photo. Lives gray, clouds deadlocks. An aquarium with no escape. But beyond those flattering blame, the director is lucky to be in the hands of an apocalyptic Katie Jarvis in the lead. Pure pleasure in the chick debut! Passing a fierce internal interpretation. Course and Michael Fassbender is an excellent partner. And between them formed an indescribable chemistry. Ground and passing with ease ligotika an erotic atmosphere.

The form is subordinate to realism. But the script makes a pure fictional drama, without any social background. The drama focuses on operatic characters. But the drama, the catalyst for the drama genre of melodrama, fails to launch the film. This is because leaves "knots" during suturing. Betraying an easy profaneia binding to a causal relationship that drives the dramatic thread. Unable to render invisible the manufacturing process senariosyngrafis. And thus depriving from the film's natural features.

To close the Fish Tank is a model of directing and acting guidance. The stunning interpretation of the rookie Katie Jarvis rightly be discussed, highlighting once again the cinema as a means of naturalistic acting casual. The story remains unfinished, however, without reaching the height of. So by the end of the Fish Tank episfragisthei have the remarkable directorial skills of Andrea Arnold, while designated the need for more thorough management and writing of history.

Rating: 6.5 / 10

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 12, 2009 8:48 pm

French

http://thegreatmoviepictureshow.over-blog.com/article-fish-tank-40510783.html

Released on 25/11/2009

Drame/GB/2009/2h02
Directed & Screenplay: Andrea Arnold. Producer: Kees Kasander. Cast: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing, Harry Treadaway, ...

Fish tank, which received the Jury Prize at Cannes this is the serious and realistic portrait of a teenage rebel devoting a passion for hip hop. Among the arguments with her mother, gravelly exchanged words with her little sister and crises raging, life is far from rosy. But sometimes the manure grows a flower ...

At 15, Mia is a teenage rebel with a single passion: dance hip hop. One summer day, his mother comes home with a new lover, Connor, who moved home. Is this finally a promise of happiness or a decoy?

In a similar vein social film by Ken Loach, Andrea Arnold gives us a realistic drama that uses shocking but a more cold and distant than the director of Sweet Sixteen. If we may well regret a certain lack of emotion and the presence of a few laps in the first part of the film, it is clear that the portrait gives us the director is remarkable. Besides the quality of the staging and photography, the main asset of the film takes the side of his leading actress, Katie Jarvis, who is a revelation. Genuine, the young actress has all the power and fragility required the role of Mia. At the side, there are neither more nor less than the excellent Michael Fassbender (Hunger, Inglourious Basterds), each scene with the actress is immersed in unhealthy ambiguity . So many qualities and talents that you will not soon forget the antics of this teenager badly in her skin.

Buoyed by the tremendous performance by young Katie Jarvis, Fish Tank is one of his films, if not we take you instantly into a whirlwind of emotions, but you mark his mark for a long time. A truly disturbing film, then.

Rating: 4 / 6

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 12, 2009 9:02 pm

http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/michael_collins/fish_tank_review

Film review: Fish Tank

Michael Collins, 13 October 2009

A review of Fish Tank, directed by Andrea Arnold (2009)

One of the reassuring constants of contemporary culture is the enduring fondness of filmmakers in the UK for the realism and moral seriousness of the British New Wave. Perhaps what makes Andrea Arnold's work so arresting is not simply that it represents excellence in this field, but that the ‘angry young men' of the 1950s and 1960s are here replaced by an angry woman.

Fish Tank has many affinities with Arnold's 2006 Red Road, not least her choice of the rundown social housing estate as the lab bench upon which she dissects the putrid entrails of our post-Thatcherite society. By way of corrective treatment for their pathologies, the entire political class should be strapped down in cinema seats - A Clockwork Orange style - and forced to watch this film again and again until they admit that neither Labour nor Conservative parties have been able to address the squalid human existence that the film depicts. Fish Tank suggests that the ‘broken Britain' debate framed as Labour v. Conservative is too simplistic.

The film opens with Mia, Fish Tank's 15-year-old protagonist (played by Katie Jarvis, famously talent-spotted whilst arguing with her boyfriend at Tilbury railway station) aimlessly wandering around her estate, until she comes across a group of young girls performing a dance routine. We soon learn that Mia herself has aspirations to become a dancer, which helps us make some sense of why Mia feels compelled to make derogatory remarks about the girls and their dance moves. When one of the girls challenges her over this, Mia head-butts her, breaking her nose. Mia arrives back in her flat to find that her mother - who from her age and style of dress one immediately assumes is her elder sister - has caught wind of this development. The violent and expletive-laden interaction between the two sets the tone for their relationship.

Mia's mum Joanne (Kierston Wareing) tells Mia that she wanted to have her aborted, but "couldn't get an appointment". Joanne is looking forward to Mia's imminent departure from the house to a ‘special school' for troubled kids. And when Joanne organises a party at the flat for her friends - essentially a booze-fuelled orgy - Mia is told in no uncertain terms to keep out the way. But Mia has other ideas. Taking advantage of a woman who has lost her grip on her bottle of vodka on account of being sexually stimulated over the kitchen worktop, Mia heads back upstairs - bottle in hand - and drinks herself unconscious. It's clear that Joanne considers Mia an obstacle in every way. She is also - given that Joanne must have been 14 or 15 when she gave birth to Mia - a constant reminder of her own stolen youth.

The resentment and rivalry between Mia and her mother is heightened by the presence of Connor (Michael Fassbender) with whom Joanne is having an affair. Connor is charming, physically attractive - something of a rough diamond - and is seemingly kind and paternalistic towards Mia and her equally troubled younger sister. When he takes Joanne and the girls out for a day trip into the Essex countryside and they find momentary release in the light and air and the simplicity of catching a fish, one is tempted to concoct a narrative that sees Connor as a redeemer, capable of providing the stability and affection that the two girls so obviously crave. And yet if the imagery of the fish gasping for air on the riverbank, then impaled by Connor on a stick ("it's kinder that way") is a little forced, the way in which Arnold deals with the development of the relationship between Mia and Connor is extremely deft. At once attracted and repulsed by Connor, Arnold captures perfectly the feelings of desire and distrust that children of single mothers often feel towards the men that pass through their lives, and the dereliction of moral responsibility that so often accompanies sexual predation in these contexts. It's here that one is tempted to wonder whether or not a male director could have produced the same effect.

Mia is more than old enough to feel sexually attracted to Connor, and the extent to which she has already been exposed to sexuality - for example watching through the door as Connor has energetic intercourse with her mother, repeatedly banging her own bedroom door in anger, and to try to drown out the noise - reminds us just how fully Mia has been exposed to the world of the adult. But through Mia's dancing we also come to see her more childlike side. Practising the same routines over and over, Mia dreams of getting an audition to become a dancer; any kind of dancer, one assumes, so long as it offered her a path away from her present life and from the school to which she is supposed to be sent. The problem is that Mia isn't really very good at dancing.

In a remarkably obtuse review in the Daily Mail (‘More British miserabilism which no sane viewer would pay to watch') Chistopher Tookey thinks that Mia's rather average dancing is a fault of the director: Katie Jarvis hasn't been properly choreographed, which makes her "look foolish and delusional, like one of those really sad people at The X Factor auditions". The whole point, it seems to me, is that Mia's dancing is supposed to be plain and average. She is just doing what children do, putting on little shows, dancing and singing in the mirror. Children play act, they imitate and reinvent things they see around them, in this case the omnipresent gold chains, hot pants and gyrating buttocks emanating from the R&B station on TV. And yet Mia reinterprets these moves in a clunky, slightly innocent and noticeably desexualised way, almost as if she were just passing time in the playground. This is just one of the many subtle ways in which Arnold deals with the suspension of young people like Mia between childhood and adulthood.

Whilst Arnold's social realism leads to comparisons with Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, the more interesting development in Fish Tank is her treatment of the psychological effects of lost childhoods. In Mia, Arnold has created a character through whom she can extend her social critique into the domestic sphere and specifically the relations between mother and child (the father is inevitably absent, unnamed, unmentioned). Through the character of Joanne, Arnold has pinpointed something which is far more difficult for politicians to address, or even conceptualise: the terrible consequences of stolen childhoods for kids exposed to alcohol abuse, drugs, sex and violence by parents who themselves grew up too quickly, and who often cannot help but reproduce the same psychological effects in their own children.

This is a brilliant (though not flawless) film. There isn't much of a plot, and yet Arnold's eye for detail, her apparent intimacy with suffering coupled with a rare talent for conveying the poetics of the everyday (the penultimate scene in which Mia, her mother and her younger sister dance in unison to Nas's ‘Life's a bitch and then you die' is especially moving) makes Fish Tank unwaveringly engaging. Don't go and see it if you fancy a cheerful night out. But if you enjoy that peculiar fulfilment that comes from the disturbing recognition of certain truths about the human condition, and you appreciate fine cinema in whatever guise it comes, this is a film for you.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 12, 2009 9:46 pm

http://andrewdignan.blogspot.com/2009/11/afi-2009-coverage-bad-lieutenant.html

A far less histrionic but much better film about a teenage girl in crisis is Fish Tank from Scottish filmmaker Andrea Arnold. Arnold isn't quite a household name in the world of art cinema despite racking up an Academy Award and two jury prizes from Cannes in the past six years, but she's already building an impressive reputation and comparisons to the likes of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach for her films about working class modern day Britain, albeit from a specifically female point of view.

Fish Tank follows in the footsteps of 2006's Red Road and it serves as an amplification of that film's strengths as well as weaknesses. Like Precious, Fish Tank centers around a poor 15-year-old girl, Mia (first-timer Katie Jarvis), living with a self-involved single mother (Kierston Wareing, tellingly only 12 years older than Jarvis in real life) as well as a disarmingly foul-mouthed younger sister (Rebecca Griffiths) in a cramped apartment. Mia's an angry young woman who fights with her mom and sister constantly. She seems to have isolated herself from all of her friends and has flunked out of school; her only release is to practice hip hop dancing by herself in an abandoned apartment in her complex.

But into all this unchecked estrogen enters mom's new boyfriend, Colin (Michael Fassbender, last seen too briefly in Inglorious Basterds). Colin represents something of an enigma, to both Mia and the audience: free-swinging and juvenile enough to be mom's new boy toy but also sensitive and considerate, encouraging Mia when no one else seems willing. Mia, likewise feels conflicted by the presence of the new man in the house, lashing out at him in one instant, then sweetly asking him for money or help as it becomes apparent he's one of the few people who seems to care. Yet the longer he remains in the house the more the barriers of their relationship are tested, placing the two of them onto a messy collision course that arrives in a predictable place but not in the way we expect.

Much of Fish Tank's strength is derived from the ever shifting interplay between Jarvis and Fassbender, feeding off of the queasy sensuality Arnold cultivates throughout the film. Thematically similar to but far less chaste than An Education, Fish Tank simmers with tension as the anxiety of impropriety looms over nearly every scene. Even the most tender of moments (Colin carries a pretending to be asleep to Mia to her bed, slowly removing her shoes and sweat pants before tucking her under a blanket) pulses with unease as two people, one who clearly should know better, seem destined towards transgression.

In fact Arnold does such an exemplary job of building and maintaining this tension (which technically is "sexual tension" but I feel dirty even referring to it as such) that by the time she finally addresses the issue head on, the film utterly deflates. Unfortunately Fish Tank continues for another half an hour after that, which is where it loses its way. A gifted director but mediocre screenwriter, Arnold relies upon clumsy plot mechanics and too-obvious-by-half symbolism (the last shot in particular is a howler) which equates a lot of strum and drang but not much progression or enriching of the characters. Fish Tank climaxes with a good deal of frenzy and angst but it seems to have been imported from a blunter, far less carefully observed film.

This may dull the overall impact of the film but doesn't quite negate it. Filmed in 4x3 Academy ratio, the film emphasis claustrophobia and tightly composed frames as though Mia can't even escape the small box she's been placed in on screen. It's a household where everyone lives on top of each other. Where everyone shows up to the breakfast table in various stages of undress and thin walls barely disguise the lovemaking in the next room. Arnold's unadorned style consisting of long, peering takes places us in the role of the voyeur, catching stray moments of both sadness and humanity as they unfold.

Jarvis gives a raw, animalistic performance, like a beaten dog backed into a corner. It's a performance built around rage and distrust and the film's at its most touching when we see Mia able to let down her guard enough to merely peacefully coexist with her family. But the story of the film is Fassbender who, I suspect, will not be a secret for much longer. With soft eyes and a boyish grin, Colin lets his thoughts run away from him, relating to the insecure and feral Mia as his contemporary as opposed to the burden her mother views her as. There's a decency to Fassbender's performance in a very difficult and complicated role; Colin is unmistakably acting inappropriately in the film yet it's easy to see how both he and Mia could fall into this trap. Between his work here, in Basterds and this past winter's Hunger, Fassbender has become the break-out actor of 2009, a performer who seemingly can do anything well.

Arnold has enormous upside as a filmmaker and her work with actors is second to none but I do wish however she'd gravitate to someone else's material. This is now the second straight film from her that derails in the last act as she struggles to incorporate unwieldy tonal shifts and dramatic plot turns, when her gift is clearly for understated character drama. Still, Fish Tank is a film to keep your eye out for; it opens early next year. My grade: B

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 12, 2009 9:53 pm

http://www.avclub.com/articles/toronto-film-festival-09-day-2,32821/

Fish Tank
Director/Country/Time: Andrea Arnold/U.K./124 min.
Cast: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing
Program: Vanguard
Headline: Everything but the kitchen sink (which is full of dirty dishes)
Scott’s Take: Though it was my first exposure to Arnold’s work—I haven’t seen her acclaimed short films or her kindly received debut feature Red Road—Fish Tank struck me as a little late to the kitchen-sink realist party. Like a cross between the foul-mouthed humanity of Ken Loach’s underclass slices-of-life and the fussed-over rednecksploitation of Harmony Korine, Fish Tank stakes out a sliver of its own territory by focusing on female toughness and aggression. The performances are all first-rate, leading with young Katie Jarvis, who plays a hard-drinking, 15-year-old troublemaker who dreams of being a street-style dancer, but in the meantime crushes on her mother’s boyfriend, played by the excellent Michael Fassbender of Hunger and Inglourious Basterds fame. Jarvis’ relentless pursuit of her passions, however dangerous they might be, keeps the intensity high, but it’s Fassbender’s enigmatic character that holds the most intrigue. At times, he seems almost fatherly in his treatment of Jarvis—a scene where he gives her a mock-spanking is oddly heartbreaking in the way it embarrasses her desire for him—but at others it’s a little harder to tell what lines he’s capable of crossing. Too bad Fish Tank botches the ending so badly. Arnold excels at minute observation—the sign of a great short filmmaker—but when it comes time to bring the film to a close, she forces Jarvis into a decision that’s preposterous even by the standards of a morally wayward 15-year-old.
Grade: B-

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:00 pm

http://dorkshelf.com/2009/09/17/tiff-review-fish-tank/

TIFF Review: Fish Tank
Posted: September 17th, 2009 | Author: Shelagh
Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank

15 year-old Mia’s life is claustrophobic. The council estate flat that she shares with her mother and sister is tiny. The corridors are tiny, and filled with young people who swear in ways that would make Mickey Rourke blush. Her mother seems to care little for her; in fact, there doesn’t seem to be anyone to care for Mia. She spends her days breaking into an empty flat to practice dancing while looking out over the landscape outside of the estate, but it offers no hope. That is, until Mum gets a new boyfriend who seems too good to be true. Andrea Arnold’s second feature, Fish Tank, bursts out of the gate from the first frame and doesn’t let the viewer have a moment’s rest.

Framed in a 4×3 aspect ratio to keep this idea of claustrophobia, Arnold has created another gut-wrenching story. And she is not one to reveal her secrets easily, like her main character. The title suggests the claustrophobic and exposed world Mia lives in. In such tight quarters there is nowhere to hide. Mia develops a crush on her mother’s new boyfriend Connor (played by the continually amazing Michael Fassbender). He takes the family to a country pub and expresses an interest in Mia’s dancing, which he encourages her pursue. One night Mia spies through the door on her mother and Connor as they are having sex, the look on her face suggesting she is imagining herself in her mother’s place. Mia can turn from angry to vulnerable and back again at the drop of a hat, sometimes resorting to actions that would seem almost too extreme, too violent, too harsh. But Arnold then takes us back to the world Mia occupies: how can she possible find a way out when she is banging her head against a glass wall?

These are not necessarily people who just need some help; some of them are awful. But they are trapped and the only ways out offered to them may be just as hopeless. Michael Fassbender is amazing as always, but the real revelation of this film is Katie Jarvis, who with nary a drama class, conveys Mia as a girl not so street smart as she would like to think, and capable of acts both brave and horrifying. Arnold’s script and camera close in and tear apart ideas of the poor, youth, and what makes a good man.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:25 pm

French

http://journal-d-une-lectrice.over-blog.net/article-fish-tank-andrea-arnold-39194254.html

Fish tank - Andrea Arnold

Mia, fifteen years, is one angry teenager. She is out of school, in permanent conflict with an immature mother, angry with her girlfriends, and the only words that come out of his mouth are insults, especially when it comes to communicating with his little sister Tyler. She lives in a sad HLM a devastated city of England. To escape this dull day, she has two passions: an old mare owned by gypsies, and dance. Her thing is hip hop. She is locked up for hours in an empty apartment and she dances.

One day her mother brings home a new (and very sexy) boyfriend, who moved. Ignoring Mia aggression towards him, Connor decides to make friends with the girl. For the first time in her life, Mia heard positive words about her: she dances well, she's pretty ... Finally he encourages and supports her in what she feels most at heart: dance. She learns to smile and give her confidence. An ambiguous relationship is created with this man who is both father figure and embodiment of sexual desire ...

In the vein of social realism as Ken Loach or Mike Leigh, Andrea Arnold portrays a youth with little future, but not devoid of desires. From the opening scenes, Mia (beautifully played by Katie Jarvis) moves us despite the violence, for all the frustration we feel throbbing inside her. But it's less about the social context on the relationship to another as the film insists. With Connor (Michael Fassbender), Mia discovers both the awakening of desire and exchange with each other. She wins in humanity, even if it makes us very scared when she is on the verge of crossing the red line (it does not pass precisely demonstrate maturity brand new). And finally we are glad to see out of his "Aquarium".

This film won the Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival last year.

British Film (2009) by Andrea Arnold,
With Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing, Harry Treadaway.
Genre: Drama, Duration: 2:02.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:55 pm

http://liferthemoviecorner.blogspot.com/2009/10/fish-tank.html

Title: Fish Tank
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Drama
Starring: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender
Director: Andrea Arnold

I’d like to think I keep on top of all the indie films that are being released, but in truth I know that I’m not. Despite this fact, this was one film that I had to bump on my list. From the get go we see how important realism is to the film; it doesn’t force feed you the same tired lines of how difficult a life a single mother has, or of life growing up in a London estate and how testing it could be. These aspects are all present, but it’s the backdrop to the story, rather than the story itself. Likewise, in an almost documentary style of film, it isn’t concerned with defining a beginning middle and end; it has a grand purpose behind the meandering scenes, gently allowing you to learn more about the characters so that you can draw conclusions upon them, but will ultimately let you come to your own definition of what that might be.

The film focuses on Mia, an ‘unknown’ that wasn’t cast the role for her acting abilities, but rather for who she was; a high school dropout, discovered having a loud argument with her boyfriend across the platform at Tilbury station. To try to comment on her acting ability would seem a little futile as in reality she is Mia; the manner she walks and talks, how she reacts and behaves is presented in a realistic way because it was a genuine reaction; even withheld from their scripts until a few days before shooting, meaning the transitions that are gone through are as realistic as possible. From the mood swings and strops, she offers her mesmerising ability to play the aggressive loud mouthed character before snapping out of it and transforming into a more amicable mood without feeling disjointed. In fact, if anything it is done in a manner that is too realistic, with much of the dialogue and mannerisms that are common to me may well be foreign to others.

The rest of the cast perform their roles wonderfully, capable of providing the subtle nods and hints at tension that don’t require a separate piece of dialogue to make apparent. In particular Connor (Fassbender), the new boyfriend of Mia’s mother, succeeds in portraying a character that altogether seems too nice to be true, with a nagging feeling that something isn’t right which eventually reveals itself. This isn’t as dark or disturbing as it easily could have been, and it is this light-hearted attitude towards the subject matter that shows willing not to vilify and demean people in similar situations, nor try to overtly get the audience to pity them. It treads a fine middle ground, which rather than telling you what to think, or proffering the opinion of the director, asks the viewer to form their own.

But thus far I’ve been quite vague as to what this film is about – and intentionally so – as I’m apprehensive as to go into detail what I took from it. The main theme of the ‘Fish Tank,’ is on the surface, not a difficult one; like the fish, Mia is trapped by the estate, trapped with other fish barking away without respect for her, longing to escape however she can. We are casually shown her habitual drinking from the beginning, her desire to escape to her music so she can dance, even latching onto any new character from outside in the hope of escaping her own tank, if only for a little while. If Shane Meadows is the king of the docu-drama’s about the North, Andrea Arnold may well have taken the first step to becoming the Queen of the South.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:06 am

http://noordinaryfool.com/2009/09/22/fishtank/

Fish Tank – A Film Review
Posted on Tuesday, 22 September 2009 by Longman Oz

Life’s a bitch and then you die
That’s why we get high
Cause you never know
When you’re gonna go

Life’s a Bitch – Nas

Men and women grope each other wildly, disputes are settled with a head butt, booze and verbal abuse run freely, and children stare dead-eyed at vacuous television programmes. Welcome to the troubled world of Mia (Katie Jarvis), a surly rake of a 15-year old who spends her time either in the solitary practise of dance routines or getting into loud arguments with all and sundry around her rundown council estate. The neglected product of a single-parent home, temporary solace seems only to be found in cider, cigarettes, and CDs.

The film takes up Mia’s story around the time when her mother (Kierston Wareing) first brings home a new boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender). His kindness, humour, and physical presence pique her interest. Indeed, it is thanks to his words of encouragement that Mia gains the courage to put herself forward for a dance audition and a chance at escape from her dead-end existence. However, the pressures of her claustrophobic existence, as well as a growing awareness of her own sexuality inevitably introduce complications into this narrative arc.

As implied by the title, director Andrea Arnold creates a horribly confined and unpleasant world here for the audience to peer in on and for the likes of Mia to see little way out of. Here she is superbly aided by the photography of Robbie Ryan, who captures many fine images, especially of the ominously oppressive weather. Equally, some of the camera shots and lighting techniques are really quite impressive.

On the acting side, Fassbender, who looks here like he has gained little weight since making Hunger, shows his range in a role that balances a sense of sincere parental concern for Mia with a worrying flash of corruptive lechery. Alongside him, Jarvis is then quite astonishing in this debut role – a scrawny ball of bile one minute, a fragile innocent the next. Her fury, intensity, unpredictability, and vulnerability are crucial to the success of several disconcerting scenes in the film’s final third. Finally, Charlotte Collins, as Mia’s younger sister, is a delightful foul-mouthed and impudent imp who brings some much needed humour to this otherwise quite gritty realist drama.

In an overall sense, Arnold presents a very unpleasant world here, where pre-adolescents drink and smoke at home, where parents are shockingly self-absorbed, feckless, and cruel, where its inhabitants only become alive at the prospect of alcohol and sex, and where the life gets slowly crushed out of people. The poignant scene, near the end, in Mia’s living room cleverly serves to illustrate the hopeless choreographed lifes that these characters seem fated to live out. If it was not for the fact that you know that this story is not far from reality for so many people, one might fell tempted to scorn this film for its excesses. Rather, it needs to be praised for still finding humanity in its characters despite its unwillingness to compromise.

On the whole, Fish Tank is a fine working class drama that confirms Arnold’s potential as a worthy successor to the likes of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sun Dec 13, 2009 1:29 am

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/film-festival-reports/707-telluride-2009-festival.html

Fish Tank
Telluride 2009 Festival

Another one that could easily be higher on the list. Fish Tank is made possible by the terrific camera presence of Katie Jarvis. She plays 15 year old Mia, living in rough circumstances in public housing in a small Southeastern English town. Hip Hop music and dancing are her only pleasure, family life with her single mother and younger sister is so rough she keeps this pleasure private. When mom finds a new boyfriend things begin to look up. The boyfriend is played by Michael Fassbender (Hunger, Inglorious Basterds) who is quietly becoming the best actor of his generation. For a short while this movie looks like it’s going to be one of those ‘dancing movies’ but that quickly takes a back seat to a much rougher story.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sun Dec 13, 2009 1:31 am

http://screenfever.blogspot.com/2009/09/fish-tank-futuremoviescouk.html

Friday, 11 September 2009
Fish Tank (futuremovies.co.uk)
Mia is a 15-year old council estate-dwelling girl with a short temper, a fractured relationship with her mother and a cider-drinking younger sister who knows far too many swear-words for her own good. Her only escape from this thankless existence is to retreat to an abandoned flat whenever possible and lose herself in hip-hop dancing. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t naturally go out of my way to spend two hours with a girl like Mia, but thankfully, Andrea Arnold decided she wanted to. In doing so she’s made not only a brilliant and beautifully bruised character study, but also arguably one of the best films of the year.

The plot is a slight thing – it is more a film about being than doing – but the central event is the arrival of Connor (Michael Fassbender), the new man in Mia’s mother’s life, and the impact that he has on the impressionable and insecure Mia. From the moment that she encounters Connor half-naked in the kitchen, the film becomes electrified by an escalating sexual tension. Connor does nothing to defuse it, Mia doesn’t quite know what to do with it, and we know that it must lead somewhere, and it won’t be good.

Mia is played by newcomer Katie Jarvis in her first ever performance, and she demonstrates a natural ability in front of the camera. Her unselfconscious openness to Arnold’s camera draws us in to Mia’s confused life and worldview, so rather than watching from a distance and judging her, we live these moments alongside her. Fassbender, recently so brilliant in Inglourious Basterds, is also fantastic here in a totally different role. Initially he’s all effortless charm and knowing, but that is undercut by hints of insecurity that only become more pronounced as his character’s secrets are revealed.

Arnold excels at creating tension using little more than naturalistic performances and precise camera movements, and in Fish Tank, just as in her Oscar-winning short film Wasp, it is the sense that some terrible event is always just around the corner that most strongly pervades the atmosphere. The effect here is to believably convey the fragility of any peace that the characters may find, and it lends an almost tangible intensity to much of the film.

But while Fish Tank is certainly dark, it is not all-pervadingly so. Arnold is as interested in life’s beauty as its struggles, and captures some truly transcendent moments – an impromptu dance to James Brown on a sunny afternoon; the oddly beautiful sight of a horse in an abandoned wasteland - with the assistance of her cinematographer Robbie Ryan. In fact, the beauty of the film’s composition is almost overwhelming at points; unlike so many British directors, Arnold has a large cinematic vision that sets her apart as a real artist.

If the film has one flaw, it’s the occasional weak plotting, which is only noticeable because the characterisation is so strong. When your lead character is so brilliantly realised it’s harder to get away with lapses in story logic, and this becomes apparent in a certain course of action Mia takes towards the end of the film. This is no slight on Andrea Arnold’s excellent achievement here though, and emphasises how strongly Fish Tank succeeds on every other level.
9/10.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sun Dec 13, 2009 1:36 am

http://www.onhallowground.com/2009/09/reviews-tiffs-fish-tank.html

Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Reviews - TIFF's Fish Tank
Ghost Writer: Michele A.

*SPOILER WARNING
4 1/2 out of 5 shovels

In the best of all possible worlds, a parent guides a child through life, cushions her against life's bumps, and provides, to the best of her ability, a safe environment to develop and flourish.

15-year-old Mia (played by Katie Jarvis in an amazing acting debut) does not have that sort of parent. Her mother (Kiersten Wareing), a 40-ish divorcee, has little use for Katie or her pre-teen sister Tyler. She spends most of her time preening, dressing like a teenager, and going out dancing and drinking. They live in a depressing, dingy apartment in a run-down development. The two girls, left to fend for themselves, drink and smoke when their mother is out, which is most of the time. In contrast to her mother's provocative style, Mia covers up - sweatpants, track shoes, hoodies - as though in denial of her own femininity. She is easily provoked into physical altercations at the neighborhood parks, on one occasion bloodying another girl's nose. But underneath the toughness, there is a vulnerability that makes her a very appealing character.

Mia's life changes when her mother brings home a younger lover, Conner (Michael Fassbender). He moves in with them, explaining that he had been living with his mother, who threw him out. At first Mia is antagonistic toward Conner, but they soon drift into a tentative friendship, and you sense that Mia fancies him a father figure. At the very least, he is kind to her and encourages her in her desire to audition for a local dancing competition. Her mother is jealous of their developing relationship as Mia's feminity begins to flower.

One night, everything comes to a head. Mia's mother, intoxicated, falls asleep and Mia is left alone with Conner. They have both been drinking, she dances for him provocatively and their relationship becomes sexual.

When Mia awakens the next morning, Conner is gone. Angry and betrayed, she goes to his place of work, then to his home and discovers that he has been leading a double life. She is provoked into doing something dangerous, possibly lethal, and at this pivotal moment in the story you fear for her and for the innocent she has targeted.

Yet throughout all of this, you are rooting for Mia. She is unloved, with no direction, but she is a survivor. At the end of the film, she finds a solution that, in any other situation, you would think unsuitable, but for Mia, it is the only way out. You cross your fingers, say a prayer and wish her well.

Director Andrea Arnold, at the Q&A following the Toronto screening, revealed that Katie Jarvis had no acting experience or training when she was selected to play Mia. She was discovered on a train platform. Her boyfriend was across the tracks on the opposite platform, and she was yelling at him with such animation that it caught the attention of one of the film crew who was there. She was given a business card, she auditioned, and was given the role of Mia.

Katie Jarvis is a natural. She created a character that was both unlikable and, at the same time, lovable. Not an easy feat, for any actress.

This has just been released in the U.K. after doing well on the film festival circuit. No release date in North America as yet. It deserves to be seen by a wide audience - Katie Jarvis is an actress to watch.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sun Dec 13, 2009 5:33 am

http://thirtyframesasecond.wordpress.com/tag/michael-fassbender/

UK
Director: Arnold Arnold
124 min

Synopsis

Essex, UK, the present. Mia, a fifteen year old girl lives on a council estate with her feckless mother, Joanne and younger sister, Tyler. Her sole form of self-expression is dance. Mia engages in an argument with some girls on the estate, one of whom she headbutts. Angry, she breaks into a traveller’s site and tries to liberate a chained horse, but is interrupted. One morning, as she dances in the kitchen, she is observed by Connor, the new boyfriend of her mother, to whom Mia is initially hostile, despite Tyler’s friendliness towards him. Connor spends more time at the flat; throwing a party, taking them for a drive – during which he catches a fish with Mia’s help and Connor tends to the wounds Mia suffers in the process.

Mia borrows Connor’s videocamera to audition for a position as dancer at a local club. One evening, when Joanne and Connor return home drunk, Joanne passes out upstairs. Connor asks Mia to show him her audition. They then have sex. The next morning, Connor has left. Mia tracks him down to his home in Tilbury, where he lives with his wife and young daughter, Keira. Connor drives her back to the train station, but she returns, kidnapping Keira whilst she plays in the street. When Keira accidentally falls in the river, Mia rescues her and returns her. Connor then finds Mia and punches her. Mia attends her dance audition, but realising it’s a seedy club, leaves. Mia leaves for Cardiff with Billy, a young man from the traveller’s site.

Review

Perhaps the brightest hope for British cinema currently, Andrea Arnold’s burgeoning career has been synonimised by awards and acclaim at every turn. Her short ‘Wasp’ (2003) won an Oscar, whilst her debut feature ‘Red Road’ (2006), made under the influence of the Dogme ‘95 movement won the Jury Prize at Cannes. So the hopes for her latest film, ‘Fish Tank’ were high and she hasn’t disappointed. Like ‘Red Road’, the film received the Jury Prize at Cannes this year, putting Arnold in rare company. ‘Fish Tank’ has already opened to very promising reviews in the British press, though it’s unlikely to crossover into mainstream territory, which is a shame as it’s a very honest, truthful film that shows an insight into a particular social class without resorting to patronising them.

The Essex council estates that bridge the city and the countryside are territory that Arnold knows all too well. ‘Wasp’ covered similar ground, focusing on the efforts of a poor, single mother on an estate to find a new boyfriend/father. This might have been set in Dartford, Arnold’s home town, but it could be anywhere to be honest. Arnold has disagreed with her critics who describe her work as leaning heavily on the grim side of life amongst the socially excluded. She doesn’t view her films this way; that although they’re set in these environments, they’re hardly ‘Nil By Mouth’ territory; that they focus on the lives of her characters as honestly as possible and offer hope. And there are also hints of autobiography here and there. Arnold doesn’t agree that estates are intrinsically depressing places and the film reinforces this.

The casting of Katie Jarvis in the role of Mia has become the stuff of minor cinematic folklore. Arnold’s casting director apparently witnessed her arguing with her boyfriend at Tilbury and recommended her for the part immediately. It’s an inspired decision. Even amongst the professional thesps on show (Kierston Wareing, Michael Fassbender), Jarvis more than holds her own in this central performance. It’s by some distance the most impressive performance I’ve seen by a young actor. She inhabits Mia so completely that you’d have to imagine that Jarvis and Mia are more or less one in the same. It’s a subtle, nuanced performance, capturing every aspect of Mia’s personality – her anger, her suspicion, her pride, her potential for verbal and physical violence, but also her potential for compassion, demonstrated mostly with her affectionate relationship with the tethered horse. Coming from a family where “I hate you” means the same as “I love you” and where a term of affection is “I’ll kill you last”, it’s no wonder that Mia remains guarded when faced with Connor’s friendly, warm demeanour. Jarvis has since had a child, so let’s hope she returns to acting and she’s some talent.

As the ‘relationship’ between Mia and Connor grows, demonstrated by slightly worrying moments of physical touching and the character’s accentuated breathing (through some neat sound effects work), there’s only one way this is going to go. Arnold allows this to be signposted a mile off. It doesn’t come as any surprise to us when the inevitable occurs. This makes it all the more disturbing of course, because we’ve had time to consider what will take place between Mia and Connor and even when it occurs, it’s extremely difficult to watch. What Arnold, to her credit, doesn’t do is try to explain to justify why Connor acts how he does. Whilst Mia’s family wear their motivations on their sleeve, Connor’s life is shrouded in mystery. Of course we never believe him when his mysterious ‘phone calls and seemingly being kicked out of home are because of his mother. We always suspect he has a family somewhere, but why latch onto Joanne and her family? And why then have sex with Mia? It’s hinted at some jealousy towards her relationship with Billy, the boy from the travellers site. There’s so many questions left unanswered. Connor’s departure sets in motion a peculiar revenge episode, which I’m not sure I found really convincing; from the way Mia was able to kidnap Keira to her seemingly homicidal intent. The positive byproduct of his departure was at least to facilitate a stronger relationship between Mia and Joanne.

Arnold and her regular DoP Robbie Ryan make the most of their settings; from the claustrophobic council estates that provide the film with its title to the evocative, wide-open spaces of the countryside, there’s a real sense of poetry here but never a fetishistic dwelling upon the seamier side of things. The relationship between Mia and Connor is also shot in a hazy, woozy fashion, as if reflective of a young woman’s sexual awakening, capturing the confusion and sensuality perfect. Complimenting the impressive visual work is a rich sense of authenticity and reality from the protagonists and milieu. ‘Fish Tank’ sometimes loses its way in its final third, once Mia discovers Connor’s secret, but on the whole it’s a striking, sympathetic film that largely deserves the reputation it’s acquiring.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Mon Dec 14, 2009 8:05 pm

http://movieskickassblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/fish-tank.html

Monday, December 14, 2009
Fish Tank ***

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

Mia (Jarvis) is a fifteen year old living in the poorest part of Essex. She shares a small apartment with her mother Joanne (Wareing) and sister Tyler (Griffiths) with whom she doesn't get along well.

She dreams of becoming a dancer and spends hours listening to hip-hop, R & B and then practicing her moves in an abandoned apartment. She's a loner of sorts and in one of the film's first scenes we see her hitting a girl in the face for not inviting her to join her group.

Things begin to change when Joanne brings her new boyfriend Connor (Fassbender) home. "You dance like a black" he tells Mia when he catches her dancing in the kitchen, "that's a compliment" he clarifies.
Connor might be the first person who's said something nice to Mia in years and when he takes the whole family for a ride and then carries Mia to the car after she hurts her ankle, we just know where this is going.
Everything Mia does has the bigger purpose of helping her escape from the sad life she leads and everything writer/director Arnold does has the purpose of making us wonder how many times can Mia's heart be broken.
Arnold and cinematographer Robbie Ryan capture this woman's sad existence and encapsulate her existence into a fish tank of sorts, Mia's always looking from the inside out, longing for better things to come.

In an unsubtle metaphor for freedom she becomes obsessed with releasing a chained horse, kept in a lot by caretaker Liam (Maza) who she's convinced is actually starving the animal.

Arnold isn't very good with storytelling subtleties and overcharges specific moments with unnecessary details (a scene has Joanne dancing to a rap song that states "life's a bitch and then you die") but she proves to be great with actors.

Jarvis, in her film debut, is a naturalistic wonder that would make the Dardennes and Bresson proud. She makes Mia someone so mysterious that you have to wonder how much exactly has she gone through.
Even if her explosiveness is a force to be reckoned with, she's at her best in more introspective scenes where she just can't hide from herself anymore.

"You look nice when you smile" says the predatory Connor and he's right cause Jarvis has the ability to make Mia someone completely different with a simple mouth movement.

She does great work with Fassbender (quickly becoming one of the most interesting actors out there) who makes a seductive charmer out of Connor.

From the minute he appears onscreen we know he won't be good for Mia, but like her, we can't help but fall for his scheming. To the point in which we wonder how much exactly are we contributing to his plans.

Both actors have the one quality that the entire movie lacked which would've made it perfect: fearlessness.
Watch one scene where Connor puts Mia to bed. He carries her and takes off her shoes. She's awake and peeks to see what he will do next, when he takes off her pants as well she keeps quiet and we have to wonder if he knew she was conscious. This is the film's best scene and the one that encompasses its themes the best.

But Arnold chooses to rely more on forgiveness and in a latter panic inducing scene set in the Essex marshes, she gives Mia the redemption she deserves, but perhaps doesn't really need.

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Thu Dec 17, 2009 9:31 pm

http://oscarnazi.blogspot.com/2009/12/review-fish-tank.html

Thursday, December 17, 2009
Review - Fish Tank
Saw this at TIFF months ago, but haven't been able to put my thoughts in print until now, so here it goes.

Many youths are angrier these days. They're violent, they're sexually confused, and they abuse drugs and alcohol. And who's to blame? The parents? To an extent, but the terrific British indie Fish Tank suggests that the onus should be put on the whole of a society that encourages children to grow up before their time. The same society that then discards delinquent youths as hopeless cases, when they're the ones who need the most attention. Badly.

These are heavy themes for a young actor to pull off, but Fish Tank thrives on the blistering performance of discovery Katie Jarvis. She plays Mia, a fifteen year-old with secret dreams of being a hip-hop dancer, but who feels suffocated in her decrepit suburban neighbourhood. She does come from a broken home, but writer/director Andrea Arnold is quick to direct our attention to the squalid neighbourhood in which Mia has been brought up. Starved for freedom and compassion, she is chained down to this way of life like a captured animal, a visual motif that Arnold returns to several times throughout the film, most notably in the form of an old horse Mia repeatedly attempts to rescue. But when Mia's deadbeat mother (scathingly performed by Kierston Wareing) brings home a new boyfriend who actually gives Mia some of the love she's never had (Michael Fassbender of 2008's Hunger), she starts lowering her defenses. But how will her sensitive psyche handle such huge changes?

Arnold employs a very utilitarian photographic style, but she still manages to capture some truly original and purposeful shots that don't seem out of place with the rest of the film. Intelligibly edited to boot, Fish Tank represents one the most subtly but exceptionally crafted films of the year.

All said, Fish Tank is an excellent film, delivering a number of emotionally crushing blows and probing the plight and struggle of our world's psychologically impoverished youths. It deserves awards attention, but I wouldn't count on it. It's earned positive festival notices but that's not enough for any Academy attention, and it's not even getting a theatrical run until next year. Sadly, “no Oscar for you”.

***1/2 out of ****

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sun Dec 20, 2009 2:18 am

http://www.hmonthly.com/blog/2009/12/19/fish-tank-film-review/

Fish Tank – Film Review

Posted on 19. Dec, 2009 by Administrator in Film/TV

by Brent Simon

Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize winner Fish Tank, from British writer-director Andrea Arnold, is a gritty, naturalistic drama that will slowly envelop patient arthouse audiences on the strength of its powerhouse performances. A slice of social realism in the vein of Ken Loach, this slow-boil, Essex-set tale of teen alienation and acting out is an example of character study done right.

Fifteen-year-old Mia (Katie Jarvis) is in a constant state of war with her younger sister, her schoolmates, and neighbors, without any constructive creative outlet for her considerable energies, save a secret love of hip-hop dancing. When her party-happy mother Joanne (Kierston Wareing), an across-the-pond version of Amy Ryan’s character from Gone Baby Gone, brings home a rakish new boyfriend, Connor (Inglourious Basterds’ Michael Fassbender), the rudderless Mia is quietly amazed to find him return her attention. In fits and starts, she argumentatively pushes him away and seeks his approval, believing he can help her start to make sense of her life. Slippery slope inappropriateness ensues.

In Fish Tank, there’s none of the vanity so typically associated with American films centered on teen protagonists, and the performances are something special. Acting neophyte Jarvis shines, conveying a believable spitfire mixture of teen vulnerability and anger, while the charismatic Fassbender, a star in the making, puts a good sheen on a character whose actions label him a cad.

At two hours, Fish Tank is a bit overlong, but part of its engagement lies in the inexorably mounting tension in wondering whether the narrative is really going where you think it might be headed. It goes without saying that Hollywood studios wouldn’t touch this material without benefit of a moralizing conclusion, but the American indie version of this story would also most likely find it necessary to ascribe explicatory backstory, motivation or revelation to Connor, which Arnold rather refreshingly does not. Men, like adolescents, Arnold seems to say, tend to take. The value judgment one places on that is not her primary concern.

(R, 4 out of 5 )

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Mon Dec 28, 2009 10:08 pm

http://michaelbayistheantichrist.wordpress.com/2009/12/29/fish-tank/

Andrea Arnold’s sophomore film is a British indie drama about Mia, a volatile young girl aspiring to be a dancer while living with her dysfunctional family in a rundown neighborhood. When Mia’s mother brings home a new boyfriend, an odd series of events occur, prompting everything to change for Mia and her family. It’s somewhat similar plot-wise to An Education, only much more authentic and in a lower class setting. And much better.

Katie Jarvis, in her first performance ever, is absolutely brilliant as Mia and if there was any justice would be a shoe-in at the Oscars. Michael Fassbender, who starred in last year’s Hunger and had a role in Inglourious Basterds, plays the new boyfriend and is also terrific (he’s quickly becoming one of my favorite actors).

Despite being such a small film with a shoe-string budget, natural lighting, and an unknown lead actress, Fish Tank is one of the most arresting and poignant films in recent memory. It uses everything it has so effectively. I’ll certainly never see Bobby Womack’s song “California Dreamin” in the same way.

As far as I know Fish Tank does not yet have a U.S. release date, and when it is released chances are it won’t be at your local theatre so you’ll probably have to go out of your way to check it out. But please do, it deserves more exposure.

RATING: 9.5/10 (one of the best of the year)

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