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Reviews and SPOILERS

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Tue Jan 05, 2010 1:42 am

http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/article/looking-forward-to-fish-tank-as-the-trailer-arrives

Looking Forward to 'Fish Tank' as the Trailer Arrives
Been looking forward to this one for a while
BY: Brad Brevet | January 4th 2010 at 7:36 PM

It arrives in limited theaters on January 15 and was talked about plenty throughout 2009 as Fish Tank made the rounds starting at Cannes, hit up Edinburgh, moved to Telluride, then Toronto and on and on. It won the Jury Prize at Cannes and Best British Performance in Edinburgh for star Katie Jarvis and I have been anxious to give it a watch since watching the promo trailer back in August.

The film is a coming-of-age story centering on 15-year-old Mia (Jarvis) who is in a constant state of war with her family and the world around her, without any creative outlet for her considerable energies save a secret love of hip-hop dance. When she meets her party-girl mother's charming new boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender), she is amazed to find he returns her attention, and believes he might help her start to make sense of her life. A clear-eyed, potent portrait of teenage sexuality and vulnerability.

Fassbender, as I am sure many of you know, starred in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds as Lt. Archie Hicox as well as Steve McQueen's Hunger, which hits Criterion DVD and Blu-ray on February 16. Fish Tank writer/director Andrea Arnold won the Oscar for Best Short Film (Live Action) in 2003 for Wasp.

You can check out the trailer directly below and be on the look out for the film in limited theaters on January 15 as well as On Demand on January 13.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Tue Jan 05, 2010 2:04 am

http://www.hd-trailers.net/blog/2010/01/04/fish-tank-trailer/

Fish Tank (Trailer)
Monday, January 04th, 2010 | Author: Krunk

Fish Tank Poster The most honored British film of the year is Academy Award®️ winning filmmaker Andrea Arnold’s Cannes Jury Prize winner, FISH TANK. The film is an emotionally stunning coming-of-age story, electrified by the breakthrough performance of its young star Katie Jarvis. Fifteen-year-old Mia (Katie Jarvis) is in a constant state of war with her family and the world around her, without any creative outlet for her considerable energies save a secret love of hip-hop dance. When she meets her party-girl mother’s charming new boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender), she is amazed to find he returns her attention, and believes he might help her start to make sense of her life. A clear-eyed, potent portrait of teenage sexuality and vulnerability, FISH TANK confirms writer/director Arnold’s status as one of the leading figures of new British cinema. (Source)
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Wed Jan 06, 2010 2:33 am

http://www.slashfilm.com/2010/01/05/fish-tank-movie-trailer-2/

Fish Tank Movie Trailer #2

Posted on Tuesday, January 5th, 2010 by Peter Sciretta

One of the things I really love about my film festival trips is that I get to discover some great small indie gems to share with you guys. Films that probably wouldn’t otherwise get exposure on a mainstream film blog like /Film. The film which most fits that bill from 2009’s Telluride Film Festival is a coming of age movie titled Fish Tank. The film is from Academy Award-winning short film writer and director Andrea Arnold, who won the 2006 Cannes Jury Prize with Red Road. Here is the official plot synopsis for Fish Tank:

In Fish Tank (which is not about Fish or tanks for that matter), 15 year old Mia’s life is turned on its head when her mom brings home a new boyfriend. Arnold casts the same unflinching, unprejudiced gaze and touches on the themes of her Oscar-winning short Wasp to create an original and unsettling tale for our age.

Following his acclaimed central performance in Hunger, Michael Fassbender (300, Inglourious Basterds) stars opposite talented newcomer Katie Jarvis. Rounding out the principal cast are BAFTA-nominated Kierston Wareing (Ken Loach’s It’s a Free World), Harry Treadaway (Control, Brothers of the Head) and 12 year old Rebecca Griffiths making her film debut.

Fish Tank is an outstanding character piece with powerful performances, more than anything else — which is to say that if you require a story with big plot points, this may not be your thing. It’s a coming of age story with a strong female protagonist, something you don’t often see in Hollywood now-a-days. The film hits theaters in the UK on September 11th 2009, but IFC has yet to announce details about the U.S. release. We previously featured an international trailer for the film on the site. IFC Films have finally released a trailer for the domestic release, which you can watch embedded after the jump. The movie hits theaters on January 15th, and will be available on demand on January 13th.


Last edited by greyeyegoddess on Fri Jan 08, 2010 6:40 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Wed Jan 06, 2010 3:51 am

http://stalepopcornau.blogspot.com/2010/01/youre-whats-wrong-with-me.html

Wednesday, January 6, 2010
"You're what's wrong with me!"
The US trailer for Andrea Arnold's truly astonishing Fish Tank has landed and it is a very strange creature indeed. Marketing this movie as an inspiring "coming of age" tale will not help it reach outside of the ever shrinking arthouse ghetto. It's a shame that barely anybody will see this, but that's just the way it is. There's also a newly released poster to the left there for you to enjoy.

Note to any readers who haven't seen the film yet, the trailer is presented in widescreen, but in actual fact the film is in the old school TV aspect ratio to represent the POV of the characters and how they see their world (or some such, according to Arnold).


Just watching that makes me recall how searing and potent it was and how excellent Katie Jarvis was and what a year Michael Fassbender had! Speaking of Fassbender...







Yes, I think we can all agree that that is an appropriate way to sell your bleakish British council estate movie.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Wed Jan 06, 2010 8:34 pm

http://innerdiablog.blogspot.com/2010/01/fish-tank-2009.html

Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Fish Tank (2009)

Andrea Arnold's follow up to Red Road (2006) won her the Jury Prize at Cannes for the second time this year (shared with Thirst). Gritty and grotty in equal measure, the movie is set within the eastern expansion of London as yet unreached by regeneration. It's a landscape of sink estates, urban wasteland, riverside marshes, banal suburban strips and young people whose only way of interacting is via verbal abuse (when not displaying outright aggression).

Mia is a troubled, fifteen-year old latchkey kid whose young, single and debauched mother has just acquired a new bloke. This is the charming and well-toned Irish security guard Connor, a man trying hard to come over as a free spirit. Prior to his arrival Mia had been getting her kicks from headbutting her ex-best friend and breaking into an empty flat on the estate to practice her hip hop moves. Through her fascination with Connor we start to see Mia's softer side as well as her strikingly purposeful nature.

Indeed, perhaps Arnold is most deserving of praise here for finding ways of making such dire people and circumstances sympathetic and the playing out of this drama so gripping. The on-screen appeal of Michael Fassbender has helped a lot. The minor subplot involving Mia's efforts on behalf of a sick and ageing horse is also a contributing factor, though I found this element of the story a bit contrived.

This is Katie Jarvis's first film. She was reportedly spotted by the director having a row with her boyfriend at a bus shelter in Tilbury. I can just imagine the scene. In fact there was much about the film to take us back to our adventures in the more unreconstructed parts of the docklands. (Plevna Street and Silvertown spring most readily to mind.)

Grade: A -
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:11 am

http://www.hypertoast.net/trailer-for-fish-tank/129

hypertoast
nerdcore for the masses
07
Jan
Trailer for Fish Tank
by: snazzlexberries to: Movie Previews

Directed by Andrea Arnold, a British Academy Award-winning filmmaker, Fish Tank is a coming-of-age story of a young girl named Mia (Katie Jarvis). Everything changes for Mia when her “mum” brings home her new boyfriend (Michael Fassbender). Released in September 2009 in the UK, this film is to be released in the US on January 13.

For Katie Jarvis, this is her first debut as an actress. Although she was nominated for Best Actress in the British Independent Film Awards, we’ll see how well she plays her role in this film as a young actress. While there are other few “fresh” casts in this film, Michael Fassbender is no stranger. He is recently known for his role in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds as Lt. Archie Hicox as well as 300, Eden Lake, and one of my favorites, Hunger. Hunger is based on true events of the 1981 hunger strike led by Bobby Sands, a member of the IRA. The cinematography and immense care for detail cannot be missed throughout the film. I recommend any fan of Michael Fassbender or others who love to watch historical-based films to check this one out.

Based on the trailer, Fish Tank looks intimate and moving. Let’s hope it doesn’t turn out to be dull as some coming-of-age films…*ahem* Blue Crush, Love and Basketball, etc. *ahem*
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Jan 08, 2010 6:41 am

http://marceysupergirl.livejournal.com/37066.html

4.5/5

I went into this film not knowing anything about it, just that it was British and it featured Michael Fassbender, I had not even seen a trailer but I had seen some good ratings around the forums I frequent so I thought I would give it a shot. I am sure glad I did, I really thought this was an excellent film.

What is Fish Tank about? What do you think of when you hear the words fish tank? Small environment, trapped maybe? Well that really does sum up the film, our main character is Mia (Katie Jarvis), she is a 15 year old who dreams of becoming a dancer. She is being raised by her alcoholic single mother. Things change when her mother gets a new boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender).

From the start of the film you see Mia shouting and being abusive as she walks around the local neighbourhood. It is obvious she does not really have any friends, and her abusive behaviour easily stems from her mother. Her younger sister shows the same traits and the mother does not seem to care. These early scenes are shot so well, there is a strange beauty to them, and you just can't take your eyes away. Our lead Mia played by new comer Katie Jarvis is nearly flawless in this film. She becomes her character, and she feels awfully real and true to the story being told. This girl wants an escape, she craves a father figure and she craves love and attention.

The relationship we see form between Connor and Mia seems rather harmless at first but you can feel the sexual tension between them both and the feeling that it will lead where you don't want it to sets in. Despite the way she acts, I really wanted Mia to get away from her environment and have a better life. I am not sure if anyone else who saw this felt that way for her, but I really did. I almost felt as trapped as she did at times, especially in certain scenes. There are times where you will feel uncomfortable, but it works too. As I mentioned this film feels very real, and the way it was shot really adds to that feel, it almost feels like sad poem.

As I mentioned Katie Jarvis gives a great performance and Michael Fassbender does as well. There is a certain charm about him but also something strange with Connor, there is always that uncertainty about what his motives might be. Fassbender plays it all so well, I just want to see more of him. The direction by Andrea Arnold is just done so beautifully and truthfully, she has painted a picture of something real and something sad. Definitely one of the best films I got to see in 2009 and I would highly recommend this.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Jan 08, 2010 6:44 am

http://pre-meditated.blogspot.com/2010/01/fish-tank.html

Thursday, January 7, 2010
Fish Tank
Okay, so yesterday I did a little whining about my life and today I am extremely grateful for all the things I get to do, living in this amazing city. Last week a friend of mine left me a voice message and I couldn't really understand the whole message, but I got: "film, Wednesday night, IFC." So I called back and said yes and I still didn't know what we were seeing, so I asked her last night when I went to meet her and she said, "Fish Tank." I've never heard of "Fish Tank", but she said it was supposed to be great and I figured okay, it's free, I get to spend time with my friend and I love movies.

They gave us a handout when we first arrived at the theater. I read the first paragraph "Director Andrea Arnold's film always begin with an image, which she doesn't really understand, but uses it to figure out what the film is about....she doesn't give the actors a script. The seventeen year-old lead was discovered while fighting with her boyfriend on a train platform near the town where the film was eventually shot and when the casting agent approached her and asked if she would like to be in a film, the girl said, 'f&#! off.'" (She thought it was a joke.)

I knew right away that I was probably going to like this movie. Katie Jarvis played the lead and she is quite talented and intuitive.

Anyway,, the film was fascinating. Lots of shades of gray of human behavior, truth and raw performances. The lead actor, Michael Fassbender is brilliant in a difficult role. Everyone walked a very thin line and managed to keep their balance. Everyone was multi-dimensional, which is so rare these days. I can't wait to see it again. Michael Fassbender was there last night to talk about the film and he is charming and incredibly handsome. It was a wonderful night. I love living in NY, I didn't even mind walking home in the cold, and I so appreciate my friends. And really great art.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:28 pm

http://twitchfilm.net/reviews/2010/01/fish-tank-review.php

FISH TANK Review

by Ben Umstead, January 8, 2010 11:14 AM

Drama, UK, Ireland, Australia & New Zealand

Stepping into the shoes Lynne Ramsay has left rather empty for the better part of 5 years, Andrea Arnold, could now be considered the reigning femme heavyweight of UK social realism/ kitchen sink drama; Those doc inspired films of the working class that Ken Loach etched into the cinematic vocabulary in the late 60s with the likes of KES, and in more recent years wherein Shane Meadows has found a strong voice.

But Arnold is neither a Loach, Meadows, and is no where as lyrical as Ramsay. With her second feature, FISH TANK, she establishes herself as a strong, visceral, humane filmmaker with a knack for flowing, natural narratives, and stark, x-ray like visuals, that establish character and mood in seconds while still being incredibly ambiguous.

Ironic then that FISH TANK's story is a conventional at-risk youth tale which populates any number of festivals each year.

Here is how the basics read:

15-year old Mia Williams (Katie Jarvis) lives with her party-prone mother and foul mouthed kid sister in one of those abysmal English housing blocks. She's angry, something of a loner, and has aspirations to be a hip hop dancer. When Michael Fassbinder's Connor, mom's new beau, enters the picture, a taboo flirtation begins.

It is Arnold's choice to not be judgmental of these people, to not turn the film into something about their condition and their social context that ultimately supports and elevates her paint-by-the numbers story.

This is Jarvis' film by a long shot. While Fassbinder is charming and confident, never coming of as a creep, Jarvis' Mia stalks through the frame with a tenacity and lust that is hypnotic.
An untrained actor - she was discovered yelling at her boyfriend across a train station platform - Jarvis gives a raw, strung out, hopped up performance that never lies. Nominated for a BAFTA and a European Film Award, she certainly deserves the attention, even if it isn't really anything we haven't seen before.

Shot in the classic, yet somehow refreshing 4:3 ratio, Robbie Ryan's cinematography runs the visual gauntlet, altogether breathtaking and decrepit in its suburban decay. Arnold and editor, Nicholas Chaudaurge, shape Ryan's work into textured long sequences, where cutting is frequent, but the flow of time is never halted, natural to a fault, and yet at moments slows down to an almost surreal, lethargic dream waltz.

In turn the camera doesn't trail Mia as an omnipotent, outside being. It is a true extension of her perspective and desires.

Coming off a strong European run, with a bevy of awards, IFC releases FISH TANK in the United States, limited on January 15th. It releases on Region 2 DVD January 25th. For Jarvis and the mesmerizing team up of Arnold and Ryan, it is certainly worth a watch.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Jan 09, 2010 12:08 am

http://davesfilmreviews.blogspot.com/2010/01/fish-tank.html

Friday, 8 January 2010
Fish Tank
Year: 2009
Director: Andrea Arnold
Writers: Andrea Arnold
Starring: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Griffiths, Kierston Wareing

Before I start my review I'd just like to apologise for the lack of reviews on my blog recently. I've been posting most of my articles on Row Three and with Christmas and everything it's hard to keep up both. What I will do in the future is post reviews of anything Row Three has already covered on here and continue to link to my Row Three write-ups too. I should have done that with Where the Wild Things Are and A Serious Man, but I didn't get round to it.

Anyway, Fish Tank. This is a film that received a veritable shower of glowing reviews and accolades around it's festival screenings and eventual release, so I was pretty keen on watching it. I must say however, I wasn't without my doubts when I stepped into the theater the other day, as I'm generally of the opinion that gritty urban dramas have been done to death in this country. Ken Loach and Mike Leigh in particular have successfully mined so many corners of the UK's council estates and flats that I didn't think much more could be done on the subject.

Well the plot doesn't offer anything particularly new. Mia (Katie Jarvis) is an underachieving working class teenager living with her unsupportive mother and brash younger sister. Struggling to get a handle on life she falls on dance as her only escape. Her mother's new boyfriend Connor (Hunger's Michael Fassbender) abruptly enters their life and Mia falls for him as object of passion as well as a father figure through the support and attention he gives her.

As the description above suggests, this isn't a totally original story and to be honest most of the strands lead to predictable outcomes, but Fish Tank is one of those films that is so well-handled that everything just falls into place beautifully. I watched this with a few others who disagreed, but I felt that writer/director Andrea Arnold managed to make choices that sound cliched and cheesy on paper work perfectly on screen. The drama never builds to unrealistic levels either, keeping things subtle but quietly moving. It's also very nicely shot (in 4:3 strangely enough) rather than just going for the drab, lifelessly grey effect that many films of this ilk opt for.

One of the main reasons the film works, other than the superb direction, are some of the performances. Lead actress Katie Jarvis is a revelation, always fascinating to watch and not always entirely likeable, creating a believably flawed central character. Michael Fassbender plays Connor as a charming rogue with a simmering sense of doubt over his intentions for Mia. The role isn't as showy as his awesome turn in Hunger, but he does an excellent job of balancing role model and sleaze-bag. The scenes between him and Jarvis crackle with intensity and form some of the film's strongest moments.

I wasn't a big fan of all the characters though. I felt the mother was very one-dimensional and the sister, although occasionally funny, tended to get on my nerves in the wrong way and I felt the performance was too forced in an otherwise subtle film. Also, the predictability of much of it occasionally bothered me and a scene at the end of the film verged on being cheesy due to some overly blunt lyrics in the soundtrack. Saying that I still found that moment curiously moving even though it was a little contrived.

Fish Tank is a film that will not be to everyone's tastes, it has shortcomings but mostly it overcomes these with some tremendously assured direction and fine performances. It's a film that keeps things small and low key but is always engrossing and genuinely touching.

8/10
Posted by dave_or_did at 11:52
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Jan 09, 2010 12:27 am

http://theplaylist.blogspot.com/2010/01/new-trailer-for-andrea-arnolds-fish.html

1/08/2010
New Trailer For Andrea Arnold's 'Fish Tank'

A new trailer for Andrea Arnold's Cannes Jury Prize winning coming-of-age tale "Fish Tank" has found it's way online.

Featuring an electric performance by first timer Katie Jarvis, who was reportedly discovered by a talent scout yelling at a boyfriend across the platform at a train station, the film centers on the violent, foul-mouthed, world-hating but altogether oddly magnetic and sympathetic Mia (Jarvis) whose dysfunctional life is turned upside by the arrival of her mother's boyfriend, Connor, played by one of 2009's biggest success stories Michael Fassbender.

The film premiered at Cannes last year and has worked its way through the global festival circuit with critical acclaim. In fact, it's still on the road featuring at the Palm Springs Film Festival running at the moment.

IFC Films will be releasing "Fish Tank" theatrically on January 15th and On Demand from January 13th.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sat Jan 09, 2010 4:34 am

http://marceyness.blogspot.com/2010/01/fish-tank.html

Friday, January 8, 2010
Fish Tank


4.5/5

I went into this film not knowing anything about it, just that it was British and it featured Michael Fassbender, I had not even seen a trailer but I had seen some good ratings around the forums I frequent so I thought I would give it a shot. I am sure glad I did, I really thought this was an excellent film.

What is Fish Tank about? What do you think of when you hear the words fish tank? Small environment, trapped maybe? Well that really does sum up the film, our main character is Mia (Katie Jarvis), she is a 15 year old who dreams of becoming a dancer. She is being raised by her alcoholic single mother. Things change when her mother gets a new boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender).

From the start of the film you see Mia shouting and being abusive as she walks around the local neighbourhood. It is obvious she does not really have any friends, and her abusive behaviour easily stems from her mother. Her younger sister shows the same traits and the mother does not seem to care. These early scenes are shot so well, there is a strange beauty to them, and you just can't take your eyes away. Our lead Mia played by new comer Katie Jarvis is nearly flawless in this film. She becomes her character, and she feels awfully real and true to the story being told. This girl wants an escape, she craves a father figure and she craves love and attention.

The relationship we see form between Connor and Mia seems rather harmless at first but you can feel the sexual tension between them both and the feeling that it will lead where you don't want it to sets in. Despite the way she acts, I really wanted Mia to get away from her environment and have a better life. I am not sure if anyone else who saw this felt that way for her, but I really did. I almost felt as trapped as she did at times, especially in certain scenes. There are times where you will feel uncomfortable, but it works too. As I mentioned this film feels very real, and the way it was shot really adds to that feel, it almost feels like sad poem.

As I mentioned Katie Jarvis gives a great performance and Michael Fassbender does as well. There is a certain charm about him but also something strange with Connor, there is always that uncertainty about what his motives might be. Fassbender plays it all so well, I just want to see more of him. The direction by Andrea Arnold is just done so beautifully and truthfully, she has painted a picture of something real and something sad. Definitely one of the best films I got to see in 2009 and I would highly recommend this.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sun Jan 10, 2010 2:27 am

http://www.dn.se/kultur-noje/filmrecensioner/fish-tank-1.1023297

Andrea Arnold's new social drama is as tough as heartbreaking. Teen Debutantes Mia Jarvis is sensational as a little sister to the English Lisbeth Salander.

British director Andrea Arnold loves it more ugly than beautiful. She loves the sore, the navigator, the odd, the otrendiga. She has a special eye for the junk city streets, abandoned vacant lots and concrete suburbs that God forgot, and only the social services - at best - remember.

Her worlds are a bit like Michael Haneke. Not really bad maybe, but devoid of most of what is spelled tolerance, respect, compassion and solidarity. She's Ken Loach and the other British social realist sense of the class issue. But what makes Andrea Arnold unique and quite outstanding at the moment is the energy of the fulsnygga image narrative, the sense of creating poetic moments in the most unexpected moments, the attack of the acting and the sharp eye of eroticism as a driver.

Her "Red Road" came down like a tranquil detonating bombs in the film world for a few years ago: a tragedy of grief work and obsession in the form thriller set in an exceptionally dirty Glasgow. A chamber play in public places where the omnipresent surveillance cameras played a key role. A so terribly well-onset tends to be a paralyzing nightmare for any other time directors. But Arnold lives up to expectations. By a wide margin.

In his new movie "Fish Tank" is Arnold thematically partially back in his breakthrough film, the hour-long "Wasp" which earned her an Oscar 2005th It revolves around a much too young, single four barnsmamma that draws around with their infant band, is courted by an old, thick and leaves the kids alone outside a pub. The title refers to a wasp in an unguarded moment creeps into the baby's mouth. Already in the movie, she cultivated her own dramaturgical hallmark dealing with the underlying threat and dramatic, full oförutsäga turning points.

In the heart of the 'Fish Tank' is 15 year old Mia expelled by the school, a pure force of nature in straggly hair, soft clothes, nylon backpack and endless stream of profanity in his mouth. A ragged, dirty work girl who just seems somewhat at peace when she breaks into an empty apartment and practice streetdance.

Mia is a British Lisbeth Salander from Essex who are not taking any crap, that may not directly FIGHT for her life but for his dignity. And a fragile dream of another life. At home there is another central figure, Mia's single mother, who still suffer from the teen's lack of impulse control and inability to empathy.

Only when the mother comes home with a new guy, security guard Connor, stop mother and daughter for a while shouting to each other. Connor with his gentle eyes, his irresistible smajl and its unexpectedly generous commitment gives Mia a glimpse of another life.

A family.

A fishing trip in which both she and little sister come with the child in her case. But Connors charisma raises other, more adult emotions to life. Fatal feelings.

Intimidation, insecurity, the sharp scent of pure disaster is ever present in the "Fish Tank". Staying alert, dare not relax for one second. It is quite demanding but also rewarding. Not for a moment, you can predict what will happen and what direction the story should go.

The visual style with handheld camera that moves nervously and desperately in the confined indoor environments makes her the order that you should know Mia's claustrophobia in a world where there seems to be either hope or harmony.

Even outdoors, there seems to be no free surfaces. Mia drawn repeatedly to the outskirts of high-rise area where some homeless men is a sick horse in jail. She wants to liberate it, but even there, under the big sky, she can really escape the threat.

Film onset Katie Jarvis, who never acted before, owns "Fish Tank" from first frame to last in the role of Mia. The more experienced Michael Fassbender, cruelly played in the political "Hunger" and skräckisen "Eden Lake", has just boldly on slippery intensity required for the entry of either Jarvis unskilled primordial force. But even Kierston Wareing, who previously appeared in Ken Loach "It's a Free World" does a horse job in the role of blond teenage mom from hell with truta silicone lips and dirty bathrobe.

The hardness of this whole story is heartbreaking, as is Arnold's affection for the characters she created, but fortunately never quite leave behind. "Fish Tank" is heavy, in all senses. And it is meant as highest praise. But at the same time, paradoxically, the world's energy boost.

Helena Lindblad helena.lindblad @ dn.se
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sun Jan 10, 2010 4:47 pm

http://cowberryfilmflam.blogspot.com/2010/01/palm-springs-international-film.html

Fish Tank

Andrea Arnold’s second feature, after the well-received CCTV downer Red Road, is so determined to pay homage to the bleak tradition of unflinchingly dower kitchen-sink downers that have long met programming requirements for British TV, that she and DOP Robbie Ryan have shot this BBC and Film Council-funded bleak house in blocky and boxy 1.33/1 ratio w/ a surprisingly good eye for television-scale compositions. The camera spends a lot of time tracking after determined fifteen-year-old aspiring hip hop dancer protagonist Mia (the very credible newcomer Katie Jarvis overplaying her hardened insouciance because that’s what her character would do as a means of survival and emotional defense) in a way that suggests the influence of Alan Clarke’s steadicam urban roadmappings (see the original Elephant (’89) and the appropriately named Road (’87) especially), also shot in the 1.33/1 ratio (though they, unlike Fish Tank, debuted on television and were not intended to be shown on theatrical screens). More than the television work of Clarke, though, which tends to be smooth and ascending, the documentary kineticism of these tracks – often from behind, yo-yoing over-the-shoulder, or in profiles that slap the vigilantly restless protagonist against the skuzzy urban gridwork like something trying to escape a spider’s web – makes them resemble those that show up repeatedly in the contemporary films of the Belgian Dardenne brothers, whose Rosetta (’99) clearly informs Fish Tank in ways that are not always flattering to Arnold’s film, the inherent poetry of which is more forced and less delicate/immanent than that of Rosetta. Compared to the slew of films over the years that have focused on down-but-not-out lives in the miserable confines of English council estates, however, Fish Tank stands up as a powerful and first rate offering, rhythmically and visually alert, as well as showcasing a natural ability to glean crystalline moments from its ugly Essex w/ its emptied out wastelands concealing a beauty that the film repeatedly ferrets out when least expected to. These films always walk a tightrope between proffering condescending portraits of their vulgar, stupid, and reflexively violent working class characters on the one hand, or demonstrating how social imbalances and organizational institutionalization of class structures creates the conditions in which individuals are stripped of the privilege of being able to make moral decisions or the option to treat others w/ anything like the respect w/ which they themselves would like to be treated on the other. I very much like how in Fish Tank a lexicon of grievance, anger, and contempt persists even when the characters are trying to express love and understanding for one another. Mia will repeatedly lash out w/ vitriol at her mother and sister, and especially at her mother’s boyfriend Conor (Michael Fassbender, who is way too much of a hunk to ever quite fit in here, and whose character is so anachronistically sensible he even backs into parking spots), for whom she progressively develops confusing sexual feelings, at exactly the moment that feelings of love-or-something-like-it are excited. When Mia leaves the family nest at the end of the film, having f&%$#& Conor, who then retreats from their lives and the pursuit of whom reveals more secrets, lies and painful self-realizations, her little sister sobbingly tells her that she f#%@#&! hates her only to embrace her in a hug. Her beautiful drunk mom tells her to f&#! off already whilst dancing to Mia’s Nas CD, only to then join her two daughters in a sad and touching cavort to the same music, in which they mirror one another’s swaying movements and try to conceal smiles. Ultimately the film becomes about how facades of toughness and coolness, conditioned by measly living environments and legacies of hurt and abandonment, become entwined w/ how love and devotion become simultaneously expressed and repressed. It is about how sad it is that some people only know how to express love through cruelty because cruelty and fear define their world from the ground up through no fault of their own. Fish Tank is ultimately as compassionate and cruel, or rather compassionate-cruel, as its characters. Fish Tank is a sh*#&% name for this film, however, and not one that helps it look like it has found a way around the problem of positioning its characters condescendingly. Do they really need to be compared to helpless fish?

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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sun Jan 10, 2010 5:50 pm

http://hernamewasboxcar.blogspot.com/2009/10/tiff-09-fish-tank.html

Tuesday, October 13, 2009
TIFF 09 - Fish Tank
Fish Tank 2009
Country - United Kingdom
Directed and Written by Andrea Arnold

My TIFF 09 season kicked off in high style with one of my must see films. Having been a huge fan of Arnold’s first film Red Road, i highly anticipated Fish Tank as soon as i saw it in my programme.

Simply Fish Tank is a compelling story about a self-violent teenage girl who fights her desires for her mother’s new boyfriend.

Fifteen-year-old Mia (Katie Jarvis) is a wannabe dancer who spends her time practicing in an abandoned flat while drinking litres of bottled cider. When out in the “real” world her life is concerned with stealing money, and arguing with just about anyone who crosses her path. Within the first five minutes she headbutts a fellow girl i the face because she gave her some lip.

Katie Jarvis is the star of Fish Tank. As an untrained actress (discovered on a London platform arguing across two track lanes with her ex-boyfriend), she is a revelation. She holds her own against the well trained Michael Fassbinder (playing Mia’s mum new boyfriend, Connor). The scenes they share are wrought with tension and potential danger. Connor encourages Mia to apply for a dance audition and, although he’s far from the ideal role model (lending her cash for booze), he seems to be one of the only people in her life with whom she can connect.

This is a portrait of a realistically dysfunctional family living in a council estate in London, that pulls no punches.The ending goes is unexpected and takes you places that are incredibly intense. Scary to watch and spellbinding you are left spinning wondering how can this end with any glimpse of hope.

Highly recommended this was a great way to start the film festival and a tough film to top.

Posted by boxcar at 6:05 PM
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sun Jan 10, 2010 5:52 pm

http://www.soundonsight.org/review-fish-tank/

Fish Tank

Posted by John on Oct 13th, 2009 and filed under Film Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Directed by Andrea Arnold

The UK has a proud tradition of social realist cinema, pioneered by the so-called British New Wave in the mid-1960’s and the grimly dour, class conscious debuts of Karel Reisz, Tony Richardson and Lindsay Anderson. Although the contemporary British film industry primarily serves as an adjunct to the Hollywood blockbuster machine, keeping their immensely skilled technicians and RADA-trained actors with roofs over their heads with the likes of the Bond and Potter franchises, occasionally a small, modestly ambitious UK film manages to get local funding and connects with a domestic audience. Last year it was Shifty, a lean, compact tale of 24 hours in the life of a London crack dealer which echoed the work of both Alan Clarke and Ken Loach, and once again this year mockney gun-play, racially neutered middle class rom-coms and elegant yet tedious 19th century period drama did not entirely dominate the indigenous screen output thanks to Fish Tank, a slice of contemporary working class English life, a bleak yet poetic tale set amongst the tabloid baiting hoodies and chavs which explores the limited chances this maligned underclass have to escape their poverty-stricken cages.

Set in the grim council estates of Essex on the outskirts of northeast London, Fish Tank is the story of Mia, an alienated yet feisty 15-year-old whose life is utterly devoid of love or affection.. Her young, emotionally abusive mother (Angie from Ken Loach’s overlooked It’s A Free World…) drinks and habitually ignores the needs of both Mia and her younger sister Sophie. Mia harbors a secret passion to be a dancer – one she hesitantly, secretly practices in an abandoned flat in one of the squalid high-rise blocks that neighbors her home. Just as news of her imminent placement in a borstal-type facility arrives, Mia’s mother brings home her new boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbinder), who subsequently encourages and befriends Mia, the only glimpse of consideration in her desolate existence.

Andrea Arnold’s 2006 debut Red Road impressed critics with its vivacious, CCTV mediated portrayal of Glasgow, and like Fish Tank it also had a woman as a central character, which makes a refreshing change when judging by recent trends a central protagonist with ovaries is either a) trying to get married b) used to be in Friends or c) is trying to get married and used to be in Friends. Arnold captures the liveliness and desolation of the impoverished communities with an acute beauty, simultaneously portraying a dreary world which is nevertheless occasionally punctuated with grim laughter, a uniquely British blitz spirit type of humor in the face of despair. Newcomer Katie Jarvis, who plays Mia, is thoroughly believable and sympathetic despite her understandable failings and aggressive temperament. Apparently Arnold spotted her at a train station arguing with her boyfriend and cast her on the spot – she had never acted before.

After the triumph of Hunger and a move toward the international stage in Inglourious Basterds, Michael Fassbinder is developing into a consistently astonishing talent, seemingly effortlessly turning in solid, robust performances. What he manages is that most elusive of skills, you don’t notice him acting, he just ‘is.’ You’re never quite sure if he has any ulterior motive in his relationship with Mia and her mother, in fact you’re not sure if there is any motive at all – a testament to the naturalism and skill of his achievement. Special kudos also goes to Rebecca Griffiths as Mia’s younger sister – she is absolutely hilarious and has one line ( ‘I like you. I’ll kill you last’) which in context is funnier than the last dozen or so called ‘comedies’ that have slithered out from British shores. Whilst not exactly treading new ground – it’s less politically inclined than Ken Loach or theatrically mannered than Mike Leigh – the film operates in a realm well-trod in UK cinema and serves as a welcome antidote to the adrenaline-fueled demands of the summer season. Having won kudos at both the Cannes and Edinburgh International film festival, Fish Tank deserves as wide an international audience as possible, if only to remind viewers that we’re not just a nation of tea-swilling, stammering buffoons and second-tier, post-colonial action movie villains.

John Mcentee
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sun Jan 10, 2010 5:55 pm

http://filmwipe365.wordpress.com/2009/10/05/fish-tank/

Fish Tank
By stuart78969

Tonight we continue our decent into European cinema with the latest British hit Fish Tank. The film is an exploration of life in inner city Britain and reflects the degredation of some aspects of British society. It is worth noting that the film has been universally critically acclaimed and won the jury prize at the cannes film festival. So if your interested in European, art house or good film then enjoy. If not it is probably worth going back and reading the review of the Hangover or alternatively turn off the computer turn on your tv and watch Crazytown on repeat. As this is what you deserve.

The film follows Mia (Katie Jarvis) as she ventures around her depressing existence on a housing estate in North London. After run ins with a group of local teenagers (one of whom she headbuts), a group of travellers (who are mistreating a horse by a motorway fly over) and her mother(Kierston Wareing), Mia eventually finds her life turned upside down after her mother brings home Irish charmer Conor (Micheal Fassbinder). As her mothers relationship develops with Conor so do her feelings for him. They are drawn closer together until one night irretrievably changes their relationship. This leads to Mia’s life crumbling down around her and leads to an incidence which has the potential to destrooys everyones lives.

The film is incredibly sad, this may sound a rather silly comment however Mia is a character you both love and hate. In one sense you feel for her plight and sympathise with her love of animal, in the other you see a street thug who is an alcoholic and acts without any restraint. Her behaviour is so appalling at times that you find it hard to reconcile yourself with what she does. However you can see how limited her life is. At one point in the film she has three possible routes for her life to go. Due to her limited options caused by her upbringing and surroundings all of these routes either temporarily or permanently collapse.

The hardest things about the film is that you know exactly where it is going to go at each revelation. Director Andrea Arnold drags out the gaps between revelation and the conseqeunce to such excruciating lengths you feel like Charlotte Gainsbourg when she has her trousers down and a pair of scissor in her hands in Von Triers uplifiting Antichrist. The film is definately one that warrants more than one viewing. As this distance becomes less and less painful.

Michael Fassbinder undoubtedly steals the show as the charming yet phony Conor. He wonderfully plays between charming and menacing. Conor is so charming and offers Mia and her sister a life that they have never seen with their selfish mother, you can instantly see why everyone falls for him. When the film reveals the truth about him, you feel desperately sorry for Mia, his lies of stollen the only positive thing in her life. The reason why deserves Fassbinder deserves the plaudits is that he skillfully hints at his secret all the way through. His subtle performance makes the film tick and is the inspiration for most of the highs and lows.

Andrea Arnold uses the recent success of Shane Meadows work as the basis for the style of film, with This is England and A Room for Romeo Brass being significant features in the films DNA. Strangely the mis en scene draws upon another British film The Damned United. While the film is distinctive from both it still has qualities that are synonymous with contemporary British cinema. Andrea Arnold deserves the plaudits she is gaining at the moment and will hopefully will have a career comparable to her contemporaries.

Overall – This is a superb film which hilgihts a great deal of waht wrong with British society. If you’re a member of the BNP or thing Britain is faultless then avoid at all costs. However, if not then this is a film to savour.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sun Jan 10, 2010 6:00 pm

http://www.zettelfilmreviews.co.uk/2009/09/essex-girl-struggles-to-make-good/

Essex girl struggles to make good
Posted on September 25th, 2009 by Zettel Film Reviewer
The life and times of an Essex girl

The life and times of an Essex girl

Fish Tank - Andrea Arnold

I’m bemused, bewildered and to be honest, bloody angry. What is the widespread acclaim and exaggerated praise for this movie all about? OK, I’m sorry that feisty, attractive 15 year-old Mia’s mother is a dysfunctional, feckless waste of space. I understand that makes Mia conflicted and angry enough to pick a fight and without any physical provocation break the nose of the leader of an equally unlovely bunch of teenage girls on the grounds that their futile aspiration to be dancers is even more detached from reality than is her own. Just. I just don’t buy into the idea that shouting ‘f***’ and ‘f***ing’ a lot and calling anyone she’s pissed off with including her pre-pubescent sister a c***, is incontrovertible proof of either feistiness or hidden strength of character.

When for the love of God or whatever you hold most dear, is someone going to find something interesting, dramatic or worthwhile about the lives of all the non-dysfunctional decent, genuinely strong individuals and families on council estates struggling to bring up kids and pay bills other than for the TV or the booze and fags? I can’t believe I’m saying this because I know what it makes me sound like. But it is true. This film for me almost whinges off the screen. It constantly begs us to blame everything wrong with Mia’s life on her environment, her mum, her mum’s boyfriend, by implication the school, the social worker or some irresistible deterministic combination of them all. Her only response to her mum’s inadequacy is take it out on everyone else, shout and swear a lot and petulantly reject any and very effort to help her other than to indulge her unjustified X-Factor belief that she can dance. In the real world, any 15 year-old girl with the looks, the courage and the strength of character that the superb Katie Jarvis’s performance suggests Mia possesses would have gratefully grabbed the help offered by a dedicated teacher, a committed social worker, or simply a concerned adult and got a grip on what she needed to do to escape repeating her mother’s passively self-defeating personal path to self-pitying misery. Mia’s ‘triumph’ over the shittiness of her life is to bugger off on spec to Wales with a likeable but rootless bloke because he “has a mate there.”

I was raised on a council estate albeit a rural not an urban one: and at a time when journalists - print and broadcast - were not permanently camped out ready to provide the pictures and ‘stories’ to reinforce the preconceived attitudes of their editors at the Sun or the Mail or even the occasional Panorama special. Every community of people has their ‘problem’ families, council estates perhaps more than most, but the idea that the people who shout loudest, behave worst, demand the most attention, are either representative of those communities, or worse, the only ones whose stories are worth telling, is self-serving sentimental claptrap. It is also a deep abiding injustice and insult to the genuine, honest, hard-working majority whose contempt for the loud-mouthed, anti-social minority is equal to that they have for the slumming journalists and film-makers who propagate this lie because it flogs papers to people who want their unexamined prejudices massaged; or puts privileged bums on film festival seats and permits smart-arsed critics or self-obsessed grungily dressed actors to dip into a bit of vicarious street cred. Yo man. Innit?

And please don’t talk to me about Ken Loach or Mike Leigh: there is more warmth, more respect, more understanding, more love in 5 minutes of Looking For Eric, Kes or Vera Drake, than in the whole overblown 123 minutes of Fish Tank. Just as Loach’s lovely little Cantona film says more about the ordinary working man’s love of football than all the exploitative hooligan movies put together.

Yes, technically Fish Tank is accomplished: well shot and edited; cinematographer Robbie Ryan wringing at times a bleak, edgy kind of beauty out of the unpromising Essex urban and suburban fringe landscapes; and Arnold’s direction keeps us up close and personal with Mia. But it isn’t enough: it really isn’t. We know exactly what mum’s boyfriend is going to do long before he does it; and the film invites us to accept it as just what you’d expect; just one of those things. Mia’s revenge is as with almost everything else the script makes her do; petulant, stupid, cruel and utterly pointless. And one scene in her seducer’s middle class family home is I’m sure supposed to be shocking but is in reality just gratuitous. If Jarvis was persuaded to do it for real – because “the scene requires it” that’s pretty close to exploitation – it isn’t necessary and it doesn’t work. The paradoxical void at the heart of this frankly vacuous movie is that Director Arnold cannot or will not let her narrative give us the strong, feisty, courageous young woman Katie Jarvis is so effectively portraying. Victimhood plays. Michael Fassbinder is in the same boat: another good actor whose performance outstrips what Arnold makes his character of Connor, first mum’s lover then Mia’s seducer, actually do.

I won’t summarise the plot: frankly as soon as the tone and the characters are set up – you could write it yourself. Fish Tank is a depressing movie: not because it portrays depressing events but because it exploits a one-dimensional, shallow, clichéd perspective on working class behaviour to create a phoney kind of gritty ‘realism’. I’ve seen documentaries and fictional films about poor, underprivileged people all around the world including recently the excellent Frozen River. Sadly and infuriatingly, with the honourable exception of Leigh and Loach especially, what often defines the British movie on these themes, set in these contexts, is the underlying tone and passive acceptance of victimhood as an emotional hook and dramatic driver. This makes poor British people struggling with adverse social conditions seem weak, put upon and lacking in any kind of constructive rebelliousness, proud defiance. In a word - dignity. And I don’t think that’s true – for a second. And no of course I’m not taking the facile Daily Mail editorial tone, that because one or two make it, everyone can. Anti-social, self-hating gestures of destructive defiance may make good copy and ‘gritty’ movies: but they don’t match up against the truthful portrayal of the inspirational determination of struggling people in other cultures, just to survive and maintain decent standards of behaviour and respect for one another within their poor communities. I think Fish Tank takes a grain of truth and turns it into a massive, destructive, perhaps even unwitting, lie. And the kind of people it purports to portray really do deserve better.

Save your money: and if you haven’t seen it, go and see Looking for Eric instead. Even if you can’t stand football – it really doesn’t matter. One bright spot: Katie Jarvis is a real find. She just needs a film worthy of her talent.

Filed under: 2 star, Andrea Arnold, Drama, General
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sun Jan 10, 2010 6:27 pm

http://www.moviemartyr.com/blog/?p=685

Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold)

Andrea Arnold mines plenty of tension out of a slim scenario in her realistic British drama Fish Tank. Although there’s not much of a narrative here, there’s little included that feels arbitrary. Centering on a fifteen year old girl who is alienated from everything and everyone except her passion for urban dance, the movie is too fiercely conceived to fall in the coming-of-age genre’s usual batch of clichés. Arnold, in emphasizing suspense and sexual tension, captures the notion that the trajectory of the young protagonist’s life rests on a razor’s edge, wholly dependent on a series of major, momentary decisions that she’s ill-equipped to make. It’s a story that’s constantly threatening to come unhinged, creating moments of unease out of small events (such as a close-up on a wounded ankle) and potentially catastrophic ones (best not to mention those…). The movie, which is quite similar to Arnold’s Oscar-winning short film Wasp in both style and tone, benefits greatly from ace performances from newcomer Katie Jarvis and British acting wonder Michael Fassbinder.

Rating: 63/100
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Sun Jan 10, 2010 6:46 pm

http://www.colesmithey.com/capsules/2010/01/fish-tank.html

Fish Tank

Fish Tank With her second film, Andrea Arnold shows a depth of understanding in the story of a suburban teenaged British girl seduced by her mother's lover. Tough-girl Mia (well played by Katie Jarvis) lives in an Essex estate housing project with her indiscriminate mother Joanne (Kierston Wareing), and sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths). Mia exclusively wears sweats and a hoody. She dances hip-hop alone in an empty estate living room with a balcony on the industrial wasteland around her. Mia uses dance as a personal way to ground her identity even if her rapidly changing body is clumsier than she imagines. Trouble comes in the form of her mom's new harmless-seeming boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender) who sizes up Mia with sharp-shooter accuracy. Andrea Arnold's film touches on ideas of liberation, romance, coming-of-age, and familial cause-and-effect. As a filmmaker, Arnold is able to strip away artifice from her material by allowing her actors' behavior to take center-stage. There is a verite quality in the way cinematographer Robbie Ryan frames compositions at seemingly impromptu angles, using natural light. Uncommonly naturalistic performances by its ensemble add to the film's kinship to British neo-realist directors such as Mike Leigh or Ken Loach. As an example of modern British social satire, "Fish Tank" is a stellar addition.

Unrated. 122 mins. (A-) (Four Stars - out-of-five/no-halves)
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Mon Jan 11, 2010 12:49 am

http://felicelog.blogspot.com/2010/01/top-ten-favorite-agatha-christie-movies.html

No Happiness Please, We’re British
Fish Tank’s working-class lass never turns into a plucky cliché. Plus: Michael Cera, sex machine?

* By David Edelstein
* Published Jan 10, 2010

The young British actress Kate Jarvis is in nearly every shot of Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank, and her wide face, soft eyes, and flickering mixture of longing and potty-mouthed defiance draw you in and keep you guessing over what she’ll do next. As Mia, a 15-year-old who lives with her nasty little sister and self-centered single mother in a housing project, she’s high-strung and endlessly reactive, with a slightly feral quality. Early on, Mia hunts down a pal who dropped her, then promptly head-butts a girl who calls her skanky and breaks her nose. As she stomps away, you can feel her insides churn over her loss of control, and Arnold’s handheld camera is both on her and with her, the emotion in every jitter and swerve. Alone in a vacant apartment, Mia practices hip-hop to her portable CD player and tiny speakers, then gazes through the window at the world outside. Her 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 and what she’s up against. It’s her energy, her attack that convinces you she won’t go down without a fight.

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. Michael Fassbender plays her mom’s handsome new boyfriend, Connor, who encourages Mia’s dancing and gazes on her with sympathy and affection. Also with sexual hunger: When Mia pretends to be asleep, Connor carries her to her bed, and Arnold slows down and eroticizes the moment. When he leaves and her eyes open, you see she’s more aroused than he is. Fassbender’s Connor is never as nakedly manipulative as Peter Sarsgaard’s predatory Jew in the overrated An Education. When Connor yields to temptation, his first reaction is shame and fear; he sees the bottom fall out of his life.

Near the end, Mia is overcome with hate and on impulse does something shocking, nearly unforgivable. The sequence goes just to the verge of tragedy, but Arnold is too compassionate to deliver the ultimate blow. 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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Review: `Fish Tank' is social realism at its best

Post by Admin on Mon Jan 11, 2010 7:26 pm

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100111/ap_en_re/us_film_review_fish_tank_2

By DAVID GERMAIN, AP Movie Writer David Germain, Ap Movie Writer – 1 hr 41 mins ago

A bit of guilt comes with watching the British teen drama "Fish Tank."

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

Putting real life uncomfortably under the lens seems a specialty for Arnold, an Academy Award winner for her 2004 short film "Wasp," who now makes her follow up feature film after an impressive debut on 2006's "Red Road," a thriller with a heavy voyeur component itself.

Both of Arnold's feature films won the jury prize, the third-place award, at the Cannes Film Festival. "Fish Tank" is a big step forward, though, a small wonder of social realism that is riveting and harrowing, yet in the end, enormously satisfying.

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.

The filmmakers say they approached Jarvis after seeing her arguing with her boyfriend on a train platform. Whatever volatility Jarvis displayed in that encounter was channeled, and then some, for her role as 15-year-old Mia, a youth in trouble on all fronts, at home, at school, among the circle of ex-friends that has cast her out as an angry freak.

A teen with dancing aspirations, Mia practices her moves alone in a vacant apartment in the creaky, crumbling housing projects of Essex, east of London. She wanders the deteriorating old industrial town, picking fights with just about anyone she meets, occasionally turning up at the apartment where she lives and bickers with her single mom (Kierston Wareing) and younger sister (Rebecca Griffiths).

Mom's new boyfriend, Connor (Michael Fassbender, most recently seen as a British film critic turned spy in "Inglourious Basterds"), becomes both someone new to confront and an intriguing mix of father figure and dream suitor to Mia.

"Fish Tank" is hardly an action film, but the drama unfolds like a train wreck waiting to happen, Arnold taking her characters to the brink and beyond as Mia and Connor test the bounds of appropriate behavior involving a teen no longer a girl, not yet a woman.

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.

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

Arnold reunites with "Red Road" cinematographer Robbie Ryan, whose stark, unadorned images heighten the film's naturalism.

The title is appropriate. Arnold's characters are not fish gasping for breath on a creek bank, an image right out of the film. But they do come off as authentic and unaffected, as true to their nature as fish under glass.

"Fish Tank," an IRC Films release, is unrated but contains scenes of sexuality, sex involving a minor and teen drinking and smoking. Running time: 122 minutes. Three and a half stars out of four.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:30 pm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marshall-fine/movie-review-ifish-tanki_b_418254.html

http://hollywoodandfine.com/reviews/?p=1869

January 11, 2010
‘Fish Tank’: Life’s chum

I recently overheard a fellow critic comparing Andrea Arnold’s “Fish Tank” to Kelly Reichardt’s “Wendy and Lucy” – and had to demur, because “Fish Tank” is actually a movie with a plot and emotional resonance.

Seeing “Fish Tank” (which opens in limited release Friday 1/15/10) and then watching a couple of upcoming Sundance films that are as aimless and thin as “Wendy and Lucy” may inspire me to write a future commentary about why people make movies about directionless lives on a downward spiral – what is it that makes them think that anyone wants to watch stories about clueless, helpless people with no future and no hope?

Yet “Fish Tank” overcomes that, thanks to the immediacy of Arnold’s filmmaking and the jittery vitality of the central performance by a young actress named Katie Jarvis.

Jarvis plays Mia, a 15-year-old British teen who essentially lives a life unsupervised by her party-girl mother (Kierston Wareing), whose only mothering consists of snarling at Mia and her younger sister, Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths), a foul-mouthed moppet.

Mia has few friends and tries to spend as little time as possible in the housing-project apartment where her family lives. Instead, she hangs out in an abandoned apartment, where she practices to be a hip-hop dancer, though her former friends (who practice hip-hop routines together) now treat her as an outcast.

The events of “Fish Tank” are minimal in some ways, huge in others. As Mia wanders the industrial landscape of her neighborhood, she spots a horse tied up in a junkyard and makes repeated attempts to set it free. Eventually, she is befriended by one of the teen-age boys who live in a trailer at the junkyard, a relationship that seems to hold some promise.

At home, she also seems to find a friend: Connor (Michael Fassbender), her mother’s new boyfriend. Where her mother treats Mia as an unwanted obligation, Connor seems actually to see her as a person, someone who might have thoughts and even dreams of her own.

But even as he moves in with the family, it eventually becomes clear that Connor has secrets of his own. He also is weak enough to let his relationship with Mia – more big brother than dad – turn dangerously flirtatious.

I guess I’m too firm a believer in plot (if not action) to embrace a film like “Wendy and Lucy” or Reichardt’s “Old Joy” or last year’s vastly overrated “Goodbye Solo.” While the story of “Fish Tank” is sketchy, it’s still a story – about a character going through changes, dealing with conflict, finding some form of resolution – instead of just struggling along and letting life happen. Life is not a movie; movies about life need something more than a string of events to be a film.

Arnold’s film is about the vulnerability of youth – even a youth as tough and street-hardened as Mia. It’s not because she’s a female but because she’s young and inexperienced, her only reference points being her own life and that of her mother, as well as the media she consumes. She still has no sense of just how complex – and, in some ways, how simple – life can be.

The title refers, it would seem, to Mia’s world, which she tries to escape at one point by answering an ad for dancers – hoping this will be her break in show-biz by giving her a shot at actually working in a hip-hop crew. Arnold’s point is that, to the fish, the tank appears to be the entire world.

Mia thinks she’s escaping at the end of “Fish Tank” – but she’s just changing tanks. That’s what makes this drama so heart-breaking.
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Wed Jan 13, 2010 2:14 am

http://www.salon.com/entertainment/movies/fish_tank/?story=/ent/movies/andrew_ohehir/2010/01/12/fish_tank

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 20:20 ES
Teenage Katie Jarvis and Michael Fassbender burn up the screen in this devastating suburban coming-of-age fable
By Andrew O'Hehir
Katie Jarvis and Michael Fassbender in "Fish Tank."

Here's what interests the supremely talented British director Andrea Arnold: ordinary people's lives, poised between transformation and despair; the dire landscapes of sub-middle-class contemporary existence; dirty, dangerous and exceptionally hot sex. Given all that, it might seem surprising that Arnold has virtually no profile in the United States: Her debut feature, the terrific Glasgow-set erotic thriller "Red Road," came and went briskly in 2007, and her new "Fish Tank," which may be even better and has piled up various British and European awards, is likely to go almost unnoticed amid the blizzard of imports on the IFC Films slate.

I'm telling you here and now to seek out "Fish Tank," either at a big-city theater or via VOD, because it's absolute dynamite. As cheesy as this is, you could say it combines the best elements of "Precious" and "An Education," and not be cheating. It's an explosive female coming-of-age story set against a dreary backdrop of poverty, abuse and neglect -- in this case the grim suburban housing developments on the working-class outer fringes of London (the title refers to a certain blocky style of glass-fronted apartment) -- with an astonishing breakout lead performance from Katie Jarvis, its teenage star. But while those two films, each of them admirable in its way, are legitimate Oscar contenders, "Fish Tank" is more likely to be a furrin-cinema footnote, too confrontational, too hardass and too implacably British -- in the gritty, contemporary, non-period sense -- for Yank art-house customers.

Perhaps more to the point, Arnold's combination of dense London-dialect slang and hand-held camerawork, along with her steadfast refusal to sentimentalize her characters or deliver an easily digestible moral or message, makes "Fish Tank" a steep mountain to climb for many viewers. But that stuff is also exactly what makes it so great. Fifteen-year-old Mia (Jarvis) is indeed a misunderstood loner, derided by her slutty boozehound mom (another tremendous performance, from Kierston Wareing) and pursued by well-meaning but moronic social workers, who dreams of stardom as a hip-hop dancer. She's also a bottomless fount of poorly managed rage and emotion, a skinny wraith clad in track suits, too much bling, bad makeup and what my mother once called (in reference to a teenage girlfriend) "that stepped-on look."

Furthermore, when Mia gets a look at Connor (Michael Fassbender), the genial, muscular Irish dude her mum has dragged home from somewhere -- well, let's just say that in her two features so far Arnold has breathed new life into those feminist film theories about the "female gaze." Arnold has an ecumenical appreciation for both male and female hotness, to be sure -- we see plenty of the curvaceous Wareing in her Frederick's of Hollywood-knockoff underthings -- but she provides Mia, and us, with a hugely lascivious serving of the impressively shirtless Fassbender, jeans barely hanging off his ass, as Connor sleepily makes tea in the kitchen.

As for the Irish-German Fassbender, previously known for playing Bobby Sands in Steve McQueen's "Hunger," he's both a fine actor and a major star waiting to happen. This movie presumably won't get him there, but this guy is going to cause spontaneous combustion among numerous women, and no doubt quite a few men too. His Connor is simultaneously a likable character and a borderline-sinister one, which is a difficult combo to pull off. His avuncular interest in Mia is genuine, at first, and innocent enough given the context of the alcohol- and estrogen-infused apartment Mia shares with her mom and younger sister. But she keeps pushing at it and pushing at it, finding opportunities to touch him, picking fights and making up, staring at him with unbridled teenage lust. Hey, what's a guy to do?

No, I'm not suggesting that what happens between Connor and Mia is her fault -- he's an adult, at least nominally, and she isn't. But the fact that it's a terrible idea to sleep with your mother's 35-year-old lover, whose provenance and background are unknown, doesn't mean that Mia doesn't want to. In Arnold's view, both in "Red Road" and here, human sexuality is an explosive device that doesn't defuse easily, and when it goes off its ripple effects can be negative, positive, surprising and devastating. (Be prepared: She's also disturbingly frank about the fact that illicit or forbidden sex is often the hottest -- however we may feel about it seconds or hours later.)

On one level, "Fish Tank" tells a familiar, even archetypal, story, one that's been told in different social settings by Thomas Hardy and Henry James -- the seduction and disillusionment of a young girl -- but once again Arnold uses this familiarity as a source of strength. While the filmmaking world is awash with low-budget hyperrealism these days, few directors at any level have Arnold's gift for mounting suspense and powerful emotion, or her flair for thrilling, immediate images. (The terrific cinematography is by Robbie Ryan.)

If what happens between Connor and Mia is in some sense predictable, it's because the mistakes they've made are so recognizable, and we understand the tragic or near-tragic territory where they're likely to lead. But I don't think "Fish Tank" is entirely or principally about that story. It's about Mia, one of the truly memorable, deeply flawed movie heroines of recent years, as she wanders across this exurban wasteland in her pose of aggrieved nobility, head-butting rival chicks on the playground or futilely struggling to free a half-starved horse tethered in a junkyard. It's about her startlingly moving hip-hop dance numbers, performed to borrowed CDs in a vacant apartment. (As in "Red Road," Arnold makes marvelous use of pop music, including Bobby Womack's heartbreaking cover of "California Dreamin'," which comes to stand for the impossible dreams Mia must give up.)

Most magical of all is the fact that Arnold believes in the possibility of deliverance, even in a life apparently as closed-down and barren as Mia's. If I can borrow another feminist-theory term, Arnold argues for Mia's "agency," for the fact that her decisions are her own and that even the worst ones -- which get pretty bad, worse than I've told you -- contain the possibility of transformation. There's a scene at the end of the movie when Mia and her sister, in defiance of all plausibility, end up dancing to Nas' "Life's a Bitch" with their mother, who for most of the film has been a bitter, drunken harridan. (One of the film's ironies is that Connor is a much better and more loving parent -- at least, you know, up to a point.) There's no way Arnold should be able to pull off such a stereotypical chick-flick move in this universe, but something about the contrast between the driving nihilism of the music and the unexpected tenderness of the image totally destroyed me.

Of course we recognize that this moment of reconciliation and female solidarity is fleeting, but it still unlocks a secret to this wonderful, challenging movie: None of these characters, as trapped by economics and psychology and low expectations as they may be, is doomed to do tomorrow exactly what they did today. What has not killed Mia -- and girlfriend is tough to kill -- has made her stronger.

"Fish Tank" opens Jan. 15 at the IFC Center and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas in New York, with wider release to follow. Beginning Jan. 27, it's also available on-demand via IFC In Theaters, on many cable-TV systems.

* More Andrew O'Hehir
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Re: Reviews and SPOILERS

Post by Admin on Wed Jan 13, 2010 2:23 am

http://www.villagevoice.com/2010-01-12/film/fifteen-and-pissed-fish-tank/

Fifteen and Pissed: Fish Tank
Newcomer Katie Jarvis's teen misfit swims upstream
By Ella Taylor
Tuesday, January 12th 2010 at 3:51pm

IFC Films
Opens January 15
IFC Center and Lincoln Plaza

Katie Jarvis, who makes her acting debut as a rabid teenager in writer-director Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank, was discovered on an English railway station platform, yelling at her boyfriend. 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.

Neglected and abused in equal measure by a ridiculously young mother (the excellent Kierston Wareing) who could give Mo'Nique's monster parent in Precious a run for her money, Mia runs wild in her down-at-the-heel neighborhood, playing hooky from school, head-butting girlfriends, and scavenging alcohol wherever she can. Doggedly pursued by Arnold's handheld camera, this unguided missile of a girl walks or runs in aimless circles, a ball of furious energy fueled by the defiance that still animates the young and lonely before despair sets in. Jarvis has a broad, capable back and a cocky assurance belied at every turn by her faun eyes and expressive mouth. Dressed in old sweats, with her hair caught in a careless pony tail, Mia projects an unsettling brew of brute force, nascent sexuality, and heart-stopping vulnerability—which proves a lethal cocktail for all parties when her mother's latest boyfriend, Connor (Hunger's Michael Fassbender), unexpectedly moves into their tiny house.

An affable, twinkly, and mostly shirtless hunk, Connor is adept with children, carrying Mia and her younger sister, Tyler (the remarkably poised Rebecca Griffiths), upstairs to their beds when they fall asleep. Inviting them along, against their mother's wishes, on a country outing that promises a rare interlude of something like fun in the girls' lives, Connor is instinctively solicitous, as well as secretive about his life in ways that would set off alarm bells in a more-cared-for child than Mia, whose first experience of warm tenderness allows her to let down her guard. That their relationship quickly turns creepy is due to a mutual (but unequal) inability to draw boundaries. If Mia is someone you want to take in your lap one minute, and avoid in a dark alley the next, the feckless Connor is someone you want to call to account.

Like her Scottish counterpart, Lynne Ramsay (Ratcatcher, Morvern Callar), Arnold is a talented exponent of the new British miserabilism—vérité kitchen-sink drama, trimmed with visual poetry and a visceral candor about sex that's absent in the primly chaste films of Mike Leigh or Ken Loach. This is unusual coming from a woman filmmaker, as is Arnold's preoccupation with voyeurism, a device deployed less organically in Fish Tank than in her strikingly original Red Road (2006), in which a woman abuses her closed-circuit television police camera to spy on a stranger with whom she's obsessed. Here, too, when Connor lends Mia a camera to help prepare her for an audition in her one passion, the breakdancing she performs with more zeal than talent, she ends up using it to spy on him.

Also like Ramsay, Arnold is lyrically attuned to the jolie-laide beauty of destroyed urban landscapes. Only, in her case, she can't resist the overkill of gussying up a shot with noir-romantic symbols—a white horse chained in a junkyard, a fish out of water gasping for breath, a tree rustling in livid yellow light in anticipation of disaster. And, indeed, the consequences of Mia's surrender to Connor feel more contrived than inherently dramatic, and from here on, the movie turns stiff and pat, leaving us manipulated by Arnold's desire to give her hapless heroine the worst life she can think of, followed by a great escape. That might be all right for another kind of life than Mia's, but it's jarring in a movie so insistent, up to this point, on sidestepping false uplift. What's best about Fish Tank—Arnold's gift for atmospherically evoking what it feels like to inhabit an unsteady, frequently hostile, and arbitrary world, and to respond in kind—ends up fatally undermined by a denouement so hammy, it invokes a giggle rather than a tear.
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