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Fish Tank Reviews part 2

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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Fri Apr 29, 2011 10:29 pm

http://tomvonloguenewth.blogspot.com/2011/04/fish-tank.html

Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Fish Tank

Fish Tank centers around 15 year-old Mia (Katie Jarvis) who lives with her slatternly mom (Kierston Wareing) and little sister (Rebecca Griffiths, smart-mouthed and very funny) on a tower block council estate in Essex, east of London. Even without preconceptions, it’s clear from the start that this is a grotty place of constant swearing and antagonism, knee-jerk resorts to violence and cheap booze (even their dog’s named after a beer). Mia’s one heartfelt pastime is to dance to R&B and one morning she finds herself being watched in the kitchen by handsome topless Irishman Connor (Michael Fassbender), her mom’s new beau. As he puts it, Mia’s got a mouth on her and as he sticks around looking like a potential Dad-Charming, their relationship develops erratically but with a queasy sexual charge.

At the same time, Mia develops a tentative relationship with a local pikey who necks cough mixture and nicks car parts from the junk yard. All the while, she’s under the threat of remand school, but all she wants to do is dance. The climax is precipitated by a foolish decision in which Mia is coerced, knowing no better, which results in a very stupid and nearly fatal outcome, but by the end she’s gained enough sense of self to make a wise decision, and her final action augurs escape and hope.

Arnold has been at pains to describe the movie as one about people, rather than “lower-class people” and the film’s moral turpitude lies not in the estate but in a row of wannabe-bourgeois new homes in a neighbouring suburb. It might be tempting to think of the estate as the fish tank, where people mill around between the imprisoning tower blocks, trapped forever. An interpretive trap is even laid on the family’s river outing when Connor states that “no-one comes here and the fish are stupid”. But in fact, the fish tank is the long window of the empty upstairs apartment in which Mia privately practices her dancing, a fish tank of the self, through which she can see the vast expanse of London and a future of infinite possibility.

This is only emphasized by the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, which is a comforting formal choice (is it easier to relate to the underclass if they look like they’re on TV?) but in some ways a shame given that aside from impeccable acting and direction, the photography by Red Road’s Robbie Ryan is terrific: lighting, angles and composition make a traditionally drab existence quite beautiful without meretricious prettify, and some stylistic flourishes – close-ups, focus blurring – work perfectly as conduits of emotion for the characters. Despite the largely successful attempt to depart from a typical drab council estate movie mode there is necessarily an air of inevitability to these lives which comes more from received notions than actual social circumstances, and certain points nudge heavy-handedness (the horse Mia tries to rescue would have to be white, wouldn’t it?) But it’s Katie Jarvis’s film, a first-timer like most of the cast, found on a railway station. She’s remarkable, perfectly self-assured both when center-stage but also when gazing pubescently at Connor, or caught in the morning light, fresh-faced despite the pimples, in strawberry pajama bottoms, as the vulnerable child she still partly is.

d/sc Andrea Arnold p Kees Kasander, Nick Laws ph Robbie Ryan ed Nicolas Chaudeurge pd Helen Scott cast Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing, Rebecca Griffiths, Harry Treadaway
(2009, UK/Neth, 123m)

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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sat Apr 30, 2011 3:36 am

http://corndogchatscinema.blogspot.com/2011/04/fish-tank-2011.html

Friday, April 29, 2011
Fish Tank (2011)

Written & Directed by Andrea Arnold

Fish Tank marks the second effort from British writer/director Andrea Arnold, however it marks the first appearance from young actress Katie Jarvis, who has the privilge of working along side the fantastic British actor Michael Fassbender in this depressingly gritty family drama. Although only her second feature film, Arnold is not new to the scene, winning an Academy Award in 2005 for her short Wasp. Katie Jarvis, on the other hand, was discovered by a talent scout after having a row with her boyfriend in a railway station, according to her Wikipedia page. However it happened, Jarvis is a raw talent who gets the chance to shine in Arnold's Fish Tank; and she takes great advantage of it.

Jarvis plays 15-year-old Mia who lives with her mother, who she hates, and her little sister. It is apparent in the opening moments of the film that Mia is a bitter and rebellious person, as she confronts a a group of girls her own age and ends the confrontation by head butting one of them. But we soon see a lighter side of the violent Mia as she tries to free a horse from its chains in an apparently abandoned lot. But she soon must wrestle her way from two men who physically harass her. This is a girl with a lot of attitude and a lot of fight in her. So when Connor (Fassbender) shows up as her mother's new boyfriend, it looks like he might be just the man she needs in her life to set her on the straight and narrow. She likes urban dance and is quite good at it. He encourages her. He also is able to channel her scornful ways into some less violent and more productive activities. It is apparent that he has taken a liking to her and she to him, but the question becomes just how will Connor be able to change the life of Mia. And if/when he does, will it be for the best, because all may not be what it seems from the mysterious new boyfriend Connor.

At surface level, Fish Tank is a simple film with few characters and settings and a less than intricate plot. But what makes the film an interesting work is the complexity that boils under the surface, and I think that can best be stated by the performances here. Jarvis and Fassbender have great on screen presence, especially together, but their subtle approach and use of body language really sells both Mia's angst and pent-up aggression and Connor's loving, caring mystery. All the credit in the world should go to writer/director Andrea Arnold for being able to fully envision this story with these actors into the finished product we have on screen.

A few things did catch my eye otherwise, however. First, I noticed that the aspect ratio of the film was much lower, making the picture much boxier and less widescreen than most releases today. I cannot say it was a bad touch on the film, but it was something that I immediately noticed and continued to notice. I would be curious to learn why Arnold decided to film the movie in such an aspect ratio because it did take me out of the experience from time to time, though it was interesting to see something different. Another thing I noted while watching the film was the fact that some of the characters seemed to be caricatures. For instance the mother of the family seemed too scripted to believe. I understand these types of people and stories do exist in the world and it is very sad to know they exist, but like Precious from a few years ago, the situation almost seems so terrible and dire for its own good at times. Now, these times are few and far between and I think I am stretching to find things I didn't like about the film. And I would have no problem admitting that the film does these "caricatures" and terrible situations extremely well.

Despite the strange aspect ratio, Fish Tank was photographed extremely beautifully and the cinematography was certainly one of the major attractions of the film, along with the great performance by Katie Jarvis. Its bleakness and slice of life type story may not bring me back for more in the future, though that becomes more of a personal thing than a viable criticism, but Fish Tank is definitely worth checking out at least once because it is a very well made film with plenty to offer.
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sat Apr 30, 2011 5:34 pm

http://reallyducksoup.blogspot.com/2011/04/best-art-films-of-2010.html

"Fish Tank." Andrea Arnold's "Fish Tank" is the portrait of an angry, isolated 15-year-old girl who is hurtling toward a lifetime of misery. She is so hurt and lonely, we pity her. Her mother barely even sees her. The girl is Mia, played by Katie Jarvis in a harrowing display of hostility. She's been thrown out of school, is taunted as a weirdo by boys her age, has no friends, converses with her mother and sister in screams and retreats to an empty room to play her music and dance alone. She drinks what little booze she can get her hands on.

And where is her mother? Right there at home, all the time. Joanne (Kierston Wareing) looks so young, she might have had Mia at Mia's age. Joanne is shorter, busty, dyed blond, a chain-smoker, a party girl. The party is usually in her living room. One day, she brings home Connor (Michael Fassbender), a good-looking guy who seems nice enough. Mia screams at him, too, but it's a way of getting attention.

One day Connor takes Mia, her mom and her little sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths) on a drive to the country. Connor takes Mia wading ("I can't swim") in the river. Walking barefoot, she gets a ride on his back and rests her chin on his shoulder, and what was in the air from the first is now manifest. Some reviews call Connor a pedophile. I think he's more of an immoral opportunist. Arnold sees everything through Mia's eyes and never steps outside to explain things from any other point of view. She knows who the young girl is, and we are left to assume. Whatever she thinks after the visit to Connor's house, we are not specifically told.

Katie Jarvis herself may have been headed was heading for a life similar to Mia's. Her casting in this film, however, led to Cannes, the Jury Prize, and contracts with British and American agents. She is a powerful acting presence, flawlessly convincing here. And Arnold, who won an Oscar for her shattering short film "Wasp" (2003), also about a neglectful alcoholic mother, deserves comparison with a British master director like Ken Loach.

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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sat Apr 30, 2011 5:55 pm

http://jordanhowesa2media.blogspot.com/2011/04/fish-tank-peter-bradshaw-guardian.html

Thursday, 28 April 2011
Fish Tank; Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

In this film, Andrea Arnold has demonstrated her mastery and fluency in the social-realist idiom, and simply makes it fizz with life. Having now watched Fish Tank a second time, I am more exhilarated than ever by Arnold's idealism, and in a movie marketplace where so much is vapidly cynical, this is a mistral of fresh air. Arnold finds a way into the fashionable notion of a "Broken Britain", but in place of the pundits' dismay and contempt, she offers tenderness and hope. If Ken Loach were ever somehow called on constitutionally to nominate a successor, it would surely have to be Arnold. She's got the grit; she has Loach's humanism and optimism and she has a happy knack of getting great performances out of her cast, particularly from Michael Fassbender, who proves that he's not just sex on a stick – he's complexity and vulnerability on a stick as well. Added to this, Arnold and her cinematographer, Robbie Ryan, conjure some glorious, almost Turner-ish images of the Essex countryside, with its racing summer skies.


At the centre of the story is newcomer Katie Jarvis, playing Mia, a tricky, lairy 15-year-old in trouble with the social services for breaking a girl's nose after a contretemps in one of the windswept municipal canyons lying between tower blocks. She has inherited from her mum, played by Kierston Wareing, a stroppy insecurity and a nascent fondness for the booze. The family dog is actually called Tennent's. Mia has a feisty younger sister, Tyler – a scene-stealer of a performance from Rebecca Griffiths – who is always winding Mia up with shrill threats to "tell on her". There is no dad in the picture. Mia has just one interest in life: urban dance, and she isn't too bad, but the moves she practises are moody, introverted and subdued, rather like the dancer herself.

Their torpid lives are disrupted when Mia's mother miraculously gets a new boyfriend, Connor: and Fassbender gives his best performance yet. Connor is funny, sexy, confident and utterly relaxed where everyone else appears clenched with resentment. Noticeably articulate, Connor appears to come from a marginally more middle-class world and he is also, tellingly, a breadwinner. Mia rifles through his wallet while he's upstairs with her mum and instead of immediately nicking the cash, she gazes fascinated at his payslips: a man who actually works for a living. How many of those has she ever met?

Without consciously realising it, Mia is hoping that Connor could be a father-figure, and both sisters are secretly thrilled when he takes them all out for a drive in the country, and shows them how he can catch a fish with his bare hands. While her mother and sister cringe on the riverbank, Mia wades out into the cold, slimy water to help him and Tyler squeaks: "Is it minging?"

No, it is not minging. It is sensual and exciting, an exotic experience such as Mia has never known. And it marks the decisive point at which Connor and Mia's relationship drifts past being that of a quasi-father and daughter. Connor even takes an interest in her dancing, and casually lends her his expensive camcorder to tape an audition for a local competition, trusting that he will get it back. "You dance like a black," he tells her, with studied, flirtatious insolence. "I mean it as a compliment."

Mia has an enormous, poignant capacity for love, but she has never received any, certainly not from a damaged mother, whose one moment of intimacy with her daughter comes when she ferociously tells Mia that she was thinking of having her aborted. So she has no idea how to express or manage love and it is her muddled, suspicious longing for the safety and comfort of a father's care that makes the situation so explosive. As for Connor, it is far from clear how much baggage he has: he moves in to Mia's mum's flat because he says his own mother has thrown him out and often has to take calls from his "mum", but what is really going on? It becomes all too clear that if Mia has her own issues about family, then so does Connor – whose secrets are shabbier and more poisonous than either Mia or her mother could have realised.

The situation heralds an unwatchably tense finale as Mia's adoration turns into anger and then a determination to survive, to outgrow her surroundings, and to forgive. Arnold shows us that what makes the relationship between Mia and Connor so transgressive is not their obvious sexual attraction but their quite genuine, if thwarted and delusional longing to be father and daughter.

Jarvis has given a wonderfully honest and open performance to be compared with David Bradley in Kes, or Émilie Dequenne in the Dardenne brothers' Rosetta. Her relationship with Fassbender is what gives the film its beating heart.
Posted by cnsmedia_jordanhowes at 02:47

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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sat Apr 30, 2011 6:22 pm

http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-entertainment/ci_17941955?source=rss

Slouching Towards Hollywood: Commanding 'Fish Tank' avoids the cliché
By Ashley Meeks / For Pulse
Posted: 04/28/2011 01:00:00 AM MDT

Katie Jarvis was cast as Mia in the film Fish Tank after a casting assistant saw her arguing with her boyfriend on a station platform in Essex. Michael Fassbender co-stars in the film. (Courtesy photo)
The title of "Fish Tank" (2009, not rated) is easily the least interesting and most predictable thing about British writer/director Andrea Arnold's biting, bittersweet look at the life of a 15-year-old aspiring hip hop dancer with little more than a scowl, a 20-quid tracksuit, a wiry body topped by thin dark hair, a cheap nylon black-string backpack and a no-name MP3 player.

Oh, you might think that you've seen this plot arc before, the story of a 15-year-old who can't quite toughen her skin fast enough for her world, with a liberal sprinkling of the working-class and gritty elements of "8 Mile" on top. She head-butts girls her age, screams hurtful words at her mother, dreams of dancing in even sub-par music videos. That's like saying you've seen the dorm room poster of Starry Night - no need to see the real thing, the texture of the oil sculpted into manic, topographic brushwork at MOMA in New York. Eh.

You might be able to make a reasonable guess about where "Fish Tank" will end up. But you'd have better luck trying to guess the path of a curveball.

So what's our plucky heroine faced with in the two hours we make her acquaintance?

It's daylight, your early-30s mom is dressed like a tramp and has invited half the apartment complex over to listen to booming reggae. You're not shocked though - you're just scheming about how to get at the bottle of cheap vodka the girl being pawed at on your kitchen counter has just set down. You're just 15, after all. If you can
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drink, you can forget about that emaciated horse chained up outside the trailer you pass every day on foot.

It's a boring afternoon, your single-digit-age sister is passing a cigarette with her friend, drinking from a tall can of lager and swearing as comfortably as George Carlin. She's just irritating, with her stupid interest in tanning outside the council estate, a perfect little budding copy of your mum. You take another slug or 10 from your green plastic bottle of cider, and review the hip hop dance moves you've been working on in an abandoned flat, from cheap, tiny speakers for your MP3 player. Your break dancing might be better, stronger, if you drank less and could tear your eyes away from the world on the horizon, which, while not glittering, is at the very least Not Where You Are Now. It could be Wales, for all your care. It's somewhere else.

It's nighttime, and, passed out, your mom's new boyfriend - a young fella, maybe 10 years older than you - carries you to your bed as tipsy mom passes out in her pink, beaded bedroom. He lays you down on your bed, undoes your shoes with a father's tenderness and, this is where your vision gets slow-motion, undoes your ubiquitous track pants, tugs them around your birdlike, tiny, androgynous hips. You smirk, confident in your power from behind your not-quite-closed eyes, forearm draped over your forehead. The smirk fades when you realize he's just making you comfortable to pull up your blankets and leave the room. You resolve then to follow him - to his work, to his home, into a muddy river to catch carp, if that's what the situation requires. He's a security guard, not a hunky hero, but he is at the very least some kind of embodiment of what you see on the horizon.

The clouds are gathering, and you're in an unfamiliar, grassy suburb filled with men who drive station wagons, well fed women in fur boots and yoga pants, and little girls who are little girls, who dress in sequined princess costumes and zoom obediently back and forth and up and down the sidewalks outside their house. Little girls who, at some point, will have to realize that their peers in elementary school are getting loaded, that their peers in middle school are having sex, and that their peers in high school are paying the bills by stripping on circular formica stages. No matter where you come from, quiet suburbs or cramped, stripped-to-the boards council estates with porches obscured by sagging ropes of drying clothing, at some point the world will very likely grab you and fling you into its filthy, churning water.

With your forearm over your forehead and a slight smile on your face, you may even think that that's what you want, that that's what you can handle, that you can push beyond the terrifying. Because that's the decision that turns child abandonment into a steely resolve to "party," even if the party isn't what you want. That's the decision that can spin rape into a mutual seduction, if just for now, until you can get on and beyond and to some calm, safe place. That's the decision that makes the difference between crying about the muddy waters and wading in anyway. Because you know you're going to get hurt, no matter what you do, and it's better to have the pain on your terms.

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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Fri May 06, 2011 9:35 pm

http://cynicritics.com/2011/05/05/review-fish-tank/

REVIEW: Fish Tank
Posted on May 5, 2011 by matterspamer

Fish Tank
Directed by: Andrea Arnold
Written by: Andrea Arnold (screenplay)
Starring: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Harry Treadaway, and Kierston Wareing

Beginning with a head-on view of its protagonist surrounded by the blue walls of an abandoned apartment, Fish Tank explains its title almost right off the bat. Mia, the 15-year-old girl occupying that frame, takes a little bit longer to get to know, though.

Director Andrea Arnold laces this confrontational tale of emerging adulthood and sexuality with vulgar language and despicable acts; more importantly, though, she fills it to the brim with sympathy. Though Mia (Katie Jarvis) lives in the slums of Essex with her abusive mother and equally vulgar sister, she’ll be the first to tell you she’s not a victim. In the first ten minutes, she headbutts a girl just for having the nerve to argue back at her and she attempts to free an imprisoned horse from a band of gypsies.

Underneath that gruff exterior, as is the case with many hardened movie characters (though they’re usually men), is a lonely soul yearning for some kind of escape. Arnold pokes fun at those movies where the characters can escape through artistic talent. You can see that Mia isn’t good at dancing. Her escape will have to be clawing through dirt, if at all.

Jarvis is extraordinary in the lead role, showing the tiny specks of emotion entirely through Mia’s actions. We watch her journey from her perspective, but without any narration to get us inside. Tracking shots are key to Fish Tank’s expressive power. There are several shots of her surroundings that she obstructs. She is deliberately enlarged in these shots to keep the audience focused on what crazy thing she might do next.

Fish Tank recalls the little-seen Julia from 2008 starring Tilda Swinton. The main character’s self-destructive tendencies are often off-putting, but we’ll follow her to the bitter end and even root for her. It’s also easy to see elements of Precious here as well, especially when the mom’s boyfriend, played by the impeccable Michael Fassbender, starts playing love games with Mia as well.

Make no mistake, though, this movie creates its own cinematic world. Some of it may not feel as real as the rest of it, like Mia’s half-hearted attempts to find normalcy with someone her own age (the nerve!), but Arnold has created a potent feminist drama that cannot be excused because of its protagonists sexuality or attractiveness. Mia is pretty, but there’s a reason she wears almost nothing but baggy sweats the entire movie.

Though much of Fish Tank is its realistic environment, the many artistic flourishes in the scenery help tremendously. The heightened sense of color in many of the interiors go well with the lush nature settings, especially the aquatic ones. Water environments host the movie’s most charming scene, where Mia wades out with faux-dad Connor (Fassbender) to catch fish, and its most terrifying, which I won’t spoil.

The lived in world of working-class England is the perfect setting for this girl who does not really know how to live in any sort of world. Coming-of-age stories are often packaged with sentimentality, and gravitate from the extreme evil in life to the uplifting good by the end. Fish Tank walks a finer line, creating a realistic world where dreams don’t just happen because a screenwriter says so. Mia lives in an artistically rendered creation that doesn’t feel thought-up at all. This is her little world, and if you tap on the glass there will be hell to pay.

Grade: B+

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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Fri May 06, 2011 9:43 pm

http://blurayforum.blogspot.com/2011/05/fish-tank-criterion-collection-2009.html

Sunday, May 1, 2011
Fish Tank: The Criterion Collection (2009) Review
Fish Tank: The Criterion Collection (2009)
Average Reviews:

(More customer reviews)Tilbury Town railroad station, Tilbury, Essex, England - a common event unfolds on the train platform. A young woman is arguing with her boyfriend. But what seems like a natural occurrence to the naked eye is a turning point in nineteen-year-old Katie Jarvis's life, as an Oscar®-winning director, Andrea Arnold, was watching the argument unfold from across the train platform. And thus begins the story of Fish Tank, a gritty and gripping 2009 drama, set in England, directed by Andrea Arnold. Katie Jarvis, the volatile and angry girlfriend on the platform, stars as Mia Williams, a fifteen-year-old binge drinking high-school dropout, living in a small tenement with her single mother Joanne, played by the British Independent Film Award nominee Kierston Waering, and her younger sister Tyler, played by Rebecca Griffiths. Mia is an expelled student, a volatile adolescent, and a passionate street dancer. After a day of picking fights with fellow street-dancing females, illegally purchasing alcohol from street dealers, avoiding a conference with a secondary school representative and trying to rescue a white horse from a seemingly abandoned lot, the teenager returns home to find that her mother has brought home a young man, Connor, played by Hunger's Michael Fassbender. Connor is a seemingly nice man, who takes Mia, Joanne and Tyler on a family drive to go fishing at a secluded pond. But Connor is sheltered beneath a shell that hides the man's true colors, as his eyes are not focused on Mia's drinking, smoking, abusive mother - they are focused on Mia.
The style in which Fish Tank is filmed resembles that of Christian Mungiu's 4 luni, 3 sãptãmâni ºi 2 zile (known in English by 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days), in that what is being filmed is almost a documentary. The camera shakes when Mia is attacked by three tough boys when trying to rescue the white horse. The camera shakes when Mia chases after Connor's car after he walks out on her mother, and as Mia flees from the clutches of the three thugs in the lot. A handheld camera is used for scenes when Mia is in the abandoned apartment, practicing her hip-hop dancing to Ja Rule and Nas. The brilliant and engaging "new" camera style enables the audience to engage more sufficiently in Mia's life as she lives it.
Rarely do I ever close my eyes in films, and rarely do I have to reach over and hold the hand of whomever is sitting next to me in the theatre, whether it be my mother, father, sister, or that woman sitting next to me who keeps chatting with her girlfriend, but Fish Tank and Katie Jarvis's exhilarating, awe-inspiring, heartbreaking performance made me do both. Her role pins you to your seat from the very first scene to the very last moments, which has been seen once before this year in a young newcomer's performance in a motion picture - Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe in Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire. In fact, Fish Tank has been referred to as Britain's Precious, two motion pictures with hauntingly similar yet eerily different plotlines - a high-school dropout, living in a bad area, with an abusive parent and troubled lives. Like Sidibe, the debutante Katie Jarvis outshines and upstages veteran actors such as Michael Fassbender and Kierston Waering, and offers an authentic and breathtaking role in an unfortunately relatable part.
Fish Tank: Directed by Andrea Arnold. Starring Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierston Waering, Rebecca Griffiths and Harry Treadaway.

Click Here to see more reviews about: Fish Tank: The Criterion Collection (2009)

British director Andrea Arnold (Red Road) won the Cannes Jury Prize for the searing and invigorating FISH TANK, about a fifteen-year-old girl, Mia (electrifying newcomer Katie Jarvis), who lives with her mother and sister in the depressed housing projects of Essex. Mia�s adolescent conflicts and emerging sexuality reach boiling points when her mother�s new boyfriend (a lethally attractive Michael Fassbender [Hunger, Inglourious Basterds]) enters the picture. In her young career, Arnold has already proven herself to be a master of social realism (evoking the work of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach), investing her sympathetic portraits of dead-end lives with a poetic, earthy sensibility all her own. FISH TANK heralds the official arrival of a major new filmmaker.

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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Fri May 13, 2011 10:42 pm

http://forthedishwasher.blogspot.com/2011/05/andrea-arnold-fish-tank-2009-bluray-rip.html

Sunday, May 8, 2011
Andrea Arnold- Fish Tank (2009)- BluRay Rip (1080p-x264)
andrea arnold- fish tank
We posted a film called Rain some months back, and to this day it's one of my favorite coming-of-age films. Fish Tank's main character, Mia, reminds me of a slightly more grown up Janey. They're both girls that have seen too much at too early an age.

The beautiful differences are that Rain is pure slow-motion New Zealand poetry, while Fish Tank is kinetic euro-trash kitchen sink. What gives me hope about both films is that women are at the helm, and it seems as if women are slowly taking over the screen, which is a good thing. Fish Tank is an amazing film, and the cinematographer has such a wonderful eye. The only drawback is that it wasn't shot on film, but considering the stark subject matter, digital was probably a good choice. There's not alot of warmth in the film, but when it's there, it's real. Enjoy!

From Roger Ebert:

Andrea Arnold's piercing "Fish Tank" is the portrait of an angry, isolated 15-year-old girl who is hurtling toward a lifetime of misery. She is so hurt and lonely, we pity her. Her mother barely even sees her. The film takes place in a bleak British public housing estate, and in the streets and fields around it. There is no suggestion of a place this girl can go to find help, care or encouragement.

The girl is Mia, played by Katie Jarvis in a harrowing display of hostility. She's been thrown out of school, is taunted as a weirdo by boys her age, has no friends, converses with her mother and sister in screams and retreats to an empty room to play her music and dance alone. She drinks what little booze she can get her hands on.

And where is her mother? Right there at home, all the time. Joanne (Kierston Wareing) looks so young, she might have had Mia at Mia's age. Joanne is shorter, busty, dyed blond, a chain-smoker, a party girl. The party is usually in her living room. One day, she brings home Connor (Michael Fassbender), a good-looking guy who seems nice enough. Mia screams at him, too, but it's a way of getting attention.

Joanne seems happiest when Mia isn't at home. The girl wanders the streets and gets in a fight when she tries to free a horse chained in a barren lot near some shabby mobile homes. She surfs in an Internet cafe, goes to an audition for sexy dancers and breaks into a house at random.

One day differs from the routine. Connor takes Mia, her mom and her little sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths) on a drive to the country. This isn't an idyllic picnic; they simply park in a field and hike to a river, Joanne staying with the car. Connor takes Mia wading ("I can't swim") in the river. Walking barefoot, she gets a ride on his back and rests her chin on his shoulder, and what was in the air from the first is now manifest.

Some reviews call Connor a pedophile. I think he's more of an immoral opportunist. "Fish Tank," in any event, isn't so much about sex as about the helpless spiral Mia is going through. The film has two fraught but ambiguous scenes -- one when she goes to Connor's home, another involving a young girl -- that we can make fairly obvious assumptions about. But the movie doesn't spell them out; Arnold sees everything through Mia's eyes and never steps outside to explain things from any other point of view. She knows who the young girl is, and we are left to assume. Whatever she thinks after the visit to Connor's house, we are not specifically told. The film so firmly identifies with Mia that there might even be a possibility Joanne is better than the slutty monster we see. A slim possibility, to be sure.

In a film so tightly focused, all depends on Katie Jarvis' performance. There is truth in it. She lives on an Essex housing estate like the one in the movie, and she was discovered by Arnold while in a shouting match with her boyfriend at the Tilbury train station, which is seen in the movie. Now 18, she gave birth to a daughter conceived when she was 16.

We can fear, but we can't say, that she was heading for a life similar to the one Mia seems doomed to experience. Her casting in this film, however, led to Cannes, the Jury Prize, and contracts with British and American agents. She is a powerful acting presence, flawlessly convincing here. And Arnold, who won an Oscar for her shattering short film "Wasp" (2003), also about a neglectful alcoholic mother, deserves comparison with a British master director like Ken Loach.

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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sun May 15, 2011 12:39 am

http://americanmoviefan.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/fish-tank-2009-dir-by-andrea-arnold/

Fish Tank (2009)

May 13th, 2011 § Leave a Comment

Katie Jarvis and Michael Fassbender in Fish Tank

Written and Directed by Andrea Arnold

The is a fearless, unconventional, highly engrossing film with wonderful performances by the entire cast, using minimalist dialogue and effective employment of handheld camera work to give it a much more visceral, POV feel. Fish Tank turns the standard film trop of a struggle to rise above poverty slightly on its ear, giving the sub-genre an energy boost, the likes of which we haven’t seen in ages.

Fish Tank is a visual film with a story told through body language and locations, not dialogue or simplified action sequences. It unfolds like an optical illusion, in which at first nothing is clear but we are given pieces of a puzzle purely through visual context and nothing more. It’s quite ingenious film making. The story unfolds to reveal an angry, confused teenage girl named Mia (played by Katie Jarvis in a pitch-perfect performance) who has no friends, a promiscuous absentee mother, a foul mouthed younger sister, lives in the projects and hates her life. Hip-hop dancing is a popular past time in her area amongst the teen girls and she is no different. She works tirelessly to perfect her own unique dance routines in the hopes of one day being discovered.

Her mother gets a new boyfriend, played with perfectly dark charm by Michael Fassbender, a quickly rising international talent. Fassbender’s character is a well put together, friendly guy who just might be Mia’s ticket out. As the story unfolds, were shown how their relationship develops, for better or worse, and we find out if Mia successfully takes control of her own destiny or falls victim to the trappings and limitations of her upbringing.

It’s a wonderfully nuanced story with expert pacing and engrossing imagery and a plot that keeps you guessing. The direction of the film is flawless. This is as close as it comes nowadays, outside of maybe a film like Winters Bone, to feeling intimately real while telling fictional narrative. Its a tour-de-force for everyone involved and a marvel to behold.

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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sat May 21, 2011 9:09 pm

http://thevoid99.blogspot.com/2011/05/2011-cannes-marathon-fish-tank.html?zx=75d4a3d47810d41a

Saturday, May 21, 2011
2011 Cannes Marathon: Fish Tank

(Co-Winner of the Jury Prize w/ Thirst at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival)

Written and directed by Andrea Arnold, Fish Tank tells the story of a 15-year old girl whose family life is in chaos as she finds solace in her mother’s new boyfriend to take up street dancing. A coming-of-age film set in Britain, it is also a realistic portrayal of a young girl who feels unloved and alienated by the world around her. Starring Katie Jarvis, Kierston Wareing, Rebecca Griffiths, Harry Treadaway, and Michael Fassbender. Fish Tank is a harrowing yet enchanting coming-of-age film from Andrea Arnold.

Mia Williams (Katie Jarvis) is a foul-mouthed 15-year old girl who lives in a housing project in Tilbury with her mother Joanne (Kierston Wareing) and her younger sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths). Mia is also someone with no friends and doesn’t go to school as she spends a lot of her time alone practicing her street-dance moves and walking around the streets of Tilbury where she comes across a white horse. On one particular day, Mia discovers a man in her apartment as it’s her mother’s new boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender) as he takes Mia, Tyler, and Joanne on a road trip of sorts.

Mia enjoys Connor’s presence as he also enjoys her dancing while she also befriends one of the owners of the white horse in a 19-year old boy named Billy (Harry Treadaway). Mia learns of a dance competition coming as she asks Connor for help as he gives her a camera that she can film herself and send it for the audition. Yet, Mia remains intrigued by Connor as they hit it off despite the fact that he’s dating her mother whom she doesn’t like very much. Still, Mia is anxious about her performance as the relationship with her and Connor intensify leading to some issues. Even as Mia would make some discoveries about Connor that would change everything about their relationship.

The story of a young girl who finds solace in street-dancing to cope with her unhappy home and social life might seem like a premise that Hollywood would use to make it an inspirational story. Fortunately, that’s not what the film’s writer/director Andrea Arnold is going for as she aims for a film that follows this young girl’s journey. Yet, Mia Williams is a character that isn’t a perfect one like all girls in real life. Yes, she is a foul-mouthed, volatile, selfish young woman who often does things including head-butting other girls or shouting at her younger sister. Still, like Antoine Doinel of the films by Francois Truffaut like The 400 Blows, is a girl who feels unloved by her mother who is more like a young woman than a mother.

When Connor comes into Mia’s world, she finds someone who is like a father figure to her as he encourages her to dance and such. Yet, he is treated like scum whenever her mother is around as it suggests that Mia has some feelings for Connor. Still, it plays off as a father-daughter thing but as it progresses. It becomes something much though it’s followed by a series of complications that would change Mia’s perspective on Connor. This would follow by events that would not only impact Mia’s own sense of the world as well as the little amount of innocence she had left in her youth. Arnold’s script succeeds in studying Mia while creating characters such as Joanne and Connor as real people who are flawed but also have something about them that makes them enjoyable.

Arnold’s direction is truly mesmerizing in the way she follows Mia in her journey of growing up as it’s shot on location in Tilbury as well as other places in England. Yet, there is something beautiful in the way Arnold presents things in a town that is very working class and not very clean in a lot of places. Arnold’s direction has a mixture of hand-held work and steadicam camera shots to dwell into Mia’s journey while her framing is presented in a full-screen format. The decision to not use the widescreen format is probably because Arnold wanted something that is intimate and direct. The overall direction of the film is superb as Arnold creates a captivating drama about a girl in need of a future in her dreary world.

Cinematographer Robbie Ryan does a phenomenal job with the photography from the colorful yet naturalistic look for many of the film‘s exterior scenes including some nighttime scenes. Yet, a couple of interior shots such as Mia dancing in an empty room or at her apartment are filled with wonderful yet gorgeous lighting schemes to portray its mood. Editor Nicolas Chaudeurge does a superb job with the editing in maintaining a leisured pace for the film along with rhythmic jump-cuts for scenes of Mia practicing her dancing in a few key scenes.

Production designer Helen Scott and art director Christopher Wyatt do an excellent job with the look of the Williams‘ apartment along with the decayed trailer area that Billy lives in with his horse. Costume designer Jane Petrie does a very good job with the costumes from the scantily-clad clothing that Joanne wears to the street, hip-hop inspired clothes that Mia wears throughout the film. Sound editor Joakim Sundstrom does a brilliant job with the sound work to capture the chaotic atmosphere of the apartment with televisions on all the time to the world that is Tilbury.

The film’s soundtrack that is assembled by music supervisor Liz Gallacher is a mixture of hip-hop and soul music that dominates most of the film. Among the tracks that are played in the film are from artists like Nas, Ja Rule, Gang Starr, Cassie, Eric B. & Rakim, James Brown, and a great cover of the Mamas & the Papas’ California Dreamin’ by Bobby Womack that serves as the centerpiece of the film’s soundtrack.

The casting by Jill Trevellick is amazing for its realness as many of the actors that appear in the film are either non-professional for first-time actors. Memorable performances include Sydney Mary Nash as a young girl Mia encounters, Rebecca Griffiths as Mia’s precocious yet foul-mouthed little sister Tyler, and Harry Treadaway as a 19-year old boy named Billy whom Mia befriends. Kierston Wareing is excellent as Mia’s mother who is very neglectful and abusive most of the time unaware of the hurt she’s bringing while being someone who wants to remain youthful which includes a great moment of her, Mia, and Tyler dancing to Nas. Michael Fassbender is superb as Connor, Joanne’s new boyfriend who provides encouragement and attention to Mia while being a father figure of sorts despite the fact that he’s also got a secret to hide. Yet, Fassbender doesn’t make his character creepy though he’s a flawed individual who likes to drink and watch TV as it’s a remarkable performance from the Irish actor.

Finally, there’s Katie Jarvis in a towering debut performance as Mia Williams. Jarvis’ fiery performance is truly spellbinding in the way she acts out her frustrations along with the way she shouts. At the same time, she proves to be a capable street dancer that has a lot of talent without being too flashy and such. It’s a raw yet hypnotic performance from the young actress who is surely to become someone to watch in the years to come.

Fish Tank is a magnificent yet intense coming-of-age film from Andrea Arnold featuring Katie Jarvis’ powerful performance. Audiences of real British dramas will no doubt see this as one of the best films of that genre while be amazed into the story of a young girl living a world of misery. Even as it serves as a breakthrough for both Andrea Arnold and Katie Jarvis as Fish Tank is a stunning achievement for those two women and British independent cinema.

© thevoid99 2011
Posted by thevoid99 at 2:37 PM

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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sat May 21, 2011 9:18 pm

http://carlosdev.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/fish-tank/

May 21, 2011 · 8:37 am
Fish Tank

Kierston Wareing has unquiet slumbers.

(2009) Drama (IFC) Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing, Harry Treadaway, Sarah Bayes, Rebecca Griffiths, Sydney Mary Nash, Joanna Horton, Grant Wild. Directed by Andrea Arnold

One of the more interesting debates in modern society is nature vs. nurture. How much impact does our environment play in our personality? Is it all genetically ingrained from the beginning without a whole lot of input from our surroundings – or does our personality completely depend on the where and when of our lives?

Mia Williams (Jarvis) lives in a really tough part of Essex, in government housing – an apartment complex with large full windows along the front wall, resembling a fish tank. She’s feisty, temperamental and doesn’t take crap from anybody. There are few things in her life that bring her any sort of satisfaction – hip hop dancing (which she does kind of badly and artlessly), her younger sister Tyler (Griffiths) and whatever small amounts of alcohol she can pilfer.

Her mother Joanne (Wareing) is a boozer and a bit of a slut and as unfit a mother as it is possible to be. She has brought into their home Connor (Fassbender), a handsome man who treats Mia with unexpected kindness, despite her initial misgivings and outright hostility.

He takes the family to the country and teaches Mia to fish without a pole. She begins to develop a little bit of closeness – maybe too much. She also becomes attached to a dying horse in the camp of a group of travelers – and to Billy (Treadaway), a younger member of the group who has become sweet on her.

In the meantime all her dreams, large and small, are slowly dying – and sometimes not so slowly. She seems caught in a web of frozen inertia, one from which her young life may never be extricated from.

Director Arnold caught the imagination of the British movie press with this movie, who have fallen all over themselves in praising it – not to mention the awards the movie has garnered. I have not warmed to it as much as others, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a quality piece of filmmaking.

Part of what makes this film worth seeing is the performance by Jarvis. She had no previous acting experience and was cast after a member of the production team (some say it was Arnold herself) observed her having an argument with her boyfriend in a train station (the one that’s used in the movie in fact). Her untrained status helps make the performance. It’s raw, emotional and without guile or artifice. Mia isn’t always the most lovable or makes the best decisions, but the portrayal is absolutely realistic. She isn’t perfect which is kind of what is attractive about her.

I will have to admit that the relationship between Connor and Mia made me a little bit uncomfortable. I realize that this type of thing goes on all the time and given the personalities involved even makes a certain amount of sense. Still, it’s a bit difficult to watch.

Wareing also does an excellent job as the mom, even though she looks far too young to be the mother of a teenager. There’s a very nice scene at the very end of the movie between her and her daughters that is quite natural and if I described it to you, it would smack of old Hollywood but it feels authentic here.

This is a very well-made movie. I appreciated the performances and the craft behind the camera. While the heavy English accents made it difficult for these Yank ears to always understand what was being said, nevertheless this is a worthwhile movie to check out. It isn’t pretty – and Mia can be frustrating in her behavior, just like any teen. Still in all, for those who want to see the grittier side of the UK this makes a very good starting point.

WHY RENT THIS: Jarvis gives a raw, unvarnished performance and the movie pulls no punches looking at the working poor of England.

WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: The accents make the dialogue difficult to follow at times. The relationship between Connor and Mia is creepy.

FAMILY VALUES: Although the film was released without a rating, there is a severe amount of foul language, some sexuality including teen sex, alcohol and drug use, and some violence.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The film was shot chronologically, and the actors not given complete scripts so they were largely unaware of what was going to happen to their characters until the week of shooting.

NOTABLE DVD EXTRAS: This is available in a Criterion Edition which includes three short films by Andrea Arnold (including the 2003 Oscar winner Wasp) and audition footage of juvenile actresses auditioning for the role of Mia.

BOX OFFICE PERFORMANCE: $2.4M on a $3M production budget; I’m thinking this probably lost a few bucks.

FINAL RATING: 6.5/10

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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sat May 21, 2011 9:22 pm

http://coldbreezeontheinterstate.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/movie-fish-tank/

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Movie – “Fish Tank”
May 20, 2011

Starring Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing. Director Andrea Arnold.

A fifteen year old girl named Mia (Katie Jarvis) lives in the English equivalent to the housing projects, with her mother, Joanne (Kierston Wareing) and younger sister, Tyler. Mia is constantly in trouble, she fights with others, steals, and has some serious anger/attitude issues. Her mother is no help, she swears at her children and hits them when they don’t comply. Joanne brings home her new boyfriend Conner (Michael Fassbender) who shows and interest in Mia (for better or worse) and encourages her aspirations of dancing. Unfortunately, a situation arises between Mia and Conner, and we find out just what kind of person he is, and what he is hiding.

This is a very interesting film with very interesting factiods about it, which make the film even more remarkable. None of the actors were given a full script. Each week they were given a new section to cover what they would be filming in the upcoming week. This way the actors had no idea what would happen to their characters and had no idea of their motivations. Also, Katie Jarvis has never acted before. She was actually found at a train depot, yelling at her boyfriend. The casting director approached her for the part in the film, and the rest is history.

Knowing this, especially about Jarvis’ lack of acting experience, the acting is very remarkable. Jarvis isn’t a Meryl Streep, but she delivers her lines with emotion and passion. She is very exciting to watch. Michael Fassbender is incredibly charming in this role. One feels quite uneasy watching him, especially with Mia, because you cannot be sure of what his motives are and what he is hiding. He plays the role quite lightly, so you are taken in by him, but once situations arise you feel as taken in as Mia and her family. Kierston Wareing does quite well as the negligent mother, and the young girl who plays Tyler is also quite surprising; especially for her foul mouth, but she is quite endearing.

The is very little music in this movie, expect for that used in Mia’s dance scenes where the music is coming from her boom box, or coming from the speakers of Conner’s car. This seems like an unusual choice but this helps to give the movie and even more bleak tone. The costumes are present day clothes. Mia typically wears sweat pants and a mesh tank top, her mom tiny, tight dresses, and Conner wears jeans and tee shirts. Each outfit reminds the viewer of the station of each character.

This is definitely not a movie for everyone one, but everyone should watch it. This film is an unfortunate reminder of the life and future of many of the poor. This makes you think of the very slim chance that most of these children have of breaking the cycle of poverty, drugs, unwed pregnancy. The Average-Joe movie goer would probably not like this movie. Again this is a movie that many people may be able to relate to, but do not want to see real life acted out in front of them. Critics seemed to like this movie very much. This is a very great film. It may not be the movie that one watches over and over again, but it needs to be seen so it can be appreciated and discuss. 4.5 out of 5 starts.

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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Tue May 24, 2011 8:41 pm

http://www.popculturebeast.com/2011/05/criterion-day-2-fish-tank.html

Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Criterion A Day #2 - Fish Tank

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films...

Pop Culture Beast presents a Criterion-a-Day, reviewing Criterion titles daily (until we run out).

Fish Tank

Spine # 553
Written and Directed by Andrea Arnold
Starring: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierson Wareing, Rebecca Griffiths, Harry Treadaway and Sydney Mary Nash

From the box:

British director Andrea Arnold won the Cannes Jury Prize for the intense and invigorating Fish Tank, a bout a fifteen-year-old girl, Mia (electrifying newcomer Katie Jarvis), who lives with her mother and sister in the housing projects of Essex. Mia's adolescent conflicts and emerging sexuality reach a boiling point when her mother's new boyfriend (a lethally attractive Michael Fassbender) enters the picture. In her young career, Arnold has already proven herself to be a master of social realism, evoking the work of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach; and she invests her sympathetic portraits of dead-end lives with poetic, earthy sensibility all her own. Fish Tank heralds the official arrival of a major new filmmaker.

It's not just Andrea Arnold who makes a splash with this film, it's Katie Jarvis who delivers a wonderfully real and nuanced performance. She is excellent as the tough-as-nails Mia who wants nothing more than to be a dancer despite her lot in life.

Andrea Arnold has crafted a deep intense film that is elevated by the wonderful performances of Katie Jarvis and Michael Fassbender. It does seem a little predictable at times, you really do know where this is going to go as soon as certain characters show up but it doesn't end up the way you might have thought.

Some may say the ending is a little pat but to be honest, I liked how it ended. It seemed genuine. I won't spoil it, don't worry.

Criterion again delivers a wonderful transfer. The film looks great and the sound is perfect. As for special features, this one delivers quite well. The set includes a video interview, audio conversation with Michael Fassbender, audition footage, stills, trailers, an essay from Ian Christie and three short films from Andrea Arnold: Milk, Dog, and Wasp (Oscar winner).

While Fish Tank isn't groundbreaking by any means it is taken from the run of the mill movie it could have been by its lead's triumphant performance.


Fish Tank
Criterion Collection #553
Pop Culture Beast Rating
8/10

If you have any Criterion titles you'd like to see us feature in CAD, drop us a line!

Posted by Garon

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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Thu May 26, 2011 12:06 am

http://knitmi.livejournal.com/156880.html

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Fish Tank
Mia (Katie Jarvis) is an uncouth 15-year-old girl who has been expelled from school and spends her days wandering aimlessly around her dingy Essex neighborhood and arguing with her trashy mom (Kierston Wareing) and little sister (Rebecca Griffiths). She seeks solace from her bleak life through her love of hip-hop dancing. Everyday, she brings a boombox to an abandoned flat and makes up dances to the songs. The fact that her dancing is not very good just adds to the depressing nature of this movie. Her life improves when Mia's mom begins dating a charming Irishman, Connor (Michael Fassbender), who spends time with their family and encourages Mia's dancing. The relationship between Mia and Connor eventually crosses a line and the rest of the movie is so messed up, I don't even know how to describe it. Fish Tank won a bunch of awards, including the 2009 Cannes Jury Prize and 2010 BAFTA Outstanding British Film, and I appreciated newcomer Katie Jarvis' terrific performance, but I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone unless they love wretchedly depressing movies.

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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sun Jun 19, 2011 2:40 am

http://feminisingfilm.blogspot.com/2011/06/day-2-fish-tank.html

Saturday, 18 June 2011
Day 2: Fish Tank

(Spoilers marked with a *)

Day 1: Love like Poison

Day 3: Cleo from 5 to 7

British cinema is pretty much blanketed by hard-core, gritty, urban schlock. That or our infamous Period Drama’s. We’re good at gritty, don’t get me wrong on that - we define the word -, but I’ve seen so much of the damn stuff that by the time Fish Tank rolled round in ‘09, I was ready to welcome anything and everything with open arms that didn’t involve some Cockney Geezer or probably the worst stereotype going for teenagers – the knife wielding kind. (Seriously, I’ve lived through that s$#!; I don’t need to see every film pumped out of Britain to feed me the line that the country is so ‘outta control’.)

Yes, Fish Tank had all the ingredients to be another addition to the never-ending stack of Brit Grit: It’s set on a council estate, it revolves around a rowdy working class family and one of the kids in this family is trying to make a break for it and have a ‘better’ life away from their rough upbringing. But in reality, Fish Tank couldn’t be farther away from that dragged out formula.


From the get-go, we are introduced to 15-year old Mia’s (Katie Jarvis) hectic life. We see the teenager dancing her heart out in an abandoned flat, trawling her Essex council estate alone where she ends up head-butting some other girl, trying to free a tied-up horse in a caravan park where she just manages to escape from the travelers that live there, and showing us a glimpse of the complicated relationship she has with her mother, Joanne (Kierston Wareing.)

Despite having a nice-jokey relationship with her sister, Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths), Mia is pretty-much friendless, left with the only thing that she truly has a passion for – dancing.

As Mia goes through the motions of her lonesome existence, everything changes when Joanne’s new-boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender) bursts unexpectedly onto the scene, throwing a spanner into the works of the disintegrating family, and really bringing Mia out of her shell in the process.

To Mia, it seems almost too good to be true when Connor arrives. Charming, kind, and someone who actually pays attention to her, he is pretty much everything that Mia could hope for, and this sets off her instant attraction to him.

*Being someone that will actually listen to Mia, a girl that just wants someone to pay attention to her for once, Connor takes an interest in the one thing that Mia loves so much – her dancing. This is the first point in the film where you see the teenager dropping down her guard, and showing that she isn’t as hard as she makes out to be. She is nervous to show Connor her dancing, and the family day-out turns sour when Mia storms off after she becomes too embarrassed when her mother returns from getting a couple of drinks.


*Arnold captures these – dare I say it – ‘coming-of-age’ moments with perfection, letting moments that linger in Mia’s mind, linger in ours. One of the many scenes where this happens that springs to mind is between Connor and Mia. Connor leans in to let Mia smell his aftershave, and the screen sort-of becomes fuzzy, relaying a dream-like quality to it. (I’ll refrain from being to critique like on that note, don’t worry.)

*Mia even ends up capturing these moments with a video camera Connor lends to her with the intention to film her dance routine to enter a once-in-a-lifetime competition to become a paid dancer. Though she does film her routine later on (and gets to the audition stages), at-first, Mia ends up jokingly filming Connor getting changed (something which he doesn’t really seem to object too).

* Another wonderfully shot scene in this fashion - from Mia's perspective - is when Connor is putting her to bed. It's pretty hard to miss the longing, from Mia's part, as Connor acts on his fatherly instinct (which Mia reads in a completely different way.)

In Connor, Mia finds someone she can rely on, just because he has taken an interest in her when no one else would. However, their relationship is thwarted when Mia returns to the caravan park she was at in the beginning of the film and meets one of the three boys that had been there when she just managed to escape, Billy (Harry Treadaway).

*Billy, to Mia’s surprise, turns out to be a kind guy who she really connects with. The two end up having a really good time together, driving around drunk in a shopping trolley, and seeking out Connor to lend them some money (who turns out not to be amused when he sees who Mia is hanging out with.)

*Billy’s part in Mia’s life sets off Connor’s unseen jealous streak. When he asks Mia to show him her audition dance routine she will perform in the next few days, she does so, performing to California Dreamin’, a song that holds significance for both Connor and Mia as it was the song Connor played in the car when he took the family on a day out.

*And then Fish Tank diverts its course for the second time. Both drunk, Connor and Mia end up having sex, (and this, for me, is probably one of the most uncomfortable sex scenes I have seen in any film). Maybe because it was so real (but then again, Lust Caution posed that issue as well), but this outcome had been brimming on the surface of their relationship from the start. Connor’s jealous fury, and Mia’s longing for him, made the scene a lot more real; a lot more uncomfortable than any sex scene I have seen (and this includes the pretty f&%$#& up ones.)


*The brief point in time with Connor sets Mia’s life on a completely different track. The next day, Connor is gone and a desperate Joanne is left heartbroken. Mia tracks down Connor to find that he had been deceiving her family all along – he is already stuck in his own marriage, with his own child.

*A distraught Mia then does something that puts Fish Tank in a questionable stage of limbo – she kidnaps Connor’s daughter, Keira (Sydney Mary-Nash). Her mind a haze and in a state of panic, Mia pushes Keira into the Thames River, only to come to her senses in the nick of time.

*As a scene in the film, this particular confrontation with Connor’s daughter and Mia made me, for a second, have my doubts about Fish Tank. To me, when Mia did what she did, it seemed totally out of character and led the film into dangerous Soap Opera territory. But when you look at the horror Mia’s discovery had on her, and the outcome because of this, I shouldn’t have doubted Arnold because it gels perfectly with the film as a whole, (and in my opinion, gives Mia the courage to get away from her Essex life.)

*Now with Connor out of the picture, Mia decides to go to her dance audition alone, to find that it is in fact an audition for erotic dancers, rather than those of her hip-hop kind. When she gets up on stage for her performance, Mia can’t bring herself to go down that route, and leaves the one chance she may have at ever dancing in the dust in hope for a better life away from Essex with Billy.

I always find it hard to speak of a film and use the term ‘coming-of-age’, because really, ‘coming-of-age’ can happen at any time of your life; you don’t need to be a teenager for it to fit into that niche.

For Fish Tank, however, I think it is the exact way to describe it. Similar to Love like Poison (in the way that the main characters are on the brink of adulthood; confused by their feelings), Fish Tank works on so many different levels, but the one level I think carries itself well out of all the conflicting themes in the film, is the passion and drive to do something you love (and I think that is something most people can relate too.)


Mia’s dancing is what keeps her going, and probably the main thing I love about Fish Tank, is that she is no-dancer. Whether this was intentional or not (and I’d like to think it was intentional), she keeps going with it; she is still determined to make a better life for herself through dancing, even though it is near-impossible that anything will work out for her with the art-form.

The characters are also so relatable. It doesn't take long for an emotional connection to form with the characters, even Mia’s barely-around mother, Joanne. It's not just Mia that has her own problems (though we see this period of her families life from her eyes), it's evident there is more to the picture than Mia let's on.

*They all have their own problems, whether minor (Tyler wanting to be the elder sibling; more like her sibling) or more profound (Joanne and her trusting nature to men). These are the kind of real characters I love to see because they do seem like people you’d know, they have experienced problems you have gone through.

Let’s not forget Man of the Moment, though, and the one character, after Katie Jarvis’ Mia, that leaves the most impact on you – Fassbender's Connor.


*Having now seen Fish Tank about three times, Connor still works his smarmy charm well (even though I know what is going to happen, he still manages to pull off his good-guy act until the point when he has sex with Mia.)

*What I like about Connor’s character so much is that, for most of the film before everything collapses with his relationship with Mia’s family, he is seen as some Godly figure. He is the light at the end of the tunnel, and through his deceit, he brings the family closer together – even if the moment is a brief one, where Mia, her sister, and her mother, are swaying side-to-side to a Nas track before Mia intends to start her new life.


Connor’s arrival and departure, though it turns into a painful one and really brings out the cracks in the family, is a worthy one. He added something to all of Mia’s family that couldn’t have been there without his aid.

Fish Tank does something that barely any British films do now – it’s uplifting. Without being too sentimental here, it is a film that turns from the bleakest-of-bleak portraits of a lonesome teenager, to one that gives a little glimmer of hope for a better life. (I really can’t describe it in any other way than one that will bring out the violins, so sorry for that guys.)

Either way, like its predecessor in the Female Director Season, Love like Poison, it is a must-see.

At first I doubted Andrea Arnold was going to pull something like Fish Tank out of the bag, (which now happily sits on my 'Favourite Film' list). She's proved that there is more to British Cinema than all of that Grit, so I have full faith in her working the same magic with her adaptation of Wuthering Heights and redefining the Period Drama.

--

What is The Bechdel test? Find out right here.

1) There are two or more woman in the film - Yes, there are several + women in the film.

2) Who talk to each other - Yes, Mia, Tyler and Joanne have a fair few conversations.

3) About something other than a man - Yes, though there are conversations about Connor (obviously.)


Sorry for the delay in this being posted, guys. I seemed to have been pretty bogged down over the last few weeks, but I am still alive!


Posted by Cherokee at 15:58

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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:17 pm

http://filmjunkie25.blogspot.com/2011/06/rewind-fish-tank-spoilers.html

Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Rewind - Fish Tank *spoilers*

As a teenager, we all have dreams and aspirations that are usually cut down by the atmosphere surrounding us. Mia (Katie Jarvis) dreams of being a dancer. But there are a few things that make her road to dancing fame a little more rocky than others. First of all, her outlook on life is less than positive. She doesn't go to school, so she spends her time wandering around aimlessly causing trouble wherever she can find an opportunity to. When she gets to her home in a council estate, she is greeted by her equally potty-mouthed younger sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths) and her abrupt single mother Joanne (Kierston Wareing). Mia doesn't live in a happy world, but everything seems to change with the arrival of Joanne's new boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender). Connor brings a change to the household and is more like a father to Mia and Tyler than Joanne is a mother to them.


I guess this makes Connor sound like a top bloke. For the most part, he does look like a top bloke. He takes his new family out for a trip and shows Mia how to catch fish and introduces her to his favourite song. While Joanne isn't interested in having the kids interfere with her relationship with Connor, Connor is more interested in the welfare of everyone in the family. He's exactly the sort of guy Mia needs in her life. Someone who will listen to her and support her dreams of becoming a dancer, even giving her a video camera to record her talent. But Connor, though he seems really nice, is actually the most evil person ever. Okay, so maybe I hate him all the more because I'm a similar age to Mia and I would be so angry if someone was an asshole like that to me, but really, he was a horrible person. First of all, you don't just have sex with your girlfriends daughter. Second of all, that sex scene was one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen. The things he said during the whole thing were just downright creepy. And third of all, once I actually found out what kind of man this Connor guy really is...well, let's just say, I threw things.


So that must set this movie up to be a pretty angry one, huh? Yes, it's angry. When you have a protagonist like Mia, who seems to be very angry with the world (with good reason), it doesn't make for the most happy experience. But at least it's realistic. It doesn't try to sugarcoat anything in fear of being politically incorrect, nor does it try to make anything any happier than it really is. It just captures a teenage girl with her fair share of insecurities, even though she appears confident on the outside, coming of age. Except this teenage girl doesn't get her dream guy or have her dreams come true. She gets a crappy mother who would rather drink than actually do her duty, a man who pretends to be a family man but really wrecks her life, and a dance audition which isn't actually her sort of thing. The ending, though, is actually quite nice. Mia may not get her dream, but she had an exit strategy, which was uplifting, in a way.


Anyway, I've talked enough about the actual story in this, which is very well-written and well-conceived. Writer-director Andrea Arnold does a good job with just her second feature film, also not trying to sugarcoat the movie through it's photography. The performances are all superb too. For one thing, I can not believe that this is Katie Jarvis' first acting job. She is superb. In fact, she's beyond superb. Especially in the scene where she finally breaks down and you see black mascara-infused tears running down her face. In that scene, she tells the story of many of us teenagers: our happiness dashed and our sadness wearing its way through the cover we put ourselves under every day. I really do hope that she takes more acting jobs in the future. As for Michael Fassbender...well. He can make you love him, and then completely turn the tables so you hate him. He's charming, but in that risky sort of way. From that moment I saw him walk in shirtless to make a cuppa I had a feeling there was this evil edge to him. Which I liked, at that moment, but at the end, I hated his character. The rest of the cast is really good, considering how ill-experienced they all are, but Jarvis and Fassbender stand out the most.


Fish Tank is exactly the type of arthouse realism flick that you could expect. It doesn't demand much, but it does achieve a lot. And, for once, a teenage girl as the lead role isn't an annoying know-it-all nor a lovelorn depressive. Which is refreshing, even though the movie itself is suffocating.

THE VERDICT: Andrea Arnold has created a perfectly realistic film about a teenager 'coming-of-age', without the usual constraints of the genre. First-timer Katie Jarvis and rising star Michael Fassbender turn in brilliant performances.

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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:25 pm

http://www.liveforfilms.com/2011/06/27/fish-tank-review-by-sarah-louise-dean/

Fish Tank Review by Sarah Louise Dean

Director: Andrea Arnold
Starring: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing.
Score: 9 out of 10

If ever there was a film to make the viewer appreciate his or her own life it is Fish Tank. It’s rubbed-raw portrayal of the hardships of living on an English Council Estate makes it as compelling as it is depressing to watch. Director Andrea Arnold creates an all-too-familiar part of the world with a brittle human core, and peppers it with beguiling moments creating a study on the coarseness of this type of life.

Fish Tank tells the story of 15 year old Mia (Katie Jarvis), a skinny boorish teen who lives with her mother and little sister in a tiny generic council estate flat. The hopelessness of Mia’s daily life is quickly displayed, with swearing, fighting, tracksuits and alcopop drinking all occurring in the film’s first five minutes. The colour palate shows Mia’s world to be dull and depressing, but one that she must live through nonetheless. Mia channels abusive aggression in her movements as she shouts her dissatisfaction at the world, but provocation for her attitude comes in the form of her mother, who treats her with obvious distain, and wants to send her to a school for behavioural difficulties. One day Mia comes across Connor (Michael Fassbender) in her kitchen, her mother’s attractive Irish boyfriend, who immediately shows a different attitude towards her. Connor is calm and doesn’t patronise Mia, when she tells him that she wants to be a hip-hop dancer. When Connor becomes a permanent fixture in the family Mia develops feelings for him that she cannot quite place. But Connor is not all he purports to be and Mia’s behaviour grows increasingly erratic as she struggles to deal with her anger, her desire to change her life and her feelings for a local boy.

Fish Tank is film about how one reacts in the hardest of circumstances, and sometimes it is unremittingly sad to watch Mia’s plight. Not one of the main players is very likeable and Arnold weaves scenes together so cleverly that a sequence of events escalates beyond all control before the viewer can take a breath. Mia is one of the most realistic teenagers I’ve seen on screen, weaving constantly between her desire to lash out and a jaded tiredness at the daily struggle of living in a world that treats her so badly. Later in the film, when Mia’s burgeoning trust in Connor is shattered, she makes choices that would seem irrational on paper, but seem strangely inevitable on screen. The film is difficult to watch, I felt grimy as I took in relentless depictions of violence, loud sex and mental cruelty, but Fish Tank is a statement of cold facts, illustrating how the land lies when money, education and desire for improvement are all scarce. Kierston Wareing makes her root-showing, smoking estate mum Joanne look frighteningly realistic, and the venom with which she speaks to her daughters makes for uncomfortable viewing.

It is easy to see why Fassbender has made such a successful career from performances like the one that he delivers here. Connor’s motivations are difficult to fathom and the viewer’s feelings begin to mirror Mia’s, initially distrusting him, then hoping that he will provide the family’s salvation. When he later turns out to have his own significant flaws, Fassbender still manages to make Connor exude potent feelings, something between extreme guilt and moral superiority. With this subtlety he pulls the viewer under his spell.

Katie Jarvis is impeccable as Mia, full of teenage confusion over her feelings towards Connor as a father figure mingling with her latent sexual tension. She also excels in her range, with solemnity in one scene, veering into brutal violence in others and blissful entrancement when dancing.

But plaudits for Fish Tank should all go to Andrea Arnold, who both wrote and directed the film. The way Arnold manipulates the camera to ethereally catch the twilight briefly resting on a white horse by a slip-road puddle is amazing. Then seconds later she pulls the viewer from this reverie and deep into a violent quaking argument in a tiny flat, thus capturing the horrifying reality of this section of society, without glorifying or condemning it. Watching Fish Tank will never be a pleasant viewing experience, but it is a hugely gratifying one and I highly recommend it.

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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sun Jul 10, 2011 12:35 am

http://thegonzojointfilms.blogspot.com/2011/07/fish-tank.html

Saturday, July 9, 2011
Fish Tank
**** out of ****

The character at the center of the story of "Fish Tank" is a woman-in-trouble. And no, she isn't one of those many movie women who is in trouble and eventually finds a way to solve her worries and quench her needy ways. This is a very distressed, angry woman; and she's younger than most. This makes it all the more outstanding that "Fish Tank" presents itself with a fearless and fierce protagonist. It reminds me of those more classic or perhaps even inferior films that also involve a woman-in-trouble. There are many of them, and quite a few of them are worth seeing. "Winter's Bone" is one I recommend to the art-house; melancholic cinema crowd, although "Fish Tank" has a broader audience, and therefore I could certainly recommend it to just about anyone willing to buy into its story.

But what is the story, exactly? It mostly involves the character, so I'll introduce you to her first. The film's heroine is Mia (Katie Jarvis), an angry, depressed, and isolated teenage girl. She lives in a broken community, within a house that is even more broken. Her mother isn't particularly attentive unless she's bickering at her for not being the ideal daughter, and her little kid sister doesn't have an amazing relationship with her either; although it's not all bad. Suffice to say, things aren't looking to good for the family, the house, or life in general. Right there, you know that "Fish Tank" is going to be an often times bleak and depressing film, but one that is, on first sight, directed in art-house style, and that gives it many paths to go on.

Finally, the path that "Fish Tank" chooses is that of the better and even masterful art-house films. It takes a slightly positive turn, as a story, when Mia's mother gets a new boyfriend (Michael Fassbender). The new boyfriend's name is Colin, and he is a handsome, rather kindly man. He takes an immediate liking to Mia; a liking that is almost frighteningly serious. It could lead to something deeper. But I'll leave it up to you to discover if it actually does.

A lot of the film involves Mia talking to and about her mother's new man, since she too likes him, just a little bit. She stills yells at him, but it's more-so for attention than just out of anger. Then there's the little sub-plot of the film involving that one precious dream that Mia holds on to throughout. That dream is to become a hip-hop dancer. To train for her possible future, she does indeed listen to hip-hop, and she also dances to it. But not rather well.

Mia is the kind of character that has the burdens of her world on her shoulders. It's almost as if her God, if there is a God in this story, is burdening her out of pleasure; to see if she gives up in the end. But she does not; Mia is a rather strong heroine, for a change. She's also oddly likable, even if she shouts, swears, drinks, and makes bad choices a lot. There is a great scene near the beginning of the film where she tries to free a chained-up horse, only to attract attention from its trashy captors. This scene was great because I think it humanizes and inspires sympathy for the character, as if the sheer brilliance of the film wasn't enough to do so in the first place.


I hear that first-time, and hopefully not last-time actress Katie Jarvis was discovered while arguing with a boyfriend. I'm glad she was discovered, because she plays the part of Mia flawlessly. Many young women probably could have nailed it, but who cares? Jarvis is fierce, relentless, and believable. And much, much more than merely an entertaining or satisfying performer. This is a performance that deserves acclaim, and all the awards that it can possibly get.

The film is gritty and rich with raw realism, and that's how I like it; there would have been no other way to make it work. A lot of credit does indeed go to its performer, Katie Jarvis, but some of it also goes to its director and writer; Andrea Arnold. I admired how the director was able to elevate her film beyond standard art-house fare. It really is something else; a taut, well-made drama that ranks amongst one of the best for its year. Fine dramas, such as this one, are scarce; so cherishing the good and even great ones is a damn good idea. Do yourself a favor and see this emotional knock-out of a movie. I wouldn't call it a gem, but I would call it something genuinely precious. And that, my friends, is all it really needs to be.

Posted by Ryan J. Marshall at 7:31 PM

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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Fri Jul 15, 2011 3:20 pm

http://eddieraysmoviereviews.wordpress.com/2011/07/15/fish-tank-or-girls-are-cooler-in-essex-when-they-look-like-krista-carothers-my-f@&#$%!-review/

“Fish Tank” or “Girls Are Cooler in Essex When They Look Like Krista Carothers” – my f@&#$%! review

I am a little slow but I was told to watch “Fish Tank” (2009) by my friend Kevin Vickery. OK so the movie is about this 15-year-old girl named Mia (Katie Jarvis) who looks like my good friend Krista Carothers. Mia lives in Essex Estate over in England, and wants to be a hip hop dancer, but I think she is poor. She lives with her mom and little sister and walks the streets f#%@#&! with people. Mia ain’t a bad girl she is trying to find s$#! to do. Hell I would hang out with her she is pretty cool. She even tries to set this horse free who looks sick. Later Michael Fassbender starts dating her mom, and Mia likes him too, and he is a pretty good guy and takes them all out to lakes and s$#!. Mia starts flirting with him because he is Michael Fassbender and eventually they have quick sex (less than 5 minutes). He feels bad about it because she is 15 years old and breaks up with her mom and splits. Michael you can’t bang a 15-year-old you f@&#$%! perv. Ok I really liked this movie a lot, and I thought Katie Jarvis did an awesome job playing Mia and I would want to hang out with and do hip hop moves with her all day. The film is shot sort of like a documentary so you really feel part of her life and it will suck you in or it may just be because I thought it was an English version of my friend Krista life the whole time. Anyway if you wanna see a cool a movie about a cool girl from Essex who curses a lot, head butts other girls, pisses on people’s carpets, and dances to hip hop then this movie is for you.

The Trailer:

The Facts:

A. I want to go to Essex State, even though I think it was supposed to be poor people.

B. I want to Hip Hop dance now. Here is Mia Hip Hop dancing. Also why do they wear a lot of sweat pants over there.

C. I understand this girl and her pain and being pissed off. American teen girl movies are f@&#$%! stupid, this one makes sense to me.

D. Here is a pic of Mia.

E. Her mom likes to Hip Hop dance, and tell her daughter to shut the f&#! up too.

F. Here is a pic of me and Krista Carothers. See she kinda of does look like MIA.

G. Here is Krista Hip Hop dancing.

H. Here is Krista in front of a green screen, she could have played this part.

I. I want to go and set horses free with her.

J. Don’t sleep with underaged people, that is nasty and gross, and you will go to f@&#$%! jail bitch.

K. The mom was dancing to this song one day. Amazing.

L. I also like looking at real fish tanks.

M. Michael is a really good actor. He just makes sense in movies and on film.

N. Go rent this movie for something a little different and interesting to watch. I started it and was only going to watch half of it and go to bed but I watch the whole movie non stop.

This entry was posted on July 15, 2011 at 4:52 pm

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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 4:48 am

http://yinishi.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/fish-tank-2009/

Fish Tank (2009)
Posted by y. shi in Movies, Reviews and tagged with Fish Tank, Katie Jarvis, Kierston Wareing, Michael Fassbender August 29, 2011

Images from this movie have been circulating around the internet lately, thanks to society’s new collective crush on Michael Fassbender. Curious, I looked it up on Netflix and noticed that it was on Instant Watch, as well as part of the Criterion Collection. I thought, why not?

Fish Tank, as it turns out, follows your basic troubled teenager story trajectory, a là Ghost World or The Catcher in the Rye. A rude sexual awakening is in store for Mia, a turbulent fifteen year old girl from a lower class British family. Mia lives with her frequently drunk mother–if people had to get licenses before having kids, this woman would have been denied–and a potty-mouthed little sister. Their family situation is, to put it gently, an awful lot for one teenage girl to navigate. When her mother brings her new boyfriend Conner to the house, s$#! goes emphatically down.

Blunt visual cues communicate a stark disconnect between Mia and her surroundings. To wit, while everyone else is learning to play the sex game, Mia remains oblivious. The film is peppered with images that highlight this contrast. A couple of them stood out to me in particular:

The movie opens with Mia on the phone. She is trying to call one of her friends, who has lately started to ignore her calls. Mia eventually finds the friend with a couple of other teenage girls. A few shirtless boy-men watch from the side, gawking. Why the interest? The girls, including Mia’s ex-fried, are performing a suggestive dance, their clothes amateurishly refashioned to reveal skin. By contrast, Mia wears baggy sweatclothes for the duration of the movie, and her dance of choice is not exotic, but hip hop. As her mother’s boyfriend puts it, “You dance like a black.”
Mia’s younger sister, who can’t be older than ten, has a vocabulary that would put Sarah Silverman to shame. I think the word “cuntface” is thrown out at some point. At any rate, this younger sister is shown during one scene watching television with a friend of approximately the same age. The friend is wearing skank makeup and clothes styled for someone at least ten years older (these kids, remember, are elementary-age). The child carries herself in a world-weary way, and is smoking a cigarette. It is as though sex were a secret currency that everyone, including a kid, understands–everyone, that is, but Mia.
The interactions between Mia and Connor are incredibly sexually-charged. But you could have figured that out from the plot summary, right?

If Fish Tank can be a little over the top with its stark and hypersensitive portrayal of growing up, the story at least has some valuable symbols. It is Mia versus the World, as long as we accept that the world is a gritty place where lies are the only currency. In a sense, dishonesty is a more potent theme than even sexuality. The lies that people tell are sometimes unforgivable, like the ones that hurt other people, like the one that Connor hides behind. More often than not, however, the lies are benign, taking the form of costumes that young girls puts on to appear sexier than their bodies would betray. Mia’s weakness is that she cannot recognize the specter for what it is.

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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Thu Mar 01, 2012 2:43 am

andyfreeds:

The 2012 Hundred Movie Challenge

13. Fish Tank

Directed by: Andrea Arnold

Starring: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender

“She was 16…it was her time.”

Oh man, I’m breaking all my rules already. I technically already saw this movie, last year. I knew I slept through some of it so I figured that I needed to re-watch it, especially since the beginning and the ending were so good. Turns out I missed a lot more than I thought- practically the entire middle section! So it’s good I sat down for this one again. From now on I may include movies I’ve already seen- but I’ll try to make sure it’s just movies that I felt like I needed to see again to understand a little better.

This movie is SO good. It concerns a teenage girl named Mia, volatile and hot tempered, living with her mom and little sister in a housing project in East London. Mia is angry. Take the typical resistance and hostility of a teenager and add poverty, a mom who ditches them to go drink and sleep around, and you know, just being a girl. The film’s title serves as an apt metaphor for her life. She’s stuck to a confined world, always looking out from her high rise window, with the eyes of an indifferent world passing by. At the same time it’s clear she wouldn’t know what to do with herself if she ever got out- how could she?

Suddenly, grasping another world doesn’t seem so impossible when her mother brings home a dangerously sexy man from the bar named Connor, played to a perfectly typecasted creepiness by Michael Fassbender (whose been in four or five of my favorite movies of the last few years). Connor and Mia take to each other instantly. What she sees in him comes from a few places, but it’s clear: a sudden stand in for a never mentioned (and likely never known) father, a cultured piece of a world outside the projects, and of course, a walking projection of sexual coming of age tension. What exactly Mia is to Connor, is not known exactly at first.

One great thing about Mia, is that through all the dreariness, she has an intense passion for life that seems to equal the amount she dreads every day’s existence. It’s the same energy that propels her to dream of a new life for herself…and it all comes out through her affinity for dancing and hip hop. She’s got great and authentic taste, too- her soundtrack consists of a lot of the classics (maybe some of the director’s favorites?), like Eric B. & Rakim, Nas, Gang Starr. She spends hours and hours with her headphones on, practicing her dance moves in an empty room with big windows, overlooking miles and miles of dreary english urban sprawl. Not long into the movie, she finds a flier advertising a club looking for “female dancers,” and this audition becomes a catalyst for Mia to get her act in a solid place.

Music also plays a big role in Connor’s life and the life of Mia’s mom, Joanne, played with terrible pity by Kierston Wareing. In fact the two most telling moments of the film are defined by songs: “California Dreamin’” as covered by Bobby Womack, and “Life’s A Bitch” by Nas, which occupy the focus of the scenes responsible for communicating the emotional weight of the film. The viewer gets everything they need to know simply by observing how the characters’ body language when getting lost in the song at hand. These are people who have few words in their arsenal to express themselves: the bookends of beauty and darkness are what they have instead, where manipulation, lies, love and longing, art, music and truth all lie.

In the end, it’s a movie about boundaries and perceptions. How those perceptions can be so honest and innocent, and so so wrong. How families can in some ways have no boundaries, yet in other ways nothing but. It’s also just about how people choose between a search for meaning, or a search for distraction, in every day life: and how most of us actually do both.

A simply gorgeous movie, that tears you down and lifts you up at the same time.

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