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Fish Tank Reviews part 2

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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Fri Mar 04, 2011 10:31 pm

http://bunchedundies.blogspot.com/2011/03/fish-tank-2009.html

Friday, March 4, 2011
Fish Tank (2009)**

This BAFTA winner from writer/director Andrea Arnold is an irritable, gritty tale of teen angst. So gritty in fact, during the screening I could feel actual flecks of dirt settling on my head. The story is all about young Mia (Katie Jarvis), an aimless15 year-old growing up near grimy Tilsbury, Essex. She lives with her mouthy little sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths) and her mom Joanne (Kirsten Wareing), a fading party girl who has never let childrearing interfere with her quest for a good time. The rough-hewn family shares an untidy apartment in a high rise so seedy and shabby you half expect Helen Mirren to squeal into the driveway any second, SWAT team in tow.

It’s a safe bet Arnold has seen a few films by the Dardenne Brothers, and she faithfully copies their style with bouncy shots of Mia trudging through all manner of smelly bleakness. During one of her slag-heap constitutionals, Mia comes upon an unusual sight; a large gray horse chained up near a weedy array of squatter trailers. She becomes obsessed with freeing the beast, and her efforts nearly get her raped by a gang of passing hooligans. Arnold is trying really hard to make a point here about Mia’s inability to think things through and truly understand the consequences of her decisions. While freeing the horse may seem like a heroic gesture, the animal would likely starve amid Tilbury’s metalwork shops and industrial plants.

Mia’s one ambition in life, to be a background dancer in music videos, seems as poorly conceived as her notions of animal rescue. In fact, dancing is a recurrent motif here, as Arnold slips in scenes of various characters engaged in booty shaking whenever the proceedings get a bit stale. Perhaps she is equating an interest in dancing with lack of awareness and mental acuity. But, like most of her scatter-shot metaphors, it hard to tell where Arnold actually stands on the issue.

When Mom brings home a studly hunk named Connor (Michael Fassbender), the household is turned into further chaos as Mia and Joanne begin to compete for his sleazy attentions. Connor works as a security guard at a Brit version of Home Depot, where he insures the plywood and roofing shingles remain unmolested. He exercises no such vigilance in his private life however and soon Connor’s insatiable appetites cause a huge mess that renders Mia even more of a confused jumble. In the film’s shocking climax, Mia is finally confronted with the notion of personal responsibility, and decides not to become just another predator of the weak.

The hints at Mia’s redemption are Arnold’s best work in the entire film. We see Mia begin to leave childish things behind and seek out the company of kind-hearted friend Billy (Harry Treadway). These scenes flow with a grace and subtlety oddly missing from the rest of the film. Like the hip hop music that defines Mia’s life, the majority of Fish Tank is so in-your-face it oversells its own grungy reality. In the early going, the film comes very close to shutting audiences out entirely, and there are temptations aplenty to simply eject the disc and move on. When directors like Michael Haneke and the Dardennes depict the barren reality of the downtrodden, there’s a spellbinding authenticity lurking underneath. The bulk of Arnold’s film just seems like a potty-mouthed TV movie tarted up in arty clothes. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go wash that film right out of my hair.
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Fri Mar 04, 2011 10:33 pm

http://gogorama.blogspot.com/2011/03/fish-tank.html

Friday, March 04, 2011
Fish Tank

Fish Tank, a 2009 film by Andrea Arnold, has a familiar template. The misunderstood teen, which goes back to at least Francois Truffaut's Antoine Doinel and surely farther back, is on furious display here. We meet 15-year-old Mia (Katie Jarvis), and in the first few minutes of the film she gets in a fight with some other girls (head-butting one into a broken nose), swills booze from a liter bottle, and gets in a profanity-laced argument with her mother (Kierston Waering).

I was resistant to the film at first, finding that it was loading things too heavily. Waering is a monstrous mother who has almost no sympathetic qualities, and when Jarvis spots a horse and tries to free it I felt hit over the head by the metaphor. But eventually I started to like both Mia and the film.

The central plot point of the film is the relationship between Mia and her mother's latest boyfriend (Michael Fassbender), who tries to befriend Jarvis and her younger sister. He takes them on an outing and lends his videocamera to Jarvis for use in a dance audition. As viewers we can see where this all going, but the film still takes an interesting time in getting there. Following the inevitable seduction, Jarvis finds something out about Fassbender and takes revenge, in a scene that is both fraught with peril and melodrama. I wasn't sure to what extremes Arnold would take her protagonist, and the result was pretty searing.

Jarvis is a nonprofessional who was discovered arguing with her boyfriend at a train station. She's in every scene, often followed by a tracking camera as she's in motion, almost trying to run out of the frame. It's a gutsy, emotionally raw performance. I have no idea if Jarvis has any future in the profession (to date it's her only film), but she's mesmerizing.

Fassbender, an actor on the rise (I predict he'll be Oscar-nominated within a year or two) has a tough role and pulls it off with aplomb. He has to be both likable and slimy, and is both in spades.

The film is set in Essex, which seems to be a part of England that no tourists go to. Jarvis lives in a kind of lower-middle-class squalor that is familiar to films of this miserabilist bent. There's an unnerving scene of the younger sister smoking and drinking, and the complete lack of parental attention that Waering gives her children is gut-wrenching.

A big part of the film is its music. Jarvis and her friends are all into hip-hop, and she likes to go into an abandoned apartment where she practices her moves, complete with urban shrugs. Two songs resonate: Bobby Womack's cover version of "California Dreamin'," which links Jarvis and Fassbender, and then the Nas' "Life's a Bitch and Then You Die," which calls out over the closing credits like a cry for help.

posted by Jackrabbit Slim @ 6:54 AM
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sat Mar 05, 2011 3:43 pm

http://tobogganeer.wordpress.com/2011/03/05/lifes-a-bitch-and-then-you-die/

life’s a bitch and then you die
March 5, 2011, 3:27 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Fish Tank = Such a viscerally pleasurable watch. Effortless. A reminder of film’s affinity to characters in crisis. Amazing characterization, and something wonderful about its portrayal of familial relationships: nothing’s a given, nothing’s sentimental, and the intimate/emotional moments feel fresh and real, exciting to watch. Ultimately the film is stellar because it expertly portrays the tightrope-walk of its protagonist’s relationship to her world: everything is precarious, nothing is statement. And we’re invited in to feel it with her. I haven’t seen production design this spot-on in quite some time.

And Michael Fassbender is just one of those actors that takes any film up three notches.
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sat Mar 05, 2011 3:45 pm

http://www.cinemaviewfinder.com/2011/03/blu-ray-review-three-women-on-verge.html

Saturday, March 5, 2011
Blu-ray Review: Three Women on the Verge...
by Tony Dayoub

Three recent Criterion Blu-ray releases—two new to the label, one reissue—focus on female protagonists on the cusp of change. For one, a mature woman of some importance, this change shakes her most fundamental beliefs, allowing her a brief moment of happiness before ending with a gradual descent into madness. For another, it is the beginning of an attunement to her spiritual life, and her connection to another woman hundreds of miles away. And for the youngest woman, trying to make the best out of her dismal surroundings, any change can only be a positive one.

It is with her that we begin, and her name is Mia. Fish Tank (2009) follows 15-year-old Mia (Katie Jarvis) through her day-to-day existence in the housing projects of Essex. As with many girls her age, she is dealing with her emerging sexuality, the eroding relationship between her young, competitive mother, Joanne (Kierston Wareing), and a growing realization that her sad environment is not expansive enough to hold all of her ambitions. At this crucial moment comes a dangerously handsome boyfriend of mum's, Connor (Michael Fassbender), a dangerously questionable catalyst in Mia's coming of age.

Andrea Arnold directs the film from the inside, giving us Mia's perspective as if she were the metaphorical fish trapped in the tank looking out at the big, wide world inaccessible to her (Jarvis is in every scene). It is a nice change from other realist films which futilely try to impart insight about their subject with an impartial eye, as if one were viewing microbes in a petri dish. No, Arnold's camera is tied to Jarvis' movements throughout her limiting neighborhood, wisely forgoing the cliche, desaturated aesthetic one usually gets in these types of films. Mia's world is bright enough, and comfortable enough to dissuade the teen from escaping, at least initially.

The introduction of Connor complicates things. The alluring man appeals to Mia on two levels, as father figure and object of desire. Making matters worse is the dawning sense that the mysterious Connor has a secret life he is avoiding, one which prods him to come to Mia's immature mum for a level of affection she is incapable of offering. It's a setup rife with pitfalls for the appealing Connor, as well as the vulnerable Mia, leading to a collision between the two that, though unsavory, is handled quite sensitively by Arnold.
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sun Mar 06, 2011 8:16 pm

http://chazzw.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/fish-tank-uk-2009-dvd/

March 6, 2011 · 5:52 pm
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Fish Tank ~ (UK, 2009) ~ DVD

15-year old Mia will take not s$#! from anyone. She is as likely to verbally attack before she is dissed, than not. This is her defense mechanism. This has gotten her into trouble, as she awaits for an assignment to a school for troubled teens. Her mother, not a very good mom in any case, just can’t handle her any longer.

Along about this time her mom’s new boyfriend decides to move in. He’s good with the kids, and Mia finds herself drawn to him. He encourages her in her (limited) ambitions. As tough as Mia appears, she has soft spots in her soul for those that seem to be abused. This includes animals. When she sees a white, emaciated horse chained to a granite post, she tries to break the chain and free the horse. This leads to a near gang rape.

Mia is played by an untested, amateur that director Andrea Arnold discovered hanging out on a train platform. Of course, what else. Katie Jarvis has a wild, feral screen presence and fills the role with energy and vulnerability. Michael Fassbender, who plays the mom’s boyfriend, is shown here in a purposefully enigmatic role. Is he the savior father figure that Mia so desperately needs, or is he an abusive and philandering predator?

There is an interlude in the film where it seems that all will be redeemed, as the foursome take a trip to a river in the country. On the way, Mia rides in the back seat with her eyes closed, nodding her head to Connor’s”favorite all-time” song: A Bobby Womack rendition of a classic soul piece. Mia and Connor catch a fish bare handed. Connor again encourages Mia to enter the dance auditions which she hopes is her way out. It turns out to be just an audition for strippers.

Andrea Arnolds film is raw, and tough offering only rare glimmers of hope. One of which Mia takes. Maybe it will be her salvation. Or maybe she’ll just be following in her mother’s footsteps.
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Mon Mar 07, 2011 5:36 pm

http://www.macguffinpodcast.com/macguffin-spotlight/bird-watching-andrea-arnolds-fish-tank/

Bird Watching – Andrea Arnold’s “Fish Tank”
Date: Mon, 7 Mar, 2011 at 10:07 AM | Author: Brandi Sperry | Category: Bird Watching, MacGuffin Content, MacGuffin Spotlight

The protagonist of the 2009 indie drama Fish Tank radiates anger. Mia is 15, lives in a working class area of Essex with her mother (drinks too much, spouts hate) and little sister (foul-mouthed beyond her eleven or so years), and seems to have lost any childhood friendships she might have once had. She stalks the area surrounding her apartment complex, lashing out at anyone in her path. In a vacant flat, she’s made a kind of hideaway, where she throws some of that anger into the one thing she seems to like: hip-hop dance. She practices a lot.

We learn all this in the first five or six minutes of the film. By the end of the sequence, I was totally invested in Mia. She’s not an easy character to be around, and while her circumstances make her rage understandable, it doesn’t excuse the way she treats other people. But she entrances in her own way, and I was fascinated to see what she would do next. And I rooted for her. I felt protective of her. No one should be written off at the age of 15. I remember the psychic pain of being a teenage girl—some cry, some purge, some channel everything into achievement. Some act like Mia.

This was the actress Katie Jarvis’s first film. I’ve read that she was spotted by a casting assistant while having a fight with her boyfriend at a train station, and subsequently recruited. Her performance is authentic and raw and fairly amazing. If she wants this to be her career, I sincerely hope she can find more roles that match her.

Mia’s mother, Joanne (Kierston Wareing) begins seeing a handsome man named Connor, played by the recently-quite-famous Michael Fassbender. His first encounter with Mia is him wandering shirtless into the kitchen after spending the night, catching her off guard as she’s testing a dance move in front of a music video, in pajamas and waiting for water to boil. She snaps from sincerely intent on what she was doing to defensive shoulder-shrugging and quip-making, with maybe one second of embarrassment visible before it’s shoved away. (Jarvis—I’m telling you.) They banter a bit. Maybe Connor seems different from the kind of guy Mom usually brings home. We don’t really know, but we can infer a bit.

Connor’s relationship with the family seems to become serious rather quickly. He’s nice to them. Little sis kind of adores him; Mom certainly does. Mia lets her wariness fall away a few times, and though it always springs back, we see moments of real connection brewing. We also see moments that carry a note of warning. Looks that last too long. Over-familiarity. Then, when Connor takes everyone on a drive to the country and they have a bit of an adventure catching a fish, we see a little real joy in Mia, and can no longer ignore the danger lurking. This is not a girl who often gets to have new experiences. The promise of that could lead her somewhere dark.

I’ll not say much more about where the film goes from there. Some turns are not at all surprising, and we dread their arrival; others are unpredictable and anxiety-inducing. There are parts that are hard to watch. Overall, though, even as we go to unhappy places, the film doesn’t convey a message of hopelessness. Mia is expressive and clever under her intense anger, and in one particular scene near the film’s close, where a situation turns out not to be what she expected, she shows that she’s become more savvy about how to navigate her world and recognize what people might want from her that she shouldn’t have to give. The environment of the film feels real, and while that means it is bleak in a lot of ways, we’re not being preached to or manipulated within that. The nuance and possibility that are ever-present set this film apart from a lot of similarly-themed indie dramas. There are also individual scenes that are so entirely unique and odd, but springing from such a place of realism, that they make anything you might term “quirky” pale in comparison…and I like quirky movie scenes.

In many ways this is a coming of age film, and in my opinion good coming of age films for female characters are still too rare and very welcome. But Fish Tank stands a little off to the side of other films in the genre. Without the standard best friend to confide in for beneficial exposition, we’re actually left in the dark about how much “coming-of” Mia has already done. And while we know she’s learned something, the film’s ending is hardly concrete about where she’s headed. It’s refreshing, actually, to see a film acknowledge that while a few summer weeks can be very significant in life of a young person, they probably won’t change everything forever.

Andrea Arnold, already an Oscar winner for her 2003 short film Wasp, solidified a name for herself as a filmmaker to watch with Fish Tank, which she both wrote and directed. It won a number of awards, including the Jury Prize at Cannes, a BAFTA for Outstanding British Film, and a British Independent Film Award for Best Director. The film was released last month on DVD and Blu-ray as a part of the Criterion Collection, a great accomplishment for any filmmaker, but particularly significant for a female filmmaker, as they are currently under-represented in the collection. The Criterion edition includes among its extras Wasp and two other short films by Arnold. I urge you to check it out.
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Tue Mar 08, 2011 8:11 pm

http://danielmontgomery.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/fish-tank/

“Fish Tank” – Catch and release
Filed under: 3.5 stars, Film Reviews by Daniel Montgomery — Leave a comment
March 8, 2011

Dir. Andrea Arnold
(2010, Not Rated, 122 min)
★ ★ ★ ½

Fish Tank succeeds on the strength of two fine performances by Katie Jarvis and Michael Fassbender and the writing and directing of Andrea Arnold. Jarvis plays Mia, a rebellious fifteen-year-old girl living in low-income housing with her mother Joanne (Kierston Wareing) and little sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths), and Fassbender plays Joanne’s new boyfriend, Connor, a charming Irishman who works as a security guard at a hardware store. When Connor first encounters Mia one morning, he’s naked to the waist, having clearly spent the night, and watches her while she dances to a hip-hop music video on TV. “You dance like a black,” he tells her. He means that as a compliment.

Michael Fassbender, as Connor
There’s something not quite right about his relationship with Mia, but Arnold doesn’t play the tension between them as predatory. Rather, she captures their uneasy push-and-pull dynamic with subtle insight. There’s a clear sexual component, but at first it comes mostly from Mia, who sees Connor as a way to defeat her mother, and she’s such a bad mother that sometimes we can’t help but root for Mia to succeed. Joanne is the kind of caregiver who will cruelly tell her daughter that she almost had her aborted, as if describing a missed opportunity. Deciding Mia has a discipline problem and is too much to handle (Mia learned from the best), Joanne arranges to send her away to a boarding school that will relieve her of the inconvenience of being a parent.

What begins for Mia as a game of one-upmanship with her mother turns into an adolescent crush. She wants Connor, and he encourages her crush in ways that make us uneasy, but Fassbender’s performance is nuanced in a way that avoids making Connor strictly a villain. There’s an air of mystery to him; he’s alluring and sinister at the same time, genuinely fond of Mia, but maybe a little too fond, keeping just enough distance to pique her interest but not enough to maintain appropriate boundaries. And Mia, who is a little like Lisbeth Salander except without the dragon tattoo, is brittle but strong-willed, naïve but not a victim.

After their relationship comes to a head in a remarkably charged scene, there’s a discovery that comes as a surprise to Mia, but maybe not the audience, and then Mia makes an impulsive decision that surprises everyone, possibly even herself. But the director doesn’t seem interested in good or bad; she observes, compassionately and without judgment, who Mia is and what such treatment from those around her has made of her in her scant fifteen years. Above all Fish Tank is about disillusionment; Mia has had to grow up fast, but she still has a lot to learn.
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Thu Mar 10, 2011 4:09 am

http://thomas4cinema.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/fish-tank-andrea-arnold-2010/

Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold 2010)

* March 10, 2011 – 10:52 am

I have now seen two films by Andrea Arnold, and I am very happy about that fact. It’s as easy as that: with a film-maker like her, you will find flaws and deficits in all her work, and you will see how the confinements of low-budget film-making affect the overall product. But all that does not matter, because this is so much more interesting and inspiring and thrilling than whatever else you get from the shelve of fancy polished movie-making.

Red Road was set in the gritty suburbs of Glasgow, and if you thought that was bleak, then wait until you see the Essex area where “Fish Tank” plays out. There is so much to see: a desolate family with a single mother, two teenage daughters (the older of which is our film’s heroine, played by the amazing Kate Jarvis), a new boyfriend who is just too gorgeous and great and perfect to be true (no wonder, as he is played by gorgeous and great and perfect Michael Fassbender). There is a permanent disruption of expectations, not just for the viewer, who almost never gets what would be convention to give him next (a man follows a girl through across a field because she has been massively messing with his life, he is chasing her, he reaches her, and then…. ), but also for the characters, who start obvious lines of action, but halfway through realize that something is a better idea before you actually start doing it: Release a horse from captivity? Abduct a child? Real people will realize that it is easy to follow your impulse on this, but not easy at all to go through with it.

And it is the degree of reality, sad reality at times, that makes the film so interesting: the lead character has one dream, and that is to dance. With all her efforts and all her practice what she can achieve with this is to get invited to a hanky-panky dance parlor. That’s all, there is no hope beyond that, because she clearly does not have too much do offer. But different people have to work with different levels of hope and perspectives, and this one is all she has. The only alternative she has after she and everybody else produced a real mess, with not many exist options, is to reset her whole existence, and see whether a clean slate will by chance bring about some better cards.

I was thinking: if anybody wants to learn about the difference between US and European approaches to film-making, just watch how the life and times of a teenage girls is depicted in “Fish Tank” and in “Juno”. You will probably learn all there is to learn if you watch hard enough.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/fish_tank/
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:40 pm

http://bangonamilli.blogspot.com/2011/03/recently-watched-fish-tank.html

Thursday, March 10, 2011
Recently Watched: Fish Tank

"Fish Tank" is a slice of what it's like to live in Essex, England. All the kids are "street," listening to American hip hop, dancing in the street, swearing etc. A really young girl uses the "c" word frequently, but hey they are working class, riiiight!? Her older sister, who is played by Katie Jarvis takes the lead role. Jarvis was discovered by the director when she was having a fight with her boyfriend at a train station. I can see why she was chosen. She plays teenage aggression quite naturally.

The film is a coming of age story of sorts. Jarvis is living in a single parent home with her younger sister and within the first few minutes of the film it's understood that she has some behavior issues. Her mom isn't very supportive and talks down about her. Enter Michael Fassbender, her mothers new boyfriend. He takes interest in the kids and a bond starts to form. A series of kind of awkward sexual events (she hears/sees her mom and Fassbender together, he
spanks her when they are rough housing and she dances for him..) until it all builds up, blows up and falls apart. I think the relationships in the movie are pretty human, Fassbender is no good guy savior role... he comes in with his own problems and the turn out is surprising.

Posted by Katie K
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:55 pm

http://kathleencfennessy.blogspot.com/2011/03/movie-of-month-part-26-i-recently.html

Thursday, March 10, 2011
Movie of the Month:Part 26

I recently reviewed the following DVD for Video Librarian, and thought the results were worth sharing.

FISH TANK - The Criterion Collection [****]
(Andrea Arnold, UK, 2009, 122 mins.)

Britain's Andrea Arnold won a best live-action Oscar for the
2003 short film Wasp, but she takes her intimate technique to a
whole new level with Fish Tank. Newcomer Katie Jarvis plays
15-year-old Mia, who lives in the projects of Essex with her trash-
talking sister and party-girl mother, Joanne (Ken Loach veteran
Kierston Waering). It isn't an easy life, but she finds release by
dancing to hip-hop, which she hopes to do professionally.

Around the time Joanne starts spending time with charming Irish
immigrant Connor (Michael Fassbender in an effortlessly se-
ductive performance), Mia becomes fixated on a white horse who
spends its days chained to an empty lot. Whether she recognizes
the broken-down beast as a kindred spirit or not--it recalls Bres-
son's Balthazar--Mia's life isn't much different. With a lack of ed-
ucation and opportunity, she may never escape the slums.

Desperate for affection, she flirts with Connor, who flirts back,
innocently at first. She pushes further and so does he, until the
night he crosses a line. Soon, and in an entirely different way, she
becomes as obsessed with the man as the horse, but the danger
she faces in trying to free the creature is nothing compared to
the danger she represents in trying to punish the man.

Fish Tank begins as a social-realist character study before Ar-
nold shifts gears into thriller territory. In the untrained Jarvis's
hands, Mia remains sympathetic even as she gives in to her bas-
er instincts, but the director doesn't withhold hope, and her film-
making is looser and sexier than in her grim, if gripping debut,
Red Road. Supplements include interviews with Waering (vi-
deo) and Fassbender (audio only), three shorts (Milk, Dog, and
Wasp), and an essay by Ian Christie. Highest recommendation.
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:07 pm

http://www.redletterprints.com/2011/03/film-fish-tank-2009.html

3.10.2011

Film: Fish Tank (2009)

Remember that time you dreamed about becoming a break dancer but there was your mom bringing you back down to reality, cigarette in hand and a slap to the face. No? Me neither. It's hard out there for a rough-neck chick... a project chick. Mia dreams of getting out of the slag heap that is her Essex, England housing community and a Mum who looks like her sister when she's not passed out drunk. Mia wears tracksuits and wife-beaters, starts fights with random people and probably hasn't smiled since birth. At 15 her life is mainly just different shades of pissed off until Connor comes to stay. Connor is her mother's boyfriend (played devastatingly by Michael Fassbender) who can charm wallpaper off walls with ease and probably blindfolded. Mia is in trouble.

Director Andrea Arnold (Red Road) creates another complicit world of small town poverty and housing projects intermixed by the dying natural world. Shots of birds and the setting sun co-mingling beautifully with the trash heaps and junkyards. There are no corsets and manners here and you'll need the captions to understand what everyone is saying. Delicately woven in the finest traditions of Susanne Bier and Tim Roth, there is no score and very few static camera set ups. Arnold is clearly interested in showing, not telling.

See it. ****
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Thu Mar 10, 2011 10:00 pm

http://battleshippretension.com/?p=1732

Beauty, by Daniel Bergamini

10 Mar

Since I began writing films reviews, I have had a constant feeling in the back of my head that I was not critical enough. Too often I have had such a visceral joy after seeing a film that I was unable to see the faults within, leaving the review all too positive. As I recently decided I wanted to change that, I kept it in mind as I watched Andrea Arnold’s sophomore effort, Fish Tank. While I wanted to be able to write a more critical review, Arnold’s film, unfortunately, only gave me one more reason to write a positive review.

The film tells the story of a poor teenage girl, Mia, living in an Essex council estate with her single mother and little sister. To try to summarize the plot would simply be listing events in an order which would make the film seem tired and boring. The film is anything but that. The energy and beauty that Arnold is able to capture, leaves the audience both emotionally engaged and guessing where the film will go next. The story has been told many times before, yet this film feels entirely fresh.

As we first meet Mia, played by newcomer Katie Jarvis, we see a girl who feels entirely disconnected from the world. The few moments of joy come from secretly practicing dance in an empty flat. Her mother is more interested in her friends and partying than she is with her kids, who as we see, are in desperate need of attention. The film would simply not work without Katie Jarvis, who as the story goes, was cast when the director saw her in a screaming match with her boyfriend. The realism she is able to bring to the screen makes the film feel authentic.

It seems Mia’s life will never change, but when her mother brings home a new boyfriend, Connor, played brilliantly by Michael Fassbender, things seem to change. Connor and Mia appear to instantly connect, and Mia begins to open up. The interesting part of the film is not where the film goes, but how it gets there. The way characters react to certain situations is uniquely real, we may have seen these situations before, just not these reactions or consequences.

Too often, coming-of-age films set in poor or rural areas, use there surroundings as excuses for ignoring the cinematography and look of the film. Arnold’s eye for finding beauty within the most awful of situations is outstanding. From a visual stand-point, it is impossible to take your eyes off the screen. At first the choice of shooting the film in 4:3 ratio is distracting and slightly off putting, however once you become accustomed to this change, the choice is quite brilliant. The feeling of claustrophobia begins to mount as the suspense ramps up, and the aspect ratio has a large part in this.

It seems that a large percentage of my favorite filmmakers are the ones that are able to take the ugliest aspects of life and find beauty in them. That isn’t to say that they are making light of bad situations, but rather they can capture what is naturally beautiful about any location or situation. Like David Gordon Green and Lynne Ramsay before her, Andrea Arnold has become one of the few filmmakers who is able to capture such beauty. Fish Tank is a film that reminds me of why I write about film and love it more than any other art form. My goal may have been to be more critical of film, but Fish Tank proves that there are certain films that deserve only high praise.
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sat Mar 12, 2011 1:07 am

http://instantviewfilmfestival.blogspot.com/2011/03/spotlight-fish-tank-andrea-arnold-2009.html

Friday, March 11, 2011
Spotlight: Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold, 2009)
Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold, UK, 2009, 122 minutes)

Netflix: The life of hot-tempered teen outcast Mia (Katie Jarvis) takes an unexpected turn when her mother, Joanne (Kierston Wareing), brings home a handsome and mysterious boyfriend named Connor (Michael Fassbender), who pledges to bring sweeping positive changes to the household. British writer-director Andrea Arnold's sophomore feature won Best British Film at the 2010 BAFTAs. Netflix link.

Director Andrea Arnold has had a great deal of success on the international film festival circuit after leaving her earlier career as a presenter on the children's television show No. 73. Her short film, Wasp (2003) won a prize at the Sundance Film Festival and eventually won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short in 2005. Her feature debut, Red Road (2006) won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and The Observer listed it at #20 in their list of the best 25 British films of the past 25 years. Red Road is also available for streaming on Netflix Watch Instantly. And most recently, her latest film Fish Tank also won a Jury Prize at Cannes, as well as Best Film at the 2010 BAFTA Awards. Time Out listed Fish Tank at #84 on their list of the top 100 British films ever made.

The cast of the film is superb, led by newcomer Katie Jarvis as Mia, and Michael Fassbender as her mother's new boyfriend, Connor. Mia lives with her mother and younger sister in a public housing complex in Essex, and there is not much hope in that environment. Mia aspires to be a hip-hop dancer, inspired by images in music videos, but unlike the other girls who practice their moves for the boys in the courtyard, Mia practices by herself in an abandoned flat. Mia meets a boy named Billy when she tries to free an malnourished horse from Billy's brothers, but Billy does not engage her curiosity as much as her mother's new male companion, Connor. Connor encourages Mia to audition for a dancing job, and loans her his camera for an audition tape. The relationship between Connor and Mia moves uncomfortably from a generous Connor standing in as a father figure to a drunk Connor behaving inappropriately with a impressionable 15 year old girl.

While this may sound bleak (and it is) the film also provides a wide palate of textures to share dimensions of Mia's experience. The staging and cinematography alternates between stark documentary realism to beautiful, lyrical imagery. Too often filmmakers adhere to the shaky-cam school of social realism, but while the camerawork here does allow for loose, hand held scenes, it also produces several vivid moments with light and color. A few sequences stand out in this regard. First, when Connor picks up a drunken Mia to take her from her mother's room to her own room, Mia only pretends to be asleep as Connor prepares her for bed. A camera angle suggests Mia's perspective as she tries to watch Connor without his realizing that she is watching her. This both confirms the awkward tensions between Mia and Connor, and foreshadows more troubling developments later in the film. The cinematographer Robbie Ryan is confident to allow such moments to go into deep shadow and amber highlights, rather than being exclusively interested in conventionally crisp cinematography.

Other moments with memorable naturalistic lighting include when Connor drives Mia, her mother and her sister to the countryside, and much later, the turning point when the relationship between Mia and Connor takes an unfortunate turn after a night of drinking. In the car interior in the countryside, the exposure for close-ups of Mia is set for the brightness of exterior of the car, allowing her face to fall into a grainy shadow. And in the pivotal scene with Mia and Connor, the room is lit by an amber streetlamp outside the apartment window as Mia gets feedback on her dance routine from Connor. Neither moment is particularly flashy in terms of technique but they provide the kind of imagery that neither conventional Hollywood dramas nor ultra-realistic independent dramas seem to be interested in anymore.

Much of the film's emotional impact comes from alternating between understanding the world a bit better than Mia does at some times, but comprehending harsh realities at exactly as she does at other times. When she breaks into Connor's house late in the film, neither she nor the audience notices important details that only stick out when Mia herself has pieced together who Connor really is in his life away from Mia and her mother. At other times it is just as painful to be several steps ahead of Mia, especially in regards to her dancing ambitions and our understanding of her talent. Near the end, as she tries to re-establish a friendship with Billy and she discovers that Billy's horse has died, we understand more than Billy does why she has to break down in tears.

Rather than just objectively observing Mia's world at a distance, director Arnold guides us to engage with Mia's world physically and emotionally, from the sights and sounds of the housing complex to the raw feelings of a young girl with very little to look forward to. The deceptively simple style of the film obscures the meticulously crafted imagery and narration, so that some images and revelations seem to sneak up on us even though we have been thoroughly prepared for them. There are no villains in the film, only people who are trying to do the best they can, but they make some horrible decisions. Mia herself is not necessarily the most sympathetic character, but her world is vividly portrayed in a manner that leads us to understand her a bit better.

While Fish Tank is not necessarily the most upbeat film, and the final interaction between between Mia and her mother is far from the most hopeful moment recorded in the cinema, the film does not leave you completely hopeless in the end. It does leave you hopeful that Arnold will continue making films in such an uncompromising manner, with as much insight and artistry as she has so far.
Posted by James Kreul at 7:04 PM
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sat Mar 12, 2011 1:54 am

http://www.bowens-cinematic.com/?p=2118

Just Dance
Dogtooth, Fish Tank

Fish Tank is the best portrait of a young person I’ve seen since the also-British Somers Town: a few gifted British filmmakers seem to be channeling the toughly sentimental urgency of some of the great French New Wave pictures. I’m going to risk overselling this movie, because odds are you haven’t seen it (or even heard of it) and the picture is currently streaming on Netflix so there’s no longer any excuse. The lead is Mia (Katie Jarvis), a troubled fifteen year-old living with her young party-animal mother Joanne (Kierston Wareing) and her soon-to-be-every-bit-as-troubled-if-she-isn’t-already little sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths) in a cramped apartment (hence the title) somewhere on the low income outskirts of country somewhere within sight of London. Joanne is profane, oblivious, disinterested (though this is partially a feign), usually single, and probably already resenting Mia’s youth – leaving the girls adrift to drink, fight, and wonder just what the Hell is gonna come of anything.

The potential catalyst is Connor (Michael Fassbender), Joanne’s hunky new boyfriend, who takes an interest in the girls that initially suggests that he’s the man to bring a degree of caring and stability to the household. But Connor and Mia hit it off in that instantly suggestive way that spells potential trouble, yet what ultimately happens is less easily categorized than the sex in most films (such as the similarly themed yet glib and moralistic and cruel An Education). Writer-director Andrea Arnold has the decency (and daring) to acknowledge that a. sex you’re not supposed to have is hot; and, b. this is a brief, fumbling, desperate expression of something that Mia hasn’t known, but, and this is the trick, Arnold doesn’t let anyone off with the “this is what we need while we needed it” sentimentality. The sex is quick, brief, hot: two people f#%@#&!.

The performances are all just about perfect, particularly Jarvis and Fassbender in tricky roles. Jarvis is an immensely promising performer of an impressively revealing and expressive physicality. Teenage actors all too often polish their moves, as they appear to be coached (let’s consider Dakota Fanning for a moment, who, at twelve, seemed to be roughly thirty-four years-old), but Jarvis is all pointed, off angles. Mia hasn’t become the working class sex bomb that her mother is yet, and that’s poignantly obvious when Mia – who wants to be a dancer – gets on the floor and starts moving disjointedly and self-consciously to various well-selected songs. Yet, Mia has presence beyond her years; and no matter how creepy and inappropriate it may be, you understand her connection with Connor from both perspectives.

The dancing is clearly Mia’s attempt to connect to her mother, whom we nearly always see drunkenly shimmying to this or that; and there’s a moment of brief connection between Mia, Tyler and Joanne that floored me. I haven’t seen her Red Road yet (also streaming, so I will be catching it soon), but Andrea Arnold is clearly a colossal talent: She’s clear-eyed, but she doesn’t give up on her characters. And Mia, by the end, earns her filmmaker’s respect.
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sat Mar 12, 2011 2:42 am

http://sammcdunna.blogspot.com/2011/03/fish-tank.html

Friday, March 11, 2011
Fish Tank

What should have been a throwaway story about a bratty 15 year-old with a crappy life ended up being quite the opposite. Because, let's face it, 15 year-old girls suck, and they don't deserve the privilege of breathing in oxygen. But with Fish Tank, Andrea Arnold gives us a glimpse into the life of one of said teenagers, perhaps in an attempt to let us understand why 15 year-old girls are the way that they are (i.e., spawns of the devil). For the most part, she succeeds.

As hinted, Fish Tank revolves around the life of Mia (newcomer Katie Jarvis), a young girl living in a lower class, project-like area of England. Not surprisingly, every day is a struggle, as her Mother (Kierston Wareing) is raising Mia and her younger sister alone, and being a great parent doesn't seem to be a top priority for her. Mia is socially incapable, and is constantly starting fights, using both her mouth and fists. Her only hobby or interest other than calling her mother awful names seems to be dancing. We learn that her Mother, Joanne, is soon sending Mia away to a school for evil seeds such as herself, and obviously without her consent. But this is only another thing to throw on to the pile, and it's only when Joanne's new boyfriend Connor, played my Michael Fassbender, enters the scene when things start shaking up. It's from this point on where the film takes off and tensions arise, specifically between Mia and Connor, and largely focuses on their confusing relationship, but it's really only an excuse to see how Mia reacts and deals with the unusual situation.

Throughout the film, Mia continues to do things that constantly baffle and bewilder me besides the fighting, screaming and random mood swings, so the line between feeling compassion for Mia or not is very hazy at times. It's not until the final act when I truly started feeling invested in Mia as a character, likely because it is the first time that she expresses any real emotion other than anger. Early on in the film, Mia discovers an ill-looking horse that is chained up by some mobile homes, right on the side of the highway. For a reason that is largely unexplained, she attempts to free the creature on more than one occasion. Towards the ending of the film, she learns that the horse dies, and she breaks down and cries. After everything we witness Mia go through, after all the violence, heartbreak and lawbreaking, Mia didn't shed a single tear. But this is what drives her over the edge - an animal she has virtually no connection or association with. Or at least, one she shouldn't have a connection with. Not surprisingly, Mia is offered the chance to run away, and she accepts for a chance to get away from a life that she despises. It is also not until the end of the film that we see Mia and her mother share any sort of bond or enjoyment together, but our hears sink again when we realize that this moment is very brief, because Joanne is still, will always be a crappy mother, and Mia is leaving home, and probably for a long time.

It is quite a ride to witness the insane ways an angry 15-year old will handle certain situations, especially heartbreak, but the last act is admittedly loses me a little. Fish Tank is one of the better "not-a-girl-but-not-yet-a-woman" films, but like any other film, it has it's ups and downs, as the last act admittedly loses me a bit, but it succeeds on most other levels, especially the acting, if it is to be believed that Jarvis has no previous acting experience. Fish Tank is perhaps what Thirteen attempted to be. Only with Thirteen, I just ended up despising these monsters called "tweens" even more than I did prior to seeing the film. Fish Tank might take this to the extreme, because while these girls can be brats, Mia certainly takes it to the next level. However, that is probably necessary in order for the film to be above average on the entertainment value. Fish Tank is definitely worth the watch, but having been released by the Criterion Collection, you probably didn't need me to tell you that. Does this movie change my exhaustingly negative opinions on teenage girls? Possibly. Maybe. Probably not. No.

Trailer:
Posted by Sam McDonough at 2:44 PM
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sat Mar 12, 2011 3:33 am

http://cinephiliaandsass.blogspot.com/2011/03/admiration-andrea-arnolds-fish-tank.html

Friday, March 11, 2011
Admiration: Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank
Fish Tank (2009, dir. Andrea Arnold)

Many a respected blogger and critic has been writing about Andrea Arnold's incredible Fish Tank since its festival run back in 2009 and release in early 2010. I have been aching to catch up with the film and was finally able to a few weeks ago. The hype that I'd heard up to that point was deafening, but I was excited to at least catch some more Michael Fassbender. By the time the credits rolled I was struck by the entire experience, and also struck by just how struck I was. (Got it?)

First off, the photography of the film is stunning. I have to hand it to D.P. Robbie Ryan for taking the English slums and turning them into something ethereal. The white walls, the flowing curtains, and the pink living room all work together to create this soft atmosphere in a typically 'hard' place. Our protagonist Mia (Katie Jarvis) is a product of this environment, but it coyly winks at the audience behind its virginal and gossamer veneer. Ryan is a master of photography because he takes moments in the script that the actors sculpt into wonderful moments and makes them sing. He enhances moments and evokes emotion in a way that as a viewer feels like flattery. I'm grateful that he is able to work on a film such as this. I know I'm really waxing poetic about his work but it's truly remarkable. Just the way he films the freeness and release of Mia's dancing juxtaposed against the seediness and oppression of the audition venue is such a magical work.

Then there's the acting. It goes without saying that Michael Fassbender yet again shows that he is going to quickly be world-known as a once-in-a-generation talent. First Steve McQueen's Hunger, then his part in Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds and now this? I'm just as excited for his Rochester in Jane Eyre and his Magneto in X-Men: First Class as I am for anything that Nicole Kidman has on the horizon....and that's saying something. But it's newcomer Katie Jarvis and her Mia that helps this film to reach transcendent heights. I can write about it but it almost feels like compartmentalizing something that is so much more than the sum of its parts. It must be seen to be understood, and it shocks me that she received little-to-no recognition on the awards front. It's disgusting.

Of course all of this is filtered through the genius of Andrea Arnold's direction, and it is to her credit that the film is a complete work of art. I saw it two weeks ago and it still hasn't left my mind. The littlest thing will bring me back to the film and then I'm swept away in the story and what I recall of its images. I'm brimming over with excitement for her next film, which'll tackle my favorite Bronte novel: Wuthering Heights. That will be one hell of a challenge since that novel has NEVER been adapted well. I'm hoping that if she can create something like Fish Tank she'll be able to create the definitive adaptation of Wuthering Heights.

Bobby Womack's 'California Dreaming', which plays an integral role in the film:
Posted by Matthew at 12:46 AM
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sat Mar 12, 2011 9:26 pm

http://cinemacaffeine.blogspot.com/2011/03/indie-on-instant-fish-tank.html

Saturday, March 12, 2011
Indie on Instant: Fish Tank

Netflix’s main strength as a rental service has recently changed. When Netflix first became popular, it was all about the convenience of being able to get DVDs sent straight to your house, without questing to the nearest rental store (a longer and longer quest as more and more shops shut down. This is something that many people would blame on Netflix, but that’s beside the point). Now Netflix is focusing more on their Instant Viewing service, which one can subscribe to on its own or as a free supplement to one of the many regular mailing service options. I personally don’t even subscribe to Netflix; I just log on to my parents’ account and stream to my laptop for free. (Yay for being super broke!) The great thing about the Netflix streaming service, as opposed to similar video services such as Hulu or iTunes, is the sheer amount and the variety in their Instant library.

I fell in love with Netflix in the first place not because of the convenience, but because they have literally every DVD known to mankind available. Rarer commodities that could not be found at my local Blockbuster, Red Box, or public library were almost always available on Netflix. Where else could I find old-school Peter Jackson splatter titles, or classic French cinema by Godard and Truffaut? It’s also great for television, both old, new, and pay-per-view; who needs Starz when all their best series are Instant View on Netflix shortly after airing? It’s like having unlimited access to the entire Criterion and Kino libraries, plus your hipster best friend’s increasingly pointless VHS collection of “ironic” B-movies (the VCR is over, buddy, stop being a stuck-up tool and move on).

With the advent of the streaming service’s popularity, more and more titles have because available to watch instantly, and most of them are those more rare titles; the indie, foreign, and classic films that are harder to obtain elsewhere and probably aren’t very high on most people’s physical DVD queues, mainly because they haven’t heard of them. However, because these tiny, lesser-known films are featured as Instant View, people are more likely to watch them, choosing them as secondary options in between mailings and saving the spots on their physical queues for newer releases. The purpose of this column is to highlight some of the best titles currently available to stream instantly on Netflix, in the hopes that other people will dig deeper and discover some of these gems.

Fish Tank is a tiny British indie drama that was released in 2009 to much critical acclaim but little box office, especially on this side of the pond. Directed by Andrea Arnold, the biggest name in the credits is Michael Fassbender, and he has acquired most of his fame post-Fish Tank with films such as Inglourious Basterds, the newest version of Jane Eyre, and the upcoming X-Men: First Class. At the time this film was released in cinemas last fall, very few people knew him by name, partially due to the fact that Fassbender has an uncanny talent for disappearing into gritty roles despite his Hollywood-ready good looks. The year before he starved himself to play Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands in Steve McQueen’s magnificent film Hunger, showing that he is a no-holds-barred actor in the vein of fellow Irishman Daniel Day-Lewis. In Fish Tank he plays Connor, a security guard at a hardware store who embarks on a live-in affair with the chav-tastic Joanne (Kierston Wareing). However, he soon develops an interest in the well-being of Joanne’s eldest daughter, fifteen-year-old Mia (newcomer Katie Jarvis), a school dropout and seemingly doomed deadbeat whose only real interest in life is hip-hop dance. Joanne verbally abuses and neglects both Mia and her precocious younger sister, Tyler, but Connor encourages Mia to express herself via her dancing pursuits while simultaneously urging her to clean up her act. He sees a diamond in the rough where her own mother only sees useless trash. As Mia can't help but be intrigued by the handsome stranger who appears to actually care about her, the two have a fiery and immediate chemistry…but of course, things are bound to go awry from there.

Andrea Arnold’s work as a writer-director bears a remarkable resemblance to her fellow Brit Lynn Ramsey's films, especially Ratcatcher, in that it almost seems stream-of-consciousness or improvised but never drags, and sheds light on the people populating the wrong side of the tracks. In other words, it’s remarkably real. It’s also beautifully and starkly lit, with a color palette that appears very deliberate and effective at creating the insular world of her characters. Lead actress Katie Jarvis, who was discovered and cast after being spotted fighting loudly with her boyfriend at a train station, reminded me of Emma Stone with her sass and attitude…if Emma Stone was a trashy character on Skins. She throws herself into the role with utter abandon, probably because it’s not much of a stretch for her. She’s essentially playing herself; yet it doesn’t take away from her magnetism when she is onscreen. Even in her worst moments as a character, she has charisma that makes you want to like her and want her to succeed.

And of course, there’s Michael Fassbender. Oh, Michael Fassbender. Never has he looked sexier, not even in 300 when he was all abs and flowing blonde hair and flirtation with Gerard Butler. Here he looks flat-out naturally handsome, and exudes masculinity and charm. One can’t blame Mia for being drawn to him, despite the doomed inappropriateness of their interactions. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot of Fish Tank, since while some events seemed predestined and predictable, others took me completely by surprise. Nonetheless, I couldn’t tear my eyes away for the entire two-hour running time, even when the scenes before me grew increasingly painful and upsetting to watch. I do think the film could have benefited from being edited down about ten to fifteen minutes; it would have lost some of it’s drifting and lyrical mood but it also would have dragged less in some spots, particularly in the last third of the film. Even in the moments that dragged, I was still engaged, but that was mostly because I was on edge, waiting for the next bit of heartbreak or euphoria. There were far more of the former than of the latter, but that’s life, isn’t it?

Fish Tank vividly represents a very particular and very British slice of life. I feel as though the British housing estate, such as the one where Fish Tank primarily takes place, has developed a fairy-tale kingdom quality to the American audience, despite being anything but. As viewers we can't tear our eyes away, even though we know we sure as hell couldn't hack it there ourselves. As seen on Skins, Misfits, and even Doctor Who, the rules of this kingdom are different than that of the middle and upper class; familial roles are either reversed or completely absent, and age is literally nothing but a number when it comes to behavior that would be inappropriate off of the estate. Self-destruction runs in the family; after all, how could Mia strive to be better when the only role model she has is a woman who values a good drink and a good f&#! over her own flesh and blood? It’s utterly bleak but also fascinating, and Arnold embraces both of these factors with artistic bravado. I definitely recommend giving both this director and her wonderful film a chance the next time you find yourself with nothing to watch but your Instant queue.

Posted by Lee at 4:46 PM
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Tue Mar 15, 2011 1:16 am

http://criteriononthebrain.blogspot.com/2011/03/553-fish-tank.html

Monday, March 14, 2011
#553: Fish Tank
(Andrea Arnold, 2009)

I don't beg often, but if you are reading this and you haven't seen this movie, please do so. Not only is it a great movie, it's the kind of movie that needs to be made so much more often. When I say that, I don't just mean films made by women, about women, about teenagers, about poverty, about little-seen worlds. I don't just mean intelligent movies, beautiful movies, quiet movies, personal movies. I mean all of these things, but most of all I mean movies that mean something, that can not only affect you, but have already affected their creators. Movies that people care about, beyond the bottom line or how much you are able to waste time being entertained. I mean movies that emerge from love and are loved. Please see Fish Tank. Let it grab you.

Fish Tank tells the story of a teenaged girl named Mia growing up in the British projects (they call them estates there, apparently without any initial irony). With no friends and a checked out mother, Mia wanders through her decaying neighborhood searching for a way to let out her frustration. She has been forced to build up her defenses by her surroundings. The arrival of a new boyfriend for her mother ushers in a new phase in her life, however, when he begins to take interest in Mia and her sister. He treats them well (even acknowledging their existence is a step up from Mia's mother) and seems genuinely engaged with the family. Needless to say, this all does not end well.

Andrea Arnold's second feature-length film has already received many of the expected comparisons to similar British films. The most notable is, of course, Ken Loach's Kes, which serves as a great-granddaddy to all coming of age films set in working class Britain. The film might also be compared to the more obvious crowd-pleaser Billy Elliot, which also featured a young aspiring dancer (only we can clearly see that Mia is no good as a dancer). Personally, I like the comparison to one of the great films of the last decade, Ratcatcher. Also made by a woman and set in a similarly dilapidated Scottish project, that earlier film was perhaps more poetic and lyrical than the gritty and straightforward (though beautifully shot) Fish Tank. But both films manage to make their settings come alive and interact with their protagonists in ways that are both moving and illuminating. Mia's encounters with the horse are probably the best example in this film of the kind of surreal touches that are interwoven with harsh depictions of the reality of poverty in 1970s Scotland so tightly in Ratcatcher. But Fish Tank's larger moments never feel like anything but a natural extension of Mia's inner turmoil, and the film manages to stay unfailingly authentic and vividly personal.

Some movies are only relevant because of a central performance or two, an exercise in technique that is often less fun to watch than it is to create. Fish Tank is not a performance film, but it depends entirely on Katie Jarvis's performance as Mia. Discovered in a train station yelling at her boyfriend (which reviewers seem legally required to mention), the actress gives such a nuanced, compelling performance that it would be easy to think she isn't acting at all. Her scenes with the intimidatingly brilliant Michael Fassbender (who will be an international star in about ten seconds) are so alive that it's difficult to watch. In these moments, the film is almost a suspense thriller, the viewer reduced to screaming "don't open that door!" as the killer lurks in the shadows, ready to dismantle his prey.

It would be easy to write Fassbender's character off as a rapist or pedophile. He certainly takes advantage of a situation that he, as an adult and a man, has a moral (and of course legal) obligation to extricate himself from, though everyone who sees the film will immediately feel a sense of impending danger between the two early in the film; his character was never meant to be strong or good-hearted. I believe he is weak more than he is evil (or is evil just a simplistic portrayal of the weak?), but what interests me more is what Mia will take from her experience, because that is what I think interests the film. Arnold gives her film's final moments an intense ambiguity; the scene of Mia, her mother, and her sister dancing to Nas's "Life's a Bitch" (a song on which I have spent thousands of words) is a powerful one not because it unites the family towards a brave new cohesion but because dissolution is near, and dancing isn't just celebration but momentary rest from struggle. As she leaves for her new life in Wales, the tone is one of renewal rather than defeat, but it is hardly joyful. Fish Tank's final moments are of life, messy and determined. Mia begins again.
Posted by bza at 11:40 AM
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:04 am

http://hallucina.blogspot.com/2011/03/criterion-andrea-arnolds-fish-tank.html

Monday, March 14, 2011
CRITERION: Andrea Arnold's "Fish Tank"
"I switched my motto
Instead of saying: "f&#! tomorrow"
That buck that bought the bottle
Could have won the lotto."
- Nas and AZ, "Life's a Bitch"

"Life's a Bitch" is Mia's anthem.

Mia (Katie Jarvis) is sweet, angry, well-meaning, dangerous, naive, cruel, gullible, horny, sensitive, often drunk and high, hopeful, stupid as all get out- she's what we call on this side of the pond a "teenager." In the tenements of lower class England, Mia is a perfect fit, with her "ain't nuttin' to f&#! wit'" clothes as camouflage, while the camera tracks her down imprisoning hallways where laundry immodestly hangs out to dry. Mia's mom (Kierston Wareing) is a needy, drunken mess who behaves like a bitchy older sister saddled with baby-sitting chores, bringing in a new boyfriend into this already unstable aquatic life. The boyfriend (Michael Fassbender) is rakishly handsome and naturally awakens Mia's wary interest in a father figure- and maybe more. Single mothers, beware bringing rakishly handsome boyfriends into your cramped little apartment, specially if you intend to spend most of your time blacked out, abandoning him to the awkward flirtations of your blooming teenage daughter.

Practically everything that happens in Andrea Arnold's "Fish Tank" has the inevitable volatility of well-observed adolescence, and Mia is such a brilliant character that she earns all your sympathy even as she derails into behavior that is almost criminal. Arnold (who also directed the thriller "Red Road") works with teenagers as well as Catherine Hardwicke did in "Thirteen," but, less obviously, she also captures a whole milieu by closely observing only one character. This is a world as removed from Masterpiece Theater and "Downton Abbey" as imaginable, so that one is left trying to conjure what historical quake could have led from there to here.





As Mia, Jarvis is fascinating, tender and tough, wholly believable and worth rooting for. Like every young girl, she dreams of being a ballerina- or, as close as her 'hood will allow her to get, a break dancer. With lyrical, balletic grace we see her move to Bobbi Womack's cover of "California Dreamin'" (a song used here as effectively as it was in Wong Kar Wai's "Chungking Express"), practicing to attend a "female dancers wanted" audition.

I don't have to tell you that there's only one kind of "female dancer" waiting for the likes of Mia.

The details are depressing, but the movie isn't. Mia is never going to get a big break as a "Black Swan," but I was left oddly confident that, at the very least, she REALLY ain't nuttin' to f&#! wit', and she'll do fine. GO WATCH NOW.

Posted by Hansel Castro at Monday, March 14, 2011
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Thu Mar 17, 2011 5:28 pm

http://regena-reviews.blogspot.com/2011/03/fish-in-toilet-of-love.html

Thursday, March 17, 2011
Fish in the Toilet of Love

Look out for spoilers! (Also, title is nothing but a reference to the brilliant British show Coupling, however I think it is apt for this post).

Well, after seeing Jane Eyre, spring break turned into a Fassbender fest for me, and I watched everything I could get my hands on with him in it that I hadn’t already seen. While watched last year’s Fish Tank, I was struck by its similarities to 2009’s An Education. Similarities abound--disaffected youth, instability of a family unit, affair with an older, married man. It was quite surprising how similar they are in ways. However, Fish Tank is a far superior film, and far less pretentious about being so.

Carey Mulligan was called the next Audrey Hepburn by someone after her role in An Education, and she is quite stunning in the movie. The film is well written, well acted and keeps you involved. It takes place in 1960s England, and takes great care to let you know how cool it is (she likes French New Wave cinema, and all the ‘cool’ trappings that go with that supposedly ‘anti-bourgeois’ art crowd. However, of course, An Education itself is not concerned with questions of class or race at all. Some mention of financial hardship is present (oh dear, how shall we ever afford Oxford?), however the characters lead a comfortable lives. Peter Sarsgaard is wealthier than her family, but the differences are not that pronounced, except that he can afford to take her on a trip to Paris. At the end, I couldn’t help rolling my eyes a bit as the main character says how she looks like everyone at Oxford, yet is so different on the inside. Okay, I get it, she was affected by this older man she slept with and her youthful dreams of a perfect marriage were forever shattered. However, she was able to pick herself up by her shoelaces and get back her scholarship to freaking Oxford. Boo hoo.

Fish Tank tells the story of Mia, a 15 year old girl who lives with her incredibly young mother and little sister--all of whom appear to hate each other, and are constantly yelling and cussing each other out. They are incredibly poor (“those track suits cost 20 quid”), and Mia is about to get sent to a referral school because her behavior is so out of control. Mia’s mother brings home a new boyfriend, Connor (Fassbender!), and from the start, a great amount of sexual tension dances between them. The film is wonderfully shot and has an incredible soundtrack that amps this all up, until the inevitable happens. The difference, and more believable/miserable reality of this film is that Mia has nowhere to go; it exposes the fallacy of class mobility (sure, it happens once in a blue moon I suppose, but not nearly so much as we would like to think). She tries to get ahead through the one thing she loves, dancing, however her opportunity here too turns out to be a cruel joke by the universe. Similarly, the class struggle of the film is heightened by the fact that Connor(spoiler) really belongs to the middle class, even though you don’t know this for most of the film and read him as part of the working class, like them. There are uncomfortable connotations of his “slumming” with Mia’s family, and her reactions to this knowledge are uncontrollable and frightening. While not a film about race and class, the racial aspect of class is not ignored such as it kind of is in An Education, and presents itself through Mia’s choice of music and dance styles, which have linked black and working class populations in Britain for decades (see Dick Hebdige’s work on subcultures for greater analysis of this). While the end of the film does resolve her struggles with her mother and sister, and she escapes the building she’s in, she doesn’t get to escape to one of the world’s finest educational institutions, but to Wales. Her’s isn’t a vertical track, it’s horizontal. You can’t help getting the feeling too, that her sister will end up trapped just like she is in the end.

Katie Jarvis is absolutely wonderful as the prickly, aggressive and defensive Mia, who is angry at the world that ignores and doesn’t care about her. Michael Fassbender is wonderful as Connor, who doesn’t seem so bad, is wildly charismatic, but turns out to be scum. While I enjoyed An Education, Fish Tank is unquestionably the better and more meaningful film, that feels like it’s about actual people, vs. that film that you know you’re supposed to like, but it can’t quite escape the feeling of staged-ness, or the feeling that it really should be a book (which it is).

Posted by Regena at 10:54 AM
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sun Mar 20, 2011 7:09 pm

http://kayleemarie.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/andrea-arnold/

andrea arnold, fish tank, wasp
andrea arnold
In Movies on 03.20.2011 at 1:41 am

So tonight I watched Andrea Arnold’s film Fish Tank, and was absolutely blown away. It’s streaming on Netflix Instant View currently, and I highly recommend it to anyone. It’s a tough story dealing with tough issues, but it’s beautifully, heartbreakingly told. Please please watch it if you like good films. Here’s what Roger Ebert had to say about it:

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.
…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.

Since I liked Fish Tank so much, I though I’d check out Andrea Arnold to see what else she’s done. Apparently her short film Wasp won the Academy Award in 2005. And rightfully so – I watched it on YouTube tonight and loved it also. I embedded both parts below if you’d like to see it!! Let me know what you think.
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sun Mar 20, 2011 7:12 pm

http://popcultureglutton.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/an-education-in-a-fish-tank/

An Education in a Fish Tank
Posted: March 20, 2011 | Author: tometome

So apparently 2009 was the year of pedophilia in critically acclaimed English films. Missed that memo.

In An Education, the young, naive Carey Mulligan is lured by the charms of a sinisterly beguiling Peter Saarsgard. In Fish Tank, by far the more affecting film, fifteen-year-old Mia (Katie Jarvis) is attracted to the charming, significantly older Conor (Michael Fassbender). The films are vastly different–An Education focuses on a middle class genteel family in the 1960s, while Fish Tank is gritty and current, dwelling on the bleakness of an Essex council estate, but in both films, an older, attractive man making a minor go googly-eyed is very significant.

I really like both films. And they both make me uncomfortable.

I have a tendency to dichotomize and delineate. When it comes to statutory rape–it has always been very clear to me. That relationship was wrong. He is the adult. He should not have done that.

I still stand by those rules. But in both films–which do a wonderful job of letting the viewer see the world exclusively through the protagonists’ eyes–I can see the attraction; I can understand the charm that seduced these girls, I almost feel like if I were in the same situation, I would be liable to make the same mistake… but it’s not their mistake to make.

Let’s be clear. Both men in both movies are sex offenders, by textbook definition. But they are charming and good-looking. They are not old. They do not sleep with nine -year -olds. And such is the conundrum of real life, that many times, sex offenders don’t fit the obvious categories. It is to each films’ credits, that the filmmakers do not flinch from this messiness , from the fact that girls can, and do, get seduced by older men and that these men may be very nice, with wives and cute little girls with scooters.

It’s something that always gives me pause. Sometimes I want movies that make the moral decisions for me, that tell me what is right and what is wrong, so that I don’t have to deal with the messiness and ambiguity of reality. I want my villains to be villains with a capital V, without any equivocation and my protagonists to be untarnished heroines, without any morally questionable behavior. When it comes to sexual assault especially, I’d rather my rape victims be completely unwilling and my rapists ridiculously cruel. That way I don’t have to ponder those situations when it seems like a choice. When it appears consensual.

Fish Tank, the second feature film of Andrea Arnold and the Jury Prize Winner at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, doesn’t allow me to do that. It paints one of the bleakest pictures of England I’ve seen in a long time. (And the English, as I’m beginning to understand, specialize in bleak pictures). In a complete departure from the stereotypically English films like Pride and Prejudice, movies like Fish Tank and the earlier This is England ( Shane Meadows; 2006) depict a weathered, desolate England, where “f&#! off!” is a parting greeting and “I hate you!” a term of endearment.

Fifteen year old Mia, played by newcomer Katie Jarvis (literally discovered by Arnold, arguing with her boyfriend on a train platform) with frightening realism, lives a humdrum existence in public housing. She spends her time getting into fights, petting a dying horse and practicing her dance moves on the rooftop of her flat. When a charming Irish stranger named Conor (Michael Fassbender) comes to play house with her self-absorbed mother Joanne (Kierston Warenig) and her little sister (Rebecca Griffifths, another fantastic ingénue), Mia’s life changes dramatically.

Fish Tank is one of those films that’s going to sit with me for a while. I’m going to wrestle with its complicated themes, struggle with my own culpability as a viewer–temporarily falling, like Mia, for the charms of a pedophile. Roger Ebert calls Conor more of an ‘immoral opportunist.

He’s not. He’s a pedophile. But a charming one.
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Sun Mar 20, 2011 7:26 pm

http://www.annaimhof.com/?p=1696

Fish Tank (2009)
March 19th, 2011 Posted by Anna

This is one hell of a movie. I loved it. It’s such a beautiful piece of cinema that dares to portray people as human beings instead of the prototypes that are still overflowing (mainstream) cinema. The story unfolds around Mia, a teenage girl who’s struggling to find her place in the world. Highly vulnerable, she is in some serious need for reassurance. Katie Jarvis, who was discovered for this by arguing with her boyfriend at a train station, delivers a performance that is absolutely oustanding. There’s so much going on behind those eyes. Director Andrea Arnold really gave her actors room to breathe, let them take their time. I also loved Michael Fassbender, who’s got such a warmth about him here. And yet you’re never quite sure whether you can trust him ⎯ or should. All these characters are really complex, and they’re all faulty, but I always think that’s what makes characters likable and memorable. f&#! heroes! There’s so much genuine sadness and hurt in this film, and at the same time, there’s such a tenderness and intimacy about it. Fish Tank is an exceptionally sensitive film, highly observant, poetic and stark. It’s been a while since a movie has touched me so deeply and thoroughly.
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Tue Mar 22, 2011 12:45 am

http://art-burger.com/movies/titles/fish-tank/

Fish Tank
Posted by admin on 21 March 2011, 8:04 pm

Katie Jarvis as Mia in Fish Tank.
Live, love and give as good as you get.

A clear-eyed, potent portrait of teenage sexuality and vulnerability, Fish Tank confirms Oscar winning filmmaker Andrea Arnold’s stature as one of the leading figures of new British cinema.

Fifteen-year-old Mia (Katie Jarvis) is in a constant state of war with her family, her school and her neighbors, without any constructive creative outlet for her considerable energies save a secret love of hip-hop dancing.

When she meets her party-girl mother’s charming new boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender), she is amazed to find him returning her attention, and believes he can help her start to make sense of her life—though his seemingly tender demeanor may hide a much more treacherous interior. A clear-eyed, potent portrait of teenage
BBC Films and the UK Film Council in association with Limelight present a Kees Kasander production. Fish Tank stars Michael Fassbender (Hunger, Inglorious Basterds), Kierston Wareing (It’s A Free World), Katie Jarvis, Rebecca Griffiths and Harry Treadaway (Brothers of the Head), and is written and directed by Andrea Arnold.

Andrea Arnold won the Jury Prize at the 2006 Cannes Festival for her debut feature Red Road, for which she also won many other awards including the prestigious Carl Foreman BAFTA Award in 2007.

Fish tank is the story of 15-year old Mia, whose life is turned on its head when her mother brings home a new boyfriend. Set in the decaying landscape and council estates of Essex, Arnold reinforces her reputation as a British auteur and casts the same unflinching, unprejudiced gaze and touches on the themes of her Oscar-winning short WASP to create an original and unsettling tale for our age.

Filmed over six weeks in the summer of 2008, Fish Tank was produced by Kees Kasander and Nick Laws and was executive produced by Christine Langan of BBC Films and David Thompson. The director of photography was Robbie Ryan (Brick Lane, Red Road), the editor Nicolas Chaudeurge (Red Road) and the production designer, Helen Scott (Red Road, Topsy Turvy).
Katie Jarvis

Katie Jarvis as Mia in Fish Tank.
Production Notes

Academy-award winning writer/director Andrea Arnold began the process of turning FISH TANK into a film when she was struck by a single image.

“All my films have started with an image,” says Arnold “It’s usually quite a strong image and it seems to come from nowhere. I don’t understand the image at first or what it means, but I want to know more about it so I start exploring it, try and understand it and what it means. This is how I always start writing.”

From the outset of the project Arnold was keen to cast as many non-actors as possible. 17 year old Katie Jarvis who had no previous acting experience was cast as Mia. “I always wanted someone real for Mia,” says Arnold. “I wanted someone who would give me trouble for real. I wanted a girl who would not have to act, could just be herself.”

The casting process took some time before Katie was ‘discovered’ on a station platform. “Originally we went down the more traditional routes as Mia needed to have a passion for dancing,” explains Arnold. “We saw girls from agencies and dance clubs. Then we started looking in Essex, in youth clubs, markets, shopping centres, anywhere teenage girls would hang out. Katie was found on Tilbury Town Station arguing with her boyfriend. When she was approached she didn’t believe it was really for a film and wouldn’t hand over her number. She has a lot of spirit but also a vulnerability and innocence that felt right. She came from where we were going to film and felt very real.”

Katie says “There weren’t a lot of people at the first audition so I wasn’t nervous, but at the second it was a bit more scary as there were a lot of girls. I’d never done any dancing or anything like that and I didn’t think I had a chance. They called me on my birthday and told me I’d got the part. I cried my eyes out, I was well chuffed.”

Even though Katie had no dance experience, which was crucial for the role, Arnold was convinced that she was right for the role.

“She had never done any acting or dancing before,” explains Arnold. “She didn’t dance at all in fact, didn’t even like dancing. The first time I asked her to dance she was too shy and so we left the room and left the camera on so she could dance alone. When I watched the tape back I saw that even though she was not a dancer in any way she was totally herself when she was dancing. There was no mask, no show. She was able to be herself totally even though she didn’t like doing it. I thought I would take the risk. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, Katie had never done any acting but whatever happened I knew she would be herself and I wanted that the most.”
Katie Jarvis

Katie Jarvis as Mia in Fish Tank.

Katie adds “The dancing was hard work as I had to do it over and over again. It wore me out, but it kept me fit.”

“She was really brave in so many ways; there was so much for her to get used to. She was in every scene and it was tough for her sometimes,” says Arnold. “I think she really grew over the course of the filming, changed in some way. She did beautifully. I think she wants to do more acting. She has an agent now.”

“I learnt a lot doing the film,” says Katie. “Whereas before I was doing nothing all the time, it made me learn that I could do things if I wanted to do it. It was hard, but it was fun and rewarding. Now I want to make the most of it. It shows you don’t have to go to drama school to get into it, but I think I was one of a kind, I don’t think anyone else will get picked off a train station!”

Michael Fassbender was not immediately thought of for Connor. Arnold initially had a very different idea. “I originally wanted real people for everyone in Fish Tank and I had my eye on a man who works in my local park, a man who empties the bins. He was a perfect Connor. I wonder what he made of me watching him so intently every time I saw him. But then I began to think it would be interesting to have someone with experience, mixed in with Katie’s innocence as that would echo the relationship in the film and could work well.”

Fassbender had just appeared in Hunger to great critical acclaim, but Arnold hadn’t seen the film. “I saw Michael for the first time in a clip from Wedding Belles, an Irvine Welsh film. I hadn’t seen Hunger or even knew about it at that point, though I became aware of it later. I thought he was very charismatic in Wedding Belles and that was an important quality for Connor. I made a decision without meeting him on the strength of that clip really because he felt right and I trust my instincts in that way. I don’t like to question myself when it feels right so just went for it.”

Fassbender boarded the film without having read the script as Arnold didn’t allow any of the actors to read it beforehand. They were given their scenes only a few days before filming. “Not having a script is kind of worrying and most of the time you wouldn’t commit to something under those circumstances, but I’d seen Red Road and I really respected Andrea and wanted to work with her. I find her storytelling very interesting because it’s in the grey area. She deals with human beings who have flaws and have good qualities and negative qualities and are basically just trying to figure their way through life.”

Starring by: Michael Fassbender, Katie Jarvis, Kierston Wareing, Harry Treadaway, Charlotte Collins, Jason Maza, Chelsea Chase, Jack Gordon, Sarah Counsell, Brooke Hobby
Directed by: Andrea Arnold
Screenplay by: Andrea Arnold
Release Date: January 15th, 2010
MPAA Rating: None.
Box Office: $374,675 (US total)
Studio: IFC Films
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Re: Fish Tank Reviews part 2

Post by Admin on Tue Mar 22, 2011 12:46 am

http://browndogsmovieblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/fishtank/

Fish Tank

Posted March 21, 2011 by alfuh dog in Drama.
2009

Starring: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender and Kierston Wareing

This probably would have been a good movie if it weren’t for all the foul language. The movie focuses on the 15-year-old girl, Mia, and her struggles at home with her trampy mom (also quite foul mouthed) who doesn’t seem to give a crap about her unless someone of authority is involved, and the lack of acceptance from everyone around her.

To make matters worse for her, her mothers – at the moment – boyfriend shows interest in her, confusing her even more.

But like I said… this would have been a good movie sans the foul language. I don’t think a sentence was spoken without the F-word or something like it. Even the younger sister all of maybe 10-years old was just as foul.

Had I seen the warning about extreme language I probably would have thought twice about watching it.
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