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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Fassbender

Fish Tank *****

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Fish TankMia (the mesmerizing Katie Jarvis) is a typical 15 year-old girl who lives with her single mother Joanne (Kierston Wareing), little sister Tyler (the extraordinarily authentic Rebecca Griffiths) and their innocuous dog, Tennents. These girls, to borrow from Peter Bradshaw, “have learned from their mother mannerisms of pre-emptive scorn and rage to cover up perennially hurt feelings”. But Mia has dreams, fulfillable desires which afford her an optimism that shines out of this bleak suburban London landscape. She dreams of freeing a beautiful, gaunt mare chained to breeze-block by her owners, two intimidating and obnoxious young men and their more benign brother; of escaping her body, her emotions and her life through modern dance, the compulsion through which she bares her soul; of intimacy, fatherly or sexual, to free deep untapped reserves of passion. Yet all measures to these ends are misdirected, falter or come to nought.

Fish Tank is an extraordinary, touching, melancholic film in which Andrea Arnold manages to execute some of the harder tropes of social-realism with a tone of honest optimism, yet without resorting to a hint of sentimentality or cliché. There is beautifully choreographed photography, playing heavily on stark contrasts (though I would contend that the vast openness of the outdoors, set against often claustrophobic interior, manifests just as threatened and crumbling a beauty as in the life and soul of Mia). The city is never-ending, as we follow over Mia’s shoulder along broken sidewalks, across flyovers, the towers always behind and cars in the foreground. The only real escape from the sprawl comes in the form of a trip to the countryside with mum’s boyfriend, Connor (Michael Fassbender, whose tremendous performance appears so effortless as to become invisible).

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Written by James P. Campbell

10/09/2009 at 11:59

Hunger ****

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HungerHunger does not necessarily force a full explanation or any justification. What it does attempt, and achieve with some grace, is an explanation of why Bobby Sands died and led others to their graves. A matter of the individual mind. And, too, a sensitive portrayal of the condition of the oppressor, in all his anonymous agony. And both, in all their universality. Read the poster’s loglines.

The film is quite unconventional in structure. Dialogue focuses about a central exchange between Fassbender’s Sands and a priest, a scene which contains much of the film’s dialogue and as a result feels far longer than it is. In the best possible sense. That is an artful interpretation of character, not a glorification.

The suited guard tasked to clean the shit-covered cells finds a tremendous symmetrical spiral adorning one wall. Taken aback, he must then proceed to wash the stain away, but it fights against him, so engrained and solid has the faeces become. Steve McQueen knows that he is sculpting something powerful and true from muck and mire, and that what emerges is of transcendent beauty.

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Written by James P. Campbell

14/12/2008 at 12:10