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.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Fish Tank has a wonderful correlation that runs through the entire film. The main character, 15-year-old Mia, is troubled because her small world is changing. She no longer has a good relationship with her mother or sister, she has no girlfriends, and anytime she leaves her home is constantly in conflict with others.
At one point, she bumps into a rundown trailer park where she sees an old horse on its last legs. She becomes protective of the horse and demands the owner’s take better care of the animal. As the story progresses, the horse gets sicker and sicker and Mia’s life gets more and more complicated and confusing. I realized that the horse was a symbol of her lost innocence. What better way to capture the end of childhood than a sick horse ready to be put down? All girls dream unrealistic dreams when they are young. They want to be a princess, marry a prince, and ride away in the sunset on their pony. So, what does a young girl do during a time when everything they knew isn’t as it seemed and the world grows darker and colder by the minute? They hold onto a hope for something better and Mia is no different. Her passion is for dance and the way it takes her away to a better place in her mind. There are several wonderful scenes where she dances alone in an apartment building to her music and you can feel what it means to her. The emotional connection I felt was largely due to the wonderful performance by Katie Jarvis in the lead. Her scenes are never forced or overacted. They play out eloquently and in service to the story.
Is everything perfect here? No. While I really enjoyed Mia’s story, there was a sense that there could have been more character interaction. Mia’s mother and sister are largely wasted as after thoughts when they could have been central in how Mia faces the challenges she does (I won’t spoil them here). “Fish Tank” is wonderful at presenting confusion but does very little in resolving it. Some viewers would call that a strength but I consider it a weakness. Some filmmakers like to leave a lot open ended to let the viewer imagine what could or should have happened to the characters. But, it’s not about what I think should happen to Mia. That’s the storyteller’s job and they let me down a little near the end. But, for those that like cerebral coming of age stories, Fish Tank is a must see.
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1
The first installment of the two-part conclusion to the Harry Potter series finds the bespectacled wizard (Daniel Radcliffe) walking away from his last year at Hogwarts to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes, putting an end to Voldemort’s bid for immortality. But with Harry‘s beloved Dumbledore dead and Voldemort’s unscrupulous Death Eaters on the loose, the world is more dangerous than ever.
Rating: 4 out of 10
To call this particular episode the weakest in the series is a drastic understatement. Why is that so? Is it well directed? Yes. Is it well acted? Yes. Does it have the same high budget polish as the films preceding it? Definitely.
So, why am I rating this a lowly 4? Well, I haven’t read the book but this episode is so fucking boring that I’m lead to believe that the only reason this was split into two parts was to line the wallets of the producers. It starts interesting enough. After the death of Dumbledore, Voldemort has his group of evil do’ers take over the Ministry of Magic and hunt down Harry Potter. All of the great characters from the previous films show up to protect Harry and form a rebellion to stop Voldemort and his followers. Then, about 45 minutes to an hour in, the movie comes to a grinding halt and should have been retitled “Harry Potter and the roasting of marshmallows” because they go camping — yes, camping — for about an hour of the film. What happens during this hour or so of camping? Almost NOTHING!! Ron is mad at Harry, Hermione has sexual tension with both of them, Harry reteams with Ron, and blah de blah blah. When I say nothing happens, I’m not kidding. Nothing happens!! What does one do as a viewer for that hour while the three heroes go camping, aside from looking at our watch? I sat there and tried to think of smart ass titles for the film. “Harry Potter and the tent pitchers” “Harry Potter and the satanic sleeping bag” “Harry Potter and the struggle to interest the audience.” You get the idea. There’s a point where we literally sit and watch Harry think while there’s no dialogue. Zzzzzzz. And why did they do this? Harry Potter’s last book isn’t even the longest one, according to Google. That honor goes to Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix and they managed to turn that into a very good single film. So, what are we left with? A 2 ½ hour film with a couple bright moment marred by a middle section that will induce a coma. It’s a shame too because I can see a great hour in this flick that could have been paired with the second to create one great film. According to several Potter fans I know, the producers decided to follow the book almost word for word to create an “ultimate ending” to the franchise. There is a world of difference between a great book and a great movie. One is meant to be finished in one sitting and the other is not.
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