World Cinema Showcase 2010, part II: Fish Tank / Road, Movie / Bronson

World Cinema Showcase 2010
By Hugh Lilly

Fish Tank
Andrea Arnold | UK | 2009 | 123 mins.

Writer-director Andrea Arnold, whose first feature Red Road was a bleak, hard-nosed drama about a CCTV operator’s voyeuristic streak set in dreary Glasgow, returns with Fish Tank, which, to the surprise of many awards pundits, won the BAFTA for Best British Film this season. Katie Jarvis is phenomenal in her film début as Mia, a 15-year-old girl living in council flats whose life is massively and irrevocably changed by her mother’s new boyfriend, played by Michael Fassbender (Hunger, Inglourious Basterds). Filmed in the 1.33:1 or 4:3 aspect ratio—the squarish shape of many older TVs and computer monitors—the wonderfully claustrophobic framing is certainly one of the film’s most outstanding features.

Fish Tank screens on Thursday at 1:15 and 8:30pm, and on Sunday at 5:30pm.

Road, Movie
Dev Benegal | USA / India | 2009 | 100 mins.

Adhering to Jim Morrison’s dictum from Wayne’s World 2, “If you build it, they will come,” this sub-continental answer to Cinema Paradiso follows a young man tasked with driving his father’s truck-cum-portable movieola cross country. While initially reluctant, he eventually decides to put on a show for groups of villagers—and, unsurprisingly, these small communities are brought closer together. Intended to be obliquely about the transformative power of the moving image, the film is visually attractive but several narrative strands—such as one where a central character engages in a bit of amateur editing—simply drop off, and many of the performances feel under-rehearsed.

Road, Movie screens on Saturday at 11.15am, and on the 8th and 9th of April.

Bronson
Nicolas Winding Refn | UK | 2008 | 92 mins.

Based on the life of Britain’s most notorious prisoner, who adopted the moniker Charles Bronson while behind bars. Relentlessly violent, the film has few redeeming features: the largely aimless plot revolves around Bronson’s various attempts at jailbreak, and his numerous, occasionally nearly fatal attacks of prison guards. The film is largely pointless in narrative terms, at least: there is no story arc to speak of—the character doesn’t go on a journey, and thus there is no redemption or even cathartic release at the end. A potentially interesting formal conceit—that Bronson is telling his story, vaudeville-like, to a captive theatre audience—is left unexplored. Likely entertaining, but only as a vulgar, bloody spectacle.

Bronson screens on Monday the 5th and Tuesday the 6th of April.

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