Andrea Arnold seems up for a fight. Certainly her lead characters are.
Andrea Arnold seems up for a fight. Certainly her lead characters are. At the start of Fish Tank teenage hothead Mia sears across her housing estate to find a friend who’s failed to return her calls. After discovering the friend dancing with a bunch of girls she doesn’t like she ends up headbutting one of them before pounding off in anger.
Similar scenes take place in most of Arnold’s films, particularly with characters glowering as they detonate towards or implode from a confrontation. Natalie Press striding across dessicated grass with a naked child under her arm in the short film Wasp; Kate Dickie taking the lift down from a tower-block flat, her motives finally uncovered in Red Road; James Howson smacking his head against the wood in Wuthering Heights. This sense of real people with lightning-rod temperaments sparking with grounded emotions as they prowl through their communities powers her work.
What Arnold is actually about befuddles. What exactly is she fighting for? Everybody struggles to peg her, often plumping for the ghost of British social realism. After all her films have tower blocks in them… Even her period adaptation of Emily Brontë novel Wuthering Heights made the Earnshaw’s moorland farmhouse feel like social housing. Yet it is an uneasy fit. Certainly her films to date have strong female characters in them, who often seem to be stomping through council estates. (more…)
24 January 2012
Small Deaths won Lynne Ramsey the Prix du Jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1996. Watch it and you see why. In this graduation short film three events play out in the life of a Scottish girl. First in Ma & Da we bear witness to her realisation that her parent’s relationship may be dysfunctional. (more…)
Does Thomas Clay have a style of his own? His best known film, The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael, raised headlines for its shocking finale with many critics citing imitation to soften the blow, from Michael Haneke to Theo Angelopoulos. Motion, his feature debut from 2001, came across like the shotgun wedding between Ken Loach and Terry Gilliam. While his most recent, Soi Cowby, used an Apichatpong Weerasethakul narrative switcheroo before bounding off into David Lynch territory. Clay’s technically brilliant but describing his cinematic signature causes strife. (more…)
Melancholia seeps into Black Pond as much as laughter. There’s a wistful moment in this debut British feature where a father talks to a family friend about love down the pub. The father imparts painful wisdom to his companion over a drink, acknowledging that love is the greatest until it simply fades away. Regret seeps from his voice with every phrase. The kicker being that the father is played by Chris Langham, an actor with more than his share of personal regrets. (more…)