3 items from 2014
Written and directed by Peter Watkins
Images of the heavy-handed police response to protests of the fatal shooting of unarmed Missouri teenager Michael Brown have re-ignited discussion about the increasing militarization of U.S. police forces.
They are also reminiscent of this indelible image from Punishment Park, a powerful faux documentary that brought police militarization to its extreme but inevitable conclusion over 40 years ago.
While hardware is a large part of the Ferguson story, Punishment Park’s $95,000 budget (per the original press kit, which is included with a 2005 DVD release) perhaps precluded director Peter Watkins from equipping the cast with anything quite as threatening, but the film’s impacted is hardly blunted. The press kit insists “Punishment Park takes place tomorrow, yesterday or five years from now. It is also happening today.” And this can still be said of it.
Punishment Park is not only a prescient »
- Steven Fouchard
“Under the provision of Title 2 of the 1950 Internal Security Act, also known as the McCarran Act, the President of the United States of America is still authorized, without further approval by Congress to determine an event of insurrection within the United States and to declare the existence of an “internal security emergency”. The President is then authorized to apprehend and detain each person as to whom there is reasonable ground to believe probably will engage in certain future acts of sabotage. Persons apprehended shall be given a hearing, without right of bail, without the necessity of evidence and shall then be confined to places of detention.”
- Chris Cummings
Found footage films get a bad rap - and worse reviews. But the genre combines the vitality of punk rock with the reach of a video viral, and it has earned, if not respectability, then at least a respectful reappraisal. Some found footage (hereafter Ff) films are, admittedly, unwatchable (see The Devil Inside or, better, don't). But others, such as recent West Country-set religious chiller The Borderlands, or Bobcat Goldthwait's creepy Bigfoot hunt Willow Creek (out on May 2), are closer to unmissable.
Beyond an ominous title card, Ff films require little backstory, and the genre has only a brief history of its own. An uncompromising, hand-over-the-camera-lens look at totalitarianism in Vietnam-era America, Peter Watkins' 1971 mock-doc Punishment Park is considered Ff's chief forebear. Ruggiero Deodato's still-troubling Cannibal Holocaust (1979), however, is the most striking early archetype. Following a gonzo film crew into tribal Amazonia, it puts video-nasty atrocities through a film-school filter, »
3 items from 2014
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