HORROR THE DESCENT (18) 97min 0000
Summer isn't normally a time for horror fans to be indulged but British director Neil Marshall is happy to drag us underground in the follow up to his sublime 2002 debut Dog Soldiers. proving once again that rt is actually possible to take an overly familiar plotline and infuse it Willi energy. humour and bloodlust. On top of this lhe Descent is that rare thing — a genuinely British horror film, boasting as it does solely British funding and location work.
Like Jaume Darkness Balaguero. Jorge Sang/e Eterna Olguin or Alexandre Switchblade Romance Aja. Marshall is an emerging director who hasn't squandered his increased budget but he s delivered an original story that expects its audience to rise from a drooling franchise-aiid-remake-
l’Oll’fMlC CULl PUNISHMENT PARK (15) 88min 0..”
‘Revolution is not something fixed in ideology, nor is it something fashioned to a particular decade. It is a perpetual process embedded in the human spirit. ’ Abbie Hoffman (1936-1989), American political activist and author and co-founder of the Youth International Party (Yippies)
If the revolution will not be televised, then at least we can be sure that the genocide that follows it will be. Peter Watkins’ remarkable, largely unseen 1971 pseudo documentary, or ‘figurative depiction in a documentary style’, examines a 48 hour period in the tribunal halls and imaginary anti-insurrection parks in California during the Nixon administration. Draft evaders, demonstrators, anti-war militants and assorted free thinkers have been apprehended because “there is reasonable ground to believe that they probably will engage in possible acts of sabotage in the future’. This was hardly a stretch of the imagination in 1971 - the Kent State University riots, anti-Vietnam war sentiment and disparagement of an aged Republican government had the US silent majority of squares on the run. The idea of reasserting parentally violent restrictions on ‘out of control young radicals’ would clearly appeal to reactionary classes.
Criss crossing between Corrective Group 637 in the
46 THE LIST l" 2‘ Jul 2005)
and-sequel-induced stupor to appreciate a smart, fresh and exhilarating genre movie.
Unlike Dog Soldiers, however, The Descent's humour is sparse. opting instead for a grimmer tone right from the horrific opening sequence after which the first half of the movie settles into backstOry on each of the women
as they prepare for their annual adventure holiday. caving in the Appalachians.
Once underground and trapped by rock fall, the group begins to Splinter. tensions raised when Juno (Natalie Jackson Mendoza). the expeditions organiser, confesses that a bad call on her part has turned a difficult situation into a life threatening one and all six are now at the mercy of something that lives. breeds and feeds in the darkest places.
None of the usual gender laziness is at play here — they don't need boys to rescue them, no one breaks a nail and they aren‘t burdened with wide-eyed angelic children to rescue just to balance their maternal and survival instincts. Cornered. hunted and increasingly desperate. the girls behave. mostly, like smart women in seven kinds of trouble. They are. after all. chicks with picks. (Adele Hartley) I General release from Fri 8 Jul.
desert with the tribunal examination of the members of Group 638, Punishment Park shows both the bureaucratic and military cruelty meted out on cerebral insurgents. The scenario is set up so that the single camera (handled by the brilliant camera woman Joan Churchill) is acknowledged by the cast members as if it were a real television crew. What follows is direct, occasionally hysterical and terribly prescient - the siege of Fallujah comes to mind, as do the Seattle riots and the iniquities committed by the staff at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. In short, even at this remove Punishment Park seems like a stunningly depressing prophecy, the only conclusion to be reached from which is how little we have learnt in the 30 odd subsequent years.
A masterpiece of a kind, Punishment Park belongs to that small group of cherishable US indie film polemics from the 19705, like Haskell Wexler’s Medium Cool and Robert Kramer’s Ice. But unlike those films, Punishment Park is - as writer Joseph A Gomez recently pointed out in a postscript to his excellent 1979 biography of Watkins — ‘an experimentation with realism and expressionism, with documentary and metaphor', factors that have ‘helped to make this film universal and, alas, all too prophetic’. Punishment Park is seminal political cinema of the highest order. (Paul Dale)
I F i/rnhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 75— Mon 78 Jul only. (9/ l, Glasgow on Wed 20 and Thu 2f July only.
ANIMATION/COMEDY MADAGASCAR (U) 86min «u
‘I feel like a mile high, pastiami on rye, on the fly. from the deli in the skyl' roars Alex the lion (Ben Stiller). You'll feel pretty good too after this frisky animation, which offers a metaphorical simplicity that rewards audiences of any age. And the jungle theme of Madagascar also allows the cheeky chimps at [)reamWorks to fling poo at a variety of pop culture targets including lom Wolfe. Planet of the Apes. Lord of the Flies. Aiiie/ican Beauty and most obviously The Lion King.
Madagascar opens With steak loving Alex enjoying his pampered existence in New York's Central Zoo. His friends. Marty the zebra (Chris Rock). Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the hypochondriac giraffe (David Schmimmer) discover that the crafty penguins are planning a breakout. and set off for Africa to reconnect with their inner animals. But interaction with a tribe of lemurs (including Sasha Baron Cohen i_)erforrning Reel 2 Real's ‘I like to Move It') uncovers the bitter truth about Alex's carnivorous nature. leading to the poignant guestion ‘Wliat's a simple bite on the lruttocks between friends 2'
Like the cute but criminally llllll' led penguins. Mar/again far '53 surface fluffiness conceals a hard boiled philosophical centre as it offers a trenchant examination of social Darwrnism, most obviously in a blackly comic montage of nature's Cruelty set to Louis Armstrong's 'lt's a Wonderful World'. And in animal form. Stiller. Hock. Pinkett and Scli\'.:iiiiiiiei all seem more appetising that their live action counterparts could exer he. (Eddie Harrison)
I General release from l'ii l5 Jll/.
DRAMA ROMANCE. ONE LOVE (12A) 100min 00
Virtuoso British director Don I etts made his name Willi gritty documentaries on the t onden punk scene. l-lis marvellous essay on the Clash appears on the 20th anniversary edition of their Ll’ l ondon (falling. lhe strong musical influence on his work has found its way onto One I ore, as did his piewous fictional effort Dance/ial/ Queen. for both these films, Letts employed the assistance of Rick Elgood as co director. set the events in Jamaica and used a visual and