» Affinity (2008, UK / Canada / Romania)

Affinity - Anna Madeley as Margaret Prior

After watching Affinity I have had to radically revise my understanding of imprisonment in Victorian England. Life in Victorian England.

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Posted on July 14th, 2018 at 8:14 pm. Updated on July 14th, 2018 at 8:14 pm.

» Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949, UK)

Kind Hearts and Coronets - Dennis Price as Louis D'Ascoyne Mazzini

This doesn’t seem to be on anybody’s prison movies lists. And nor, I suspect, should it be. But I was keen to have a look at it nonetheless, as it’s topped and tailed by prison scenes and the whole story is told by a condemned man due to be hanged the next morning. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on July 3rd, 2018 at 10:05 pm. Updated on July 3rd, 2018 at 10:05 pm.

» The Archer (2017, USA)

The Archer - Bailey Noble as Lauren Pierce

The 2008 ‘kids for cash’ scandal in Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County resulted in two judges, Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan, ultimately receiving sentences of 28 and 17½ years respectively for taking kickbacks from for-profit juvenile detention centres (enhanced by giving children unnecessary or excessive sentences to prolong their stays there). Children were branded as delinquents and sent to the centres for as little as mocking an assistant principal on a MySpace page, being found in a vacant building, and cursing another child’s mother, and the case is cited as the inspiration for this movie. None of the affected children, to my knowledge, were champion archers… but there were several thousand victims, so there could well have been champion archers, philatelists, lacrosse players, trichologists and kids whose other skills withered as they endured unnecessary spells in custody. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on June 14th, 2018 at 8:58 pm. Updated on June 14th, 2018 at 8:58 pm.

» La 4ª Compañía / The 4th Company (2016, Mexico)

The 4th Company - Manuel Ojeda as Colonel Chaparro in front of the Dogs, including Andoni Gracia as Combate (68) and Adrián Ladrón as Zambrano (10)

This is prison movie fusion; a football story à la The Longest Yard (1974) and (2005) and Mean Machine (2001), combined with - and in the context of - an extraordinary story of high level corruption in a Mexico City prison. It’s not entirely congruous; it’s a bit like dropping the Birdman of Alcatraz into the middle of Corcoran State Prison while ‘gladiator day’ fights as depicted in Felon (2008) are staged around him. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on June 9th, 2018 at 4:57 pm. Updated on June 9th, 2018 at 4:57 pm.

» The Plan (2015, India)

The Plan - Shreeram as Chetan, Koustubh Jayakumar as Ajay, and Hemanth as Bhaskar

Three innocent young men, framed and remanded into custody by a vindictive police officer, resolve to escape from the Madikeri District Jail before their next court appearance in 15 days. Or so it seems. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on May 28th, 2018 at 9:36 pm. Updated on May 28th, 2018 at 9:36 pm.

» Blessed Benefit (2016, Jordan / Germany / Netherlands)

Blessed Benefit - Ahmad Thaher as Ahmad Thaher Farraj

Advertised as a comedy-drama, this has all the drama and comedy of a shrug. But it’s delightful. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on May 22nd, 2018 at 8:42 pm. Updated on May 22nd, 2018 at 8:42 pm.

» Jogo de Xadrez / Chess Game (2014, Brazil)

Chess Game - Priscila Fantin as Mina

Chess. It features in so many prison films, and I’m never sure if it hearkens back to a time before TVs were allowed in prisons and prisoners were assiduous chess players, or whether it is just filmmakers’ code - a lazy shorthand way of telling the audience that this person is a master strategist. That said, only a week or so ago I visited a juvenile prison where several young Aboriginal boys were huddled around a chess board, and another giant chess set adorned the yard; maybe it’s making a comeback. In any event, there’s no chess played here, in this film. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on May 14th, 2018 at 8:58 pm. Updated on May 14th, 2018 at 9:08 pm.

» Vyfster: Die Slot / Five Star: The Final (1986, South Africa)

Vyfster: Die Slot - George Ballot as Skollie, on the run

‘Five star’ is an ironic reference to the Pretoria prison in which this film, and before it the mid-’80s, escape-filled, 14-part Vysfter TV mini-series, is set. Vyfster: Die Slot takes up, apparently, from where the mini-series rather abruptly left off. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on April 30th, 2018 at 9:20 pm. Updated on April 30th, 2018 at 9:20 pm.

» Jailbreak (2017, Cambodia)

Jailbreak -

This is the first Cambodian film (let alone prison movie) I’ve seen, so this is unfamiliar territory and ‘jailbreak’ might have a different meaning to a Cambodian audience. The prisoners here riot, are liberated from their cells, kill each other, kill guards, cause mayhem… but don’t break out of the jail, unless I missed something. I’m prepared to accept that something got lost in translation. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on April 25th, 2018 at 11:27 am. Updated on April 25th, 2018 at 11:27 am.

» The Sting II: Perfect Exchange (1993, Hong Kong)

The Sting II - Tony Ka Fai Leung as Chung Chor-Hung and Andy Lau as Mandy Chin

This is not a sequel to the 1973 film The Sting starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and seems an equally unlikely sequel to the 1992 Hong Kong film The Sting (starring Andy Lau, who appears in both apparently unconnected films in very different roles). A comedy-drama, it has, if nothing else, an English title which is much less abstruse than the literal translation of its Cantonese title - reportedly 36 Esteemed Cons: To Steal the Sky and Change the Moon. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on April 18th, 2018 at 10:02 pm. Updated on April 18th, 2018 at 10:02 pm.