» 死囚 / The Condemned (1976, Hong Kong)

The Condemned - Hung Tsai as Feng Da-Gang

I’d very much like to say that there was an interesting subtext to this movie; the contamination in prison of non-violent men placed with violent offenders, perhaps. But, no, this is a straightforward good guys v. bad guys story; a revenge story. With lots of fighting. Lots. But none in prison. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on October 15th, 2018 at 8:33 pm. Updated on October 15th, 2018 at 8:43 pm.

» Verfehlung / The Culpable (2015, Germany)

Verfehlung - Sebastian Bloomberg as Fr Jakob Völz and as Fr Dominik Bertram

Three priests walk into a bar. They have been friends for years, and celebrate over a few drinks; Fr Oliver Grondek (Jan Messutat) has been newly promoted into a senior role within the church. Fr Jakob Völz (Sebastian Blomberg) is a prison chaplain, but is promised a more prominent role as Oliver’s ‘city deacon’. And Fr Dominik Bertram (Kai Schumann) is soon to be taken off for questioning in relation to sexual offences against an adolescent boy, Mike, the only child of a single mum and in whom he has taken a special interest through the parish Youth Club he runs. As this is a film that critically examines the Catholic Church’s treatment of its paedophile priests, the punchline is that Fr Dominik is not disbarred. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on October 10th, 2018 at 8:53 pm. Updated on October 10th, 2018 at 9:02 pm.

» Hard Justice (1995, USA)

Hard Justice - Jim Maniaci as Mr Clean holding up David Bradley as Nick Adams, with Alon Stivi as the guard Riggs with his PR24 ('The Ugly Stick')

Back in October 2017 Alex Greenwood wrote to me to see if I could identify a movie from a grainy still he had found on the internet of a bald guy in prison fight scene. Being notoriously poor at such things (and, it turns out, not having seen the movie, or even heard of it), I was unable to assist. But Alex persisted, and persisted… and found it himself. And this is it, fighting bald guy and more.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on October 6th, 2018 at 5:34 pm. Updated on October 6th, 2018 at 5:34 pm.

» Maze (2017, Ireland / Sweden / others)

Maze - Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as Larry Marley

When Sir James Hennessy, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons, set out his findings and recommendations into the September 1983 escape of 38 IRA prisoners from HMP Maze, he identified (not surprisingly) a multitude of failures. One of which was the selection of a number of prisoner orderlies, whom he noted “adopt(ed) a deliberate policy of conditioning staff to reduce their alertness”. And one of those, whose name does not appear in the abridged online version of Hennessy’s report, was Larry Marley - considered the mastermind of the escape, yet who remained in the prison while his 38 associates fled the prison crammed into a food delivery lorry. Despite his pivotal role in the escape, Marley was released in 1985 - and it is his story that is featured here. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on September 28th, 2018 at 3:56 pm. Updated on September 28th, 2018 at 3:56 pm.

» Furlough (2018, USA)

Melissa Leo as Joan Anderson and Tessa Thompson as CO Nicole Stevens

A big hurrah for a film that shows another side of prison life - a prisoner’s escorted deathbed visit to her dying mother - instead of the standard fare of power plays, fight clubs, corruption and shankings. Hurrah! Then the reservations. It’s a comedy, not of the laugh-out-loud variety, undermined by how safe and comfortable it all is; tricky issues are avoided or resolved a bit too painlessly, and awkward prison matters don’t even register. If it weren’t for the shackles, the correctional officer uniform and the obligatory karaoke-singing Warden, you might even forget that it involves a prisoner under escort. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on September 15th, 2018 at 4:19 pm. Updated on September 15th, 2018 at 4:19 pm.

» Underdogs (2007, Germany)


Six cute Labrador puppies. Six tough prisoners. And one particularly closed off, violent prisoner who has absolutely no interest in resocialisation, but whose outlook is changed by the meeting of the two. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on September 1st, 2018 at 8:21 pm. Updated on September 1st, 2018 at 8:28 pm.

» Crown Heights (2017, USA)

Crown Heights - Lakeith Stanfield as Colin Warner

“Please don’t let it be a cell.” So says Colin Warner on waking each day. But for 21 years, it is. And he’s innocent. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on August 19th, 2018 at 8:37 pm. Updated on August 19th, 2018 at 8:39 pm.

» Revolver (1973, Italy / France / Germany)

Revolver - Oliver Reed as Vito Cipriani

“Society has many ways of defending itself: red tape, prison bars, and the revolver.” So says a French lawyer to his Italian client, ex-homicide detective and current prison warden Vito Cipriani (Oliver Reed), who is in a bit of a pickle. The gist of the lawyer’s, um, unorthodox advice is that the revolver might need to take precedence in dealing with that particular type of defensive pickle. And explains why the movie isn’t called ‘Red Tape’. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on August 11th, 2018 at 6:28 pm. Updated on August 11th, 2018 at 6:28 pm.

» Gridiron Gang (2006, USA)

Gridiron Gang - David Thomas as Kelvin Owens and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson as Sean Porter

After Kenny Bates (Trever O’Brien), one of the inmates at LA’s Camp Kilpatrick juvenile detention center, has an upsetting visit with his mother and is sitting on his own, distressed, Sean Porter (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) - who is not employed as a football coach (but is putting a team together) - seeks him out. “What’s going on, buddy?” “It’s my mom. Things are just so messed up. It gets so I just hate her.” “No you don’t.” “I just want my mom to love me, you know?” “I know. I know. Know what I was thinking? How about we try you out at receiver?” “Good. You mean like I’d be catching the ball?” “Sometimes. Mostly blocking.” “That’d be cool.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on August 2nd, 2018 at 9:36 pm. Updated on August 2nd, 2018 at 9:36 pm.

» Infinity Chamber (2016, USA)

Infinity - Christopher Soren Kelly as Frank Lerner

Advanced security technology is one thing. A little commonplace, arguably. Advanced technology that simultaneously mines your mind for inculpating memory traces and exercises a basic duty of care is another. And is less commonplace. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on July 25th, 2018 at 10:00 pm. Updated on July 25th, 2018 at 10:00 pm.