» Alive (2002, Japan)

Alive - Hideo Sukaki as Tenshu Yashiro

What you do, apparently, if you have a woman who has inherited a particularly nasty isomer from her father that is eating away at her humanity, is find two condemned men and pit them against each other in the hope that the isomer will attach itself to the one who most wants to kill the other. That’s the gist of things here.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on November 23rd, 2014 at 5:34 pm. Updated on November 23rd, 2014 at 5:38 pm.

» Ha’Bodedim / The Loners (2009, Israel)

The Loners - Anton Ostrovsky as Sasha Bluchin and Sasha Agrounov as Glori Campbell

The Loners is a classic tragedy. It charts the fall of two proud, patriotic soldiers accused of treason, and follows them through a doomed prison insurrection. Over nothing. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on November 18th, 2014 at 9:23 pm. Updated on November 18th, 2014 at 9:23 pm.

» Blackwell’s Island (1939, USA)

Blackwell's Island - Stanley Fields as 'Bull' Bransom takes in his new prison surroundings

The opening credits of Blackwell’s Island contain the standard disclaimer about no resemblance to any person living or dead being intended, but without the resemblance to actual persons and events this film would be decidedly more silly than it already is. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on November 10th, 2014 at 7:57 pm. Updated on November 10th, 2014 at 7:57 pm.

» House of Whipcord (1974, UK)

House of Whipcord - Sheila Keith as officer Walker and Penny Irving as Anne-Marie de Verney

There are private prisons, and then there are private prisons. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on November 3rd, 2014 at 6:37 pm. Updated on November 5th, 2014 at 7:49 pm.

» La Révolte des Enfants / The Children’s Rebellion (1992, France)

The Children's Rebellion - Loïc Even as The Thinker and Michel Aumont as Uncle

It’s 1847, and juvenile offenders, waifs and strays are being transferred from La Roquette children’s prison in Paris to the Colonie de Grande-Île in Brittany. It’s a “Fatherly Home, not a penal colony,” insists the reform school’s idealistic warden, Monsieur Alexis (André Wilms). And to underscore the homeliness, his deputy (Michel Aumont) is required to be referred to as Uncle and all the other staff are known as Cousins. It all sounds really very jolly. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on October 26th, 2014 at 3:45 pm. Updated on October 27th, 2014 at 7:50 pm.

» Son of a Gun (2014, Australia)

Son of a Gun - Ewan McGregor as Brendan Lynch

Sadly, this is a crime thriller, not a prison movie. It’s also a movie about strategy, but not as much as its laboured chess metaphor would want you to believe. It’s more of an old fashioned shoot ‘em up heist movie, with liberal doses of intrigue and black humour, and a master-apprentice theme. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on October 21st, 2014 at 9:22 pm. Updated on October 21st, 2014 at 9:22 pm.

» Come il vento / Like the Wind (2013, Italy / France)

Like the Wind - Valeria Golino as Armida Miserere

Most prison movies that focus on prison governors or wardens, rather than prisoners - of which Duffy of San Quentin (1954) is perhaps the best example - are little more than indulgent testimonials. Not this one.

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Posted on October 17th, 2014 at 10:12 pm. Updated on October 17th, 2014 at 10:12 pm.

» Way Back Home (2013, South Korea)

Way Back Home - Jeon Do-yeon as Song Jeong-yeon

The South Koreans certainly love a good prison tear-jerker - Miracle in Cell No. 7 (2013), for instance, and Harmony (2010) - both of which also star young children, as does this weepy. But Way Back Home is also very reminiscent of Hell In Tangier (2006) and Left to Die (2012), both of which feature prisoners in third-world prisons overseas, hampered by inept, judgmental and disinterested embassy officials, and eventually released after persistent media campaigns. As this one does. The point of difference from the last two is that in this case the prisoner is guilty. Of stupidity, at the very least.

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Posted on October 14th, 2014 at 9:30 pm. Updated on October 14th, 2014 at 9:30 pm.

» Devil’s Canyon (1953, USA)

Devil's Canyon - Virginia Mayo as Abby Nixon and Dale Robertson as Billy Reynolds

The crossover between westerns and prison movies is not a common one; Hellgate (1952) and There was a Crooked Man… (1970) being the only other examples I can readily bring to mind. Even in this film, once the scene-setting shootout between men in ten-gallon hats is dispensed with very early in the piece, it settles down into a standard prison movie. Well, as standard as you can get where there is one female prisoner in an all-male jail.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on October 5th, 2014 at 5:01 pm. Updated on October 14th, 2014 at 9:48 pm.

» Six - The Mark Unleashed (2004, USA)

Six - The Mark Unleashed - Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Tom Newman

When I saw the publicity for this film refer to “the edge of Armageddon” and a small band of rebel prisoners’ “only true hope of salvation in a condemned world”, I didn’t think it was talking about the literal (i.e. Biblical) Armageddon. Or that ’salvation’ meant ‘Christian salvation’. But that’s exactly what is meant.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on September 28th, 2014 at 2:55 pm. Updated on September 28th, 2014 at 3:02 pm.