» Alien 3 (1992, USA)

Alien 3 - Sigourney Weaver as Lt Ellen Ripley

By chance, an article appeared in my Saturday paper about Sigourney Weaver and the strong women she has played. It drove me to rescue Alien 3 from a stack of unwatched DVDs, where it had languished for many years, and finally check it out. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on July 18th, 2017 at 9:54 pm. Updated on July 18th, 2017 at 9:54 pm.

» The Hangman: Shepherds and Butchers (2016, South Africa)

The Hangman: Shepherds and Butchers - Garion Dowds (second from left) as Leon Labuschagne and other exhausted guards after wrestling seven resistant prisoners to the gallows

“You cannot ask a man to be both shepherd and butcher at the same time,” spits defence counsel John Weber (Steve Coogan) in his closing address to the judge and his two assessors. On trial is a teenaged prison guard and father, Leon Labuschagne (Garion Dowds), accused of killing seven black African footballers one rainy night. There is no doubt he shot and killed the men, but Weber asks the Court to find that Labuschagne’s actions were the direct result of the inherent trauma in his job: caring for men on Death Row, reading the Bible to them, dealing with their families, then taking their measurements, leading them to the gallows, and even rehanging them if the first drop did not produce the desired effect and the condemned man was being strangled slowly at the end of the rope. Both shepherd and butcher. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on July 9th, 2017 at 1:13 pm. Updated on July 9th, 2017 at 1:13 pm.

» From the Queen to the Chief Executive (2001, Hong Kong)

From the Queen to the Chief Executive - David Li as Cheung Yau Ming

With Hong Kong’s approaching transition from British sovereignty to that of the People’s Republic of China providing an intriguing backdrop, this is an oddly dispassionate film highlighting the plight of 23 juvenile offenders sentenced to be held at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. They are serious offenders who would rather a definite sentence - and a release date - than the uncertainty as to when the Government might choose to release them, and the attendant fear that they might ultimately be treated more harshly than adults under the same circumstances. And they worry whether the elected Chief Executive in the new special administrative region of China will be less benevolent than his British predecessor, Governor Chris Patten, so they push for a decision prior to 1 July 1997. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on June 30th, 2017 at 11:05 pm. Updated on June 30th, 2017 at 11:05 pm.

» Tomorrow La Scala! (2002, UK)

Tomorrow La Scala! - Jessica Stevenson as the director, Victoria

Who would think that getting a bunch of murderers involved in a prison production of Sondheim’s musical adaptation of Sweeney Todd - the vengeful, serial murdering barber - would be a good idea? Why not get the local chapter of Sexaholics Anonymous to make up the chorus of Don Giovanni as well? But not only is this the basis of this BBC production, it appears - extraordinarily - that it was inspired by just such a production in which its director, Francesca Joseph, was involved. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on June 22nd, 2017 at 10:01 pm. Updated on July 17th, 2017 at 10:20 pm.

» Moron 5 and the Crying Lady (2012, Philippines)

Moron 5 and the Crying Lady -

It’s a colossal problem for one-joke comedies when the one joke is not not particularly funny. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on June 11th, 2017 at 8:53 pm. Updated on June 11th, 2017 at 9:13 pm.

» The Evil Gene (2015, USA)

The Evil Gene - Cameron Richardson as Dr Dana Ehrhart and Richard Speight Jr as Agent Griff Krenshaw

Low budget horror: three words that should strike trepidation into each and every audient. But The Evil Gene manages to come up with a twist or two that sets it apart from many others, which is to say that it is not an unmitigated disaster. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on June 3rd, 2017 at 9:56 pm. Updated on June 3rd, 2017 at 9:56 pm.

» Wrath of the Crows (2013, Italy)

Wrath of the Crows - Tiffany Shepis as Princess, with Domiziano Arcangeli as Larry in the background

Wrath of the Crows is an Italian, English-language religious-fantasy-horror production, featuring one of those boutique prisons that looks like a real prison from the wide outdoor shots, but like the entire prison consists of just five movie set cells and only two staff once the action moves inside. And, to my surprise, a lot of people don’t seem to mind such things. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on May 27th, 2017 at 8:51 pm. Updated on May 27th, 2017 at 8:51 pm.

» Mean Frank and Crazy Tony (1973, Italy)

Mean Frank and Crazy Tony - Tony Lo Bianco as Tony Breda and Lee Van Cleef as Frankie Diomede

This is also known as Escape from Death Row, but why, I’m not sure. For starters, there is no Death Row, and secondly, why would you even bother to seek an alternative title to Mean Frank and Crazy Tony, for goodness’ sake? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on May 17th, 2017 at 9:33 pm. Updated on May 17th, 2017 at 9:41 pm.

» Éperdument / Down by Love (2016, France)

Down by Love - Guillaume Gallienne as Major Jean Firmino and Adèle Exarchopoulos as Anna Amari

‘Distractedly’ is the English translation of this film’s French title. How does a prison director fall for a prisoner not much more than half his age? Distractedly, derangedly, stupidly. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on May 10th, 2017 at 9:11 pm. Updated on May 10th, 2017 at 9:11 pm.

» Millionaires in Prison (1940, USA)

Millionaires in Prison - Chester Clute as Sidney Keats and Raymond Walburn as Bruce Vander.. unable to conceal their reaction to the food

How do five millionaires behave when they land in prison at the same time? “I see no reason why the Warden should object to uniforms by our own tailor,” moans Harold Kellogg (Thurston Hall), pulling at his ready-made prison uniform. “.. No style, poor material and probably even secondhand,” whines his partner-in-crime, Bruce Vander (Raymond Walburn), in total agreement. And there are plenty more jolly japes as the rich newcomers turn up their noses at the prison food and bunk beds, have to do manual labour… and mix with poor people. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on May 4th, 2017 at 10:30 pm. Updated on May 4th, 2017 at 10:30 pm.