» Starred Up (2013, UK)

Starred Up - Jack O'Connell asEric Love

Eric Love (Jack O’Connell) is 19, ’starred up’ (transferred to adult prison prematurely from juvenile prison), and out to make a splash. On his first day he violently attacks an unsuspecting fellow prisoner, puts himself into a state of Bronson-esque arousal for the ensuing fight with prison officers and finishes up holding one officer hostage with an aerial at his throat and then gripping another’s privates between his teeth. I don’t know too many prisons that would allow him to just go back into the wing after that… even as an outcome negotiated for the officers’ release, but back to the wing he goes, the new prison Governor a little peeved that she hadn’t been advised of his arrival. It’s a mark of this film that it’s able to overcome that initial credibility gap and still be an exceptional prison movie.

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Posted on August 30th, 2014 at 4:38 pm. Updated on August 30th, 2014 at 4:38 pm.

» Circuit 2 (2003, USA)

Circuit 2 - Olivier Gruner as Dirk Longstreet aka Jim Morrison

Also known as The Circuit 2: The Final Punch. Except it’s not the final final punch - the temptation to make Circuit III being just too great. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on August 29th, 2014 at 10:00 pm. Updated on August 29th, 2014 at 10:00 pm.

» The Godless Girl (1929, USA)

The Godless Girl -

Cecil B De Mille directed this epic silent film - an unashamed advertisement for Godfulness. Not surprisingly, given its title, it features a godless girl, but it’s more about her conversion to the God-positive side, than focusing on all the nastiness and trouble that her godlessness brings. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on August 16th, 2014 at 7:07 pm. Updated on August 16th, 2014 at 9:29 pm.

» Kala Pani (1996, India)

Sazaa-E Kaala Paani - Mohanlal as Govardhan Menon

Kala Pani* is described as an ‘epic’ film. It’s a long film, at 2 hours 40 minutes. Even if you edited out the songs (which are slightly at odds with the movie’s dark themes, anyway), the choreographed, vaguely comical fight scenes and the gratuitous model photo-shoot scenes of the main character’s beautiful fiancée… it would still be long. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on August 9th, 2014 at 11:02 pm. Updated on August 9th, 2014 at 11:02 pm.

» Prison (1988, USA)

Prison - Ivan Kane as Joe 'Lasagna' Lazzaro and Viggo Mortensen as Burke

I put off watching this movie for years, thinking for some reason that - despite its title - it had not much to do with prison, a little like Ingmar Bergman’s 1949 film of the same name. That was a little foolish, in retrospect, a bit like expecting no music in The Sound of Music or no dogs in Reservoir Dogs. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on August 1st, 2014 at 9:11 pm. Updated on August 1st, 2014 at 9:11 pm.

» Instinct (1999, USA)

Instinct - Anthony Hopkins as Dr Ethan Powell and friends

It’s easy to see how this came to be conceived, with its echoes of The Silence of the Lambs (1991), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), and Gorillas in the Mist (1988). And it’s easy to see why it never quite reaches the heights of those movies (or at least the first two). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on July 26th, 2014 at 11:55 pm. Updated on July 27th, 2014 at 12:02 am.

» The Daring Young Man (1935, USA)

The Daring Young Man - James Dunn as Don McLane and Warren Hymer as Pete Hogan

Scandal and the penitentiary on New York’s Welfare Island (known as Blackwell’s Island prior to 1921 and Roosevelt Island since 1971) went pretty much hand-in-hand in the 1930s. The prison was overcrowded and run by two rival gangs. Narcotics and corruption were rife. In 1932 the warden attempted to mediate a truce in his office, but it ended badly and the boss of one of the gangs was stabbed to death - leading to a riotous battle between the warring parties. The prison was described as a ‘country club for the chosen few gangsters’ and when Mayor LaGuardia’s corrections commissioner, Austin H MacCormick, raided the prison in January 1934, his officers found one mob leader, Joie Rao, occupying an entire floor in the hospital with his own staff, including a personal barber and chef, and his lieutenants able to remove their cell doors so that they were not locked in. All the prisoners were soon relocated to the new prison on Rikers Island. It’s this prison at which this comedy pokes a bit of gentle fun.

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Posted on July 18th, 2014 at 11:33 pm. Updated on July 18th, 2014 at 11:33 pm.

» The King of Jail Breakers (2009, Japan)

The King of Jail Breakers - Itsuji Itao as Masayuki Suzuki

I can’t recall another prison movie in which the main character says not a word throughout the whole film. Well, not one made after 1929, anyway. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on July 11th, 2014 at 8:59 pm. Updated on July 11th, 2014 at 8:59 pm.

» She Made Them Do It (2013, USA)

She Made Them Do It - Jenna Dewan Tatum as Sarah Jo Pender

It’s quite possible that nothing much is going right for Sarah Jo Pender; she might or might not be guilty of a double murder in 2000 for which she is serving 110 years in prison, and there’s a good chance she’s still in solitary confinement after escaping from Indiana’s Rockville Correctional Facility in August 2008. But at least she can sit back be well pleased that they chose Jenna Dewan Tatum to play her in this made-for-TV film; the choice flatters her immensely. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on July 6th, 2014 at 7:50 pm. Updated on July 6th, 2014 at 7:59 pm.

» Jamesy Boy (2014, USA)

Jamesy Boy - Spencer Lofranco as James Burns

“And I don’t think I let the people in my life down by making the wrong choices. I think I let them down by convincing myself I never had a choice to begin with.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on June 27th, 2014 at 10:16 pm. Updated on June 27th, 2014 at 10:23 pm.