I’ve been dudded, I’m afraid. Nearly all the internet synopses of this film say things like, “a paroled ex-con tries to go straight and reform a brutal reform school, only to face a frame-up courtesy of the school’s corrupt warden.” But it’s not a reform school at all, but a place to which boys from reform school are paroled (and the ‘paroled ex-con’ is not on parole, and the frame-up is not chiefly the warden’s doing). Anyway, this has the dubious honour of having absolutely no prison in it at all, although when the uniformed guards use their batons against the residents, it does seem a little like a juvenile jail. Oh well.
Posted on February 4th, 2017 at 3:43 pm. Updated on February 4th, 2017 at 3:43 pm.
Who could forget the original Fortress (1992) and its magnificent intestinator? There’s nothing in this sequel to match it, sadly, although each prisoner does receive a new behaviour-modifying neural implant that also expropriates the optic nerve and allows ZED, the prison’s all-knowing computer, to relay each prisoner’s vision onto staff-monitored screens. Which is sort of handy. (more…)
Posted on December 27th, 2016 at 7:31 pm. Updated on January 1st, 2017 at 9:01 am.
“I never realised how much I took freedom for granted until it was taken away.” So says ex-cop, ex-prisoner and narrator Gillian Kaites (Melanie Coll), explaining her lust for freedom. Don’t expect anything deeper. (more…)
Posted on November 1st, 2016 at 9:45 am. Updated on November 1st, 2016 at 11:02 am.
Inside the first 20-odd minutes one prisoner gets shot dead after holding a toy gun at a guard who was about to rape her, a prisoner with whom the Warden is having a sexual relationship is killed by other prisoners for being a snitch, an African-American prisoner is sliced up by prisoners in an all-white cellblock, and the Warden and Guard Captain are separately implicated in corrupt drug activity. And there’s a shower scene. This film is not afraid of action. Or cliché. Or exploitation. (more…)
Posted on October 16th, 2016 at 2:19 pm. Updated on October 16th, 2016 at 2:19 pm.
The Traveling Executioner depicts what may be the earliest example of outsourcing correctional services; I can’t, off the top of my head, think of an earlier one. (more…)
Posted on August 26th, 2016 at 9:51 pm. Updated on August 26th, 2016 at 9:51 pm.
Bret Michaels, one time lead singer of the glam metal band Poison, wrote this movie, directed it, produced it, starred in it and wrote and performed the soundtrack to it. He might also have done the makeup and manned the food van. If you’re a diehard fan of Bret Michaels, you’ll probably like this. If not… (more…)
Posted on August 8th, 2016 at 9:59 pm. Updated on August 8th, 2016 at 9:59 pm.
The Last Castle has many of the hallmarks of a Shawshank; a classic battle of strategy between principled prisoner and corrupt warden, an imposing prison setting (the magnificent, fortress-like Tennessee State Penitentiary), and similar production values. But it doesn’t quite have the same impact… maybe because its message is a little muddier. (more…)
Posted on July 21st, 2016 at 9:14 pm. Updated on January 1st, 2017 at 9:02 am.
It might have been because I kept switching between election updates and the football scores while watching this, but it didn’t have the impact on me that I presume its makers wanted. Or maybe - despite me knowing virtually nothing about the pre-war Russian penal system - it was because it seemed more like a cheap re-creation of a village pokey than the Siberian gulag I had somehow preconceived.
Posted on July 9th, 2016 at 5:52 pm. Updated on January 1st, 2017 at 9:02 am.
Fans of Akira Kiuchi have every right to feel cheated. Kiuchi plays Sayaka Mizschima - the Inmate 611 of the title - but gets to say, by my reckoning, just six words (maybe fewer in Japanese) in the entire film (’Five’ when counting off, ‘M’am’, ‘No, m’am’, and ‘I’m terrible’ when asked about her ping pong prowess). There is way more ping pong than Sayaka. (more…)
Posted on June 26th, 2016 at 1:49 pm. Updated on June 26th, 2016 at 1:49 pm.
An odd, boring film. Oddly boring. On the basis of a number of reviewers bemoaning the lack of lesbian sex and shower scenes, I thought that this might be a women’s prison movie with something to say. It isn’t and doesn’t. It does, however, aim to educate, giving a helpful rundown on the prisoners’ day and explaining various aspects of prison life - such as that the reception process is known as ‘red fall’ because inmates used to wear red clothing, and that prison food is known as ‘Mossou chow’, a mossou being the bowl from which the food is eaten. These are useful pieces of information. But all this illumination is interrupted by several less edifying and rather tedious sex scenes where the gratuitous wearing of underwear and draped bedclothes adds substantially to the degree of difficulty. And very little else happens in the rest of the film. (more…)
Posted on June 18th, 2016 at 8:57 pm. Updated on June 26th, 2016 at 1:57 pm.