» Grosse bêtise / Breakin’ Out (2001, France)

Breakin' Out - Isabelle Habiaque as Laetitia Guerin and Erwan Demaure as her son, Nicolas

The title of a film can obviously influence the lens through which you watch it. Breakin’ Out, the title chosen for this TV movie’s American release, conjures up a dramatic jailbreak: all action and tense anticipation. Its original French title, Grosse bêtise, translates as ‘gross stupidity’ and conveys a different message altogether. And the right one, in this case. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on January 28th, 2017 at 9:00 pm. Updated on January 28th, 2017 at 9:00 pm.

» Passport to Terror (1989, USA)

Passport to Terror - Lee Remick as Gene LePere

Also known as Dark Holiday, this film about an American woman in a Turkish prison invites inevitable comparisons with Midnight Express (1978). But it being about an American held in a Turkish prison is where the similarities begin and end. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on January 22nd, 2017 at 2:41 pm. Updated on January 22nd, 2017 at 2:41 pm.

» Clash by Night (1964, UK)

Clash by Night - Peter Sallas as Victor Lush, Robert Brown as Officer Mawsley, Alan Wheatley as Ronald Grey-Simmons, and Richard Carpenter as Officer Danny Watts

Clash by Night is not exactly a prison movie, but it is all about prisoners and Prison Officers. So it’s prisonny. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on January 7th, 2017 at 9:34 pm. Updated on January 7th, 2017 at 9:34 pm.

» A Violent Prosecutor (2016, South Korea)

A Violent Prosecutor - Jeong-min Hwang as prosecutor Byun Jae-wook

How many TV shows and movies have featured unorthodox police investigators being told to drop a case, yet the detective obstinately stays involved in spite of their superior’s instructions? That’s what happens here… but the investigator finishes up getting framed for the suspect’s murder. Which is perhaps not quite so orthodox. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on January 1st, 2017 at 9:52 am. Updated on January 1st, 2017 at 9:52 am.

» Fortress 2: Re-Entry (2000, USA)

Fortress 2 - Christopher Lambert as John Brennick with a touch of sunburn while in 'The Hole'

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on December 27th, 2016 at 7:31 pm. Updated on January 1st, 2017 at 9:01 am.

» Get Santa (2014, UK)

Get Santa - Jim Broadbent as Santa painting up a storm in prison

I confess I’m not the biggest fan of all things Christmassy - including, it must be said, Christmas movies. Or rather, I’m not much of a fan of the notion of Christmas movies, because I don’t think I’ve ever watched one from start to finish. Until this one. Which I rather enjoyed. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on December 25th, 2016 at 9:26 pm. Updated on December 26th, 2016 at 7:52 am.

» Vast / Inside (2011, Netherlands)

Vast - Sigrid ten Napel as Isabel

This is a short (49-minute) but poignant portrait of a 16-year-old girl in a juvenile detention centre. Perhaps the first thing to note is that ‘vast’ in Dutch does not mean expansive, but rather ‘fixed’ or ’set’; the film deals with her inability to break away from the things that have formed her - to deal with them and attempt to move on. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on December 16th, 2016 at 8:12 pm. Updated on December 16th, 2016 at 8:12 pm.

» Inside (1996, USA)

Inside - Eric Stolz as Marty Strydom and Nigel Hawthorne as Colonel Kruger

Interrogation movies generally fit into the misery porn category and, arguably, are amongst the least challenging to write. Take an innocent person, or relatively innocent person, and subject him or her to unmitigated violence and degradation. One hopes that more of the audience sides with the victims than the brutal interrogators, but you never know. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on December 10th, 2016 at 8:09 pm. Updated on December 10th, 2016 at 8:09 pm.

» Край / The Edge (2010, Russia)

The Edge - Ignat (Vladimir Mashkov)

Don’t be fooled. Although this is set in a gulag, it’s far from a movie about prison life, or labour camp life. It’s a film about one man’s passion for trains - steam trains, with a touch of romance thrown in. And a bit of concussion. ‘Concussion’ in the broadest sense imaginable, so that at times it is used interchangeably with shell shock. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on December 8th, 2016 at 8:26 pm. Updated on December 8th, 2016 at 8:28 pm.

» Samar (1962, USA)

Samar - George Montgomery as Dr John David Saunders

Oh dear. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on November 27th, 2016 at 12:16 pm. Updated on November 27th, 2016 at 12:23 pm.