» Incoming (2018, USA / Serbia)

So… In a rare show of unity, all the world powers agree on imprisoning and torturing six men suspected of being members of the terrorist group Wolf Pack, which has claimed responsibility for the bombings of Big Ben, the Colosseum, and the Taj Mahal, just to name a few. It’s agreed that they will be detained in a top secret black site, in order that they might be interrogated to give up the name and the whereabouts of their leader. Rather than find some non-partisan and accessible part of the world in which to locate their prison, they set it up on a space station and leave one erratic British man, on his own, in charge of, well… everything. Makes perfect sense. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on October 30th, 2020 at 10:49 pm. Updated on October 30th, 2020 at 10:49 pm.

» One Way Ticket (1997, Australia)

I think it must have been 1997 when I first saw this… after which, for some reason, I forgot about it entirely. On rewatching it I was reminded, in part, of Heartlock (2018) – another excellent and more recent tutorial in ‘downing a duck’ (corrupting an officer) – and of my recent comments about the relative lack of tension in real-life escape re-enactment movies like Escape from Pretoria (2020), where the outcome is very much known. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on October 10th, 2020 at 4:27 pm. Updated on October 10th, 2020 at 4:27 pm.

» Velikiy uteshitel / The Great Consoler (1933, USSR)

This is not a film to watch during a pandemic. Much of the action takes place in a shared cell, in which one of the prisoners is coughing and spluttering and dying from tuberculosis. No-one is wearing a mask, no-one practises social distancing (although the cell is admittedly very roomy), the prison is not locked down, and a major outbreak looms. But there are other, (intended) horrors which make this an interesting early talkie. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on September 27th, 2020 at 10:58 pm. Updated on September 27th, 2020 at 10:58 pm.

» A cavallo della tigre / Riding the Tiger (2002, Italy)

I understand, to a degree, the attraction of updating this classic. There are quite a few departures from the original, so it’s not an exact remake, but I can’t think of one of those changes that would amount to an improvement on A cavallo della tigre (1961). Other, perhaps, than this being in colour. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on September 12th, 2020 at 8:09 pm. Updated on September 12th, 2020 at 8:18 pm.

» Swamp Women (1956, USA)

Swamp Women starts with the extraordinary premise that a prison warden would cooperate with a police request to allow three high-profile inmates to escape from their prison in order to help the police recover a cache of stolen diamonds. It’s a murky start and just gets murkier. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on September 5th, 2020 at 2:36 pm. Updated on September 5th, 2020 at 2:36 pm.

» Prigione di donne / Riot in a Women’s Prison (1974, Italy)

“I don’t want to get to be you and stagnate and finish here… I don’t want to grow old living in here,” says prison novice Martine Fresienne (Martine Brochard) to her cellmates. What her pronouncement lacks in diplomacy, it makes up for in wackiness. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on August 30th, 2020 at 7:39 pm. Updated on August 30th, 2020 at 7:39 pm.

» Prividenie, kotoroe ne vozvrashchaetsya / The Ghost That Never Returns (1929, USSR)

To say that I’m more interested in what prison movies say about the prison experience than cinematic techniques, or the development of film as a medium, is, well… stating the bloody obvious. That probably makes it harder for silent movies, like this one, to make an impression… unless its intertitles are simply exceptional. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on August 22nd, 2020 at 2:12 pm. Updated on August 22nd, 2020 at 2:12 pm.

» Penguins Behinds Bars (2003, Canada)

At last! A prison movie that knows its plaice! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on August 19th, 2020 at 10:20 pm. Updated on August 19th, 2020 at 10:20 pm.

» Prisoner Maria: The Movie (1995, Japan)

One feature of the Australian quasi-biopic, Chopper (2000), is the (real-life) ‘Overcoat Gang’ – so named because its prisoner members wore big overcoats, even in summer, in which they would conceal shivs, iron bars and other weapons, or at least give the impression to their enemies that they were tooled up, even when unarmed. Overcoats kept coming to mind as I watched this very different type of movie. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on August 15th, 2020 at 1:55 pm. Updated on August 15th, 2020 at 1:55 pm.

» Jailbreak (1936, USA)

If it weren’t for the fact that the dead body doesn’t materialise until the 34th minute of this 60-minute movie, this could be a classic whodunnit – there’s a cop prone to overstepping the mark and barking up the wrong tree, a brash investigative reporter cast in the Miss Marple role, the requisite number of shifty-looking suspects, and plenty of red herrings. Mind you, I can’t remember Miss Marple ever having a love interest. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on August 8th, 2020 at 11:46 am. Updated on August 8th, 2020 at 11:46 am.