» Heart, Baby (2017, USA)

Someone did this film a great disservice in giving it the alternative title of The Hammer, presumably to make it appeal to a broader audience. It makes it sound very much like a testosterone-filled boxing movie, but boxing plays second fiddle to what really matters. Maybe even fourth or fifth fiddle.

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Posted on June 6th, 2021 at 10:37 pm. Updated on June 6th, 2021 at 10:37 pm.

» 40 Sticks (2020, Kenya)

This thriller is so eerily similar in parts to the Spanish film, Below Zero (2021), that you have to wonder whether a scriptwriter somewhere between Spain and Kenya – in Algeria, perhaps – was touting the outline of the story to film producers in all directions, and it got picked up by two filmmakers simultaneously. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on April 27th, 2021 at 10:42 pm. Updated on April 27th, 2021 at 10:42 pm.

» Clemency (2019, USA)

This might be the best death row movie there is going around. It’s not as tear-jerking as the suite of South Korean anti-capital punishment films (such as The Executioner and Harmony, of many). But its premise is less tricky to apprehend than that of Apprentice, for example, or Monster’s Ball, The Quare Fellow or The Hangman: Shepherds and Butchers. It’s unrelentingly unsettling and discomforting. And powerful.

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Posted on April 8th, 2021 at 10:44 pm. Updated on April 8th, 2021 at 10:44 pm.

» The Haunting of Alcatraz (2020, UK)

It’s a huge shame when you set your film in Alcatraz in the 1930s and 40s, only to find that sending your long-haired, bearded actor to the barbershop will blow the entire production budget of £57.99. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on March 15th, 2021 at 8:18 pm. Updated on March 15th, 2021 at 8:18 pm.

» King of the Damned (1935, UK)

If honourable mentions were handed out for well-meaning prison movies, this might get one. Not because it’s a great film (it’s certainly not that), but because it tries, honourably, to draw parallels between the struggle of prisoners against an oppressive regime, and the struggle of undervalued workers against their oppressive capitalist masters. In the end, sadly, the metaphor detracts from any real impact it makes as a prison drama. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on March 7th, 2021 at 9:21 pm. Updated on March 7th, 2021 at 9:21 pm.

» El túnel de los huesos / Tunnel of Bones (2011, Argentina)

“Dreams defeat you more than the cops or the informers.” So says Vulcano (Raúl Taibo), an old school criminal who has committed 50 armed robberies on armoured vehicles, banks and other targets, and is serving a very hefty sentence as a result. But you can’t help thinking that it’s the informers who pose the biggest risk of defeating him in his latest venture.

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Posted on February 17th, 2021 at 10:28 pm. Updated on February 17th, 2021 at 10:28 pm.

» Bajocero / Below Zero (2021, Spain)

When I think of prison escort vehicles being ambushed in prison movies, I ready myself for two escaping prisoners who don’t like each other (but who are handcuffed together) to start bickering as they attempt to run in different directions. This Netflix film, thank goodness, has none of that… and, for an action-thriller, of sorts, wonderfully manages to defy the predictability of its ending until its ending.  It’s a little different on a number of fronts. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on February 2nd, 2021 at 10:27 pm. Updated on February 2nd, 2021 at 10:34 pm.

» Fanged Up (2017, UK)

I think that this is the first romantic comedy I’ve seen where the couple spend a fair whack of the film drenched in the blood of exploding vampires. I may be wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on January 27th, 2021 at 10:46 pm. Updated on January 27th, 2021 at 10:46 pm.

» Pacto de Fuga / Jailbreak Pact (2020, Chile)

Tunnelling movies? We have them in spades. Here is another one, and a good one at that. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on January 16th, 2021 at 10:39 pm. Updated on January 16th, 2021 at 10:39 pm.

» Girls of the Big House (1945, USA)

Up until this film, ‘Big House’ had always conveyed the notion of a ‘penitentiary’ to me. I now know that ‘Big House’ can also mean ‘big house’. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on January 11th, 2021 at 10:10 pm. Updated on January 11th, 2021 at 10:10 pm.