The Mess Hall

» The Bid (2021, USA)

Isn’t social media supposed to be this untamed thing that encourages edgy, boundaries-pushing comedy; providing a counterpoint to traditional ‘mainstream entertainment’? It’s disappointing, then, that this movie by Maurquis Boone and Richard ‘Filthy Rich’ Harris – who, it seems, have forged successful careers in social media and who wrote, directed and starred in this low-budget comedy – tends to mimic the more tired and tiresome of mainstream offerings. (more…)

Posted on July 4th, 2021 at 11:58 pm. Updated on July 4th, 2021 at 11:58 pm.

» 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.

(more…)

Posted on June 6th, 2021 at 10:37 pm. Updated on June 6th, 2021 at 10:37 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. (more…)

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

» Brothers (1977, USA)

This is a ‘thinly disguised’ account of the prison life of Soledad Brother George Jackson, part of which takes in his romance with activist Angela Davis. It’s an unheralded ’70s prison movie that deserves more heralding, even if it loses a bit of momentum once prisoner and professor meet and start cheesily narrating their letters to each other accompanied by a laid-back R&B soundtrack. (more…)

Posted on December 27th, 2020 at 3:29 pm. Updated on December 27th, 2020 at 3:29 pm.

» They All Come Out (1939, USA)

I’m all for prison movies, and other media, spruiking the good things that prisons do, and not just wallowing in the damage they cause and the mayhem that is created within them. But this film should come with a warning about it being a paid advertisement for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. (more…)

Posted on November 3rd, 2020 at 9:43 am. Updated on November 3rd, 2020 at 9:43 am.

» 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. (more…)

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

» Penguins Behinds Bars (2003, Canada)

At last! A prison movie that knows its plaice! (more…)

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

» Escape from Pretoria (2020, UK / Australia / USA / South Africa)

The difficulty with an escape movie based on a real-life escape is that you know the outcome even before the action starts. Whatever suspense that might be built into the story – the risks taken, the panicky times when they are nearly discovered, the obstacles that threaten the plot’s success – you know will amount to nothing. Come to think of it, that applies to virtually every escape movie, true or otherwise. Every action movie, in fact.  (more…)

Posted on August 1st, 2020 at 8:49 pm. Updated on August 1st, 2020 at 8:49 pm.

» Women Without Names (1940, USA)

This story seemed a little familiar, and it took me some time to work out that it is a reworking of Ladies of the Big House (1931), both films based on the same play by Ernest Booth, written while he was serving a sentence in San Quentin. In all, Booth served around 30 years in prison, so he knew more than most about the caper… but less about women’s prisons, one would imagine. And even less about happy endings, you’d think, but he knew enough about successful theatrical formulae to make sure his story had one.  (more…)

Posted on July 11th, 2020 at 4:48 pm. Updated on July 11th, 2020 at 4:48 pm.

» Larceny (2017, USA / Mexico)

Dull and implausible seems to be the consensus of those who have seen this film, also known – a little bewilderingly – as Maximum Security. And yes, dull and implausible it is. (more…)

Posted on May 14th, 2020 at 12:27 pm. Updated on May 14th, 2020 at 12:35 pm.