From a distance, the post-apartheid South Africa after Nelson Mandela was elected in 1994 appeared to be an exemplar of how two sides of a civil war might be united. Its Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) appeared a model for how a new democratic government might deal with human rights violations perpetrated by both sides, the oppressors and the oppressed, and from that build an inclusive future for all. Up a weeny bit closer, The Forgiven shows some of the fragility of that new order as it seeks to establish itself; the persistence of deep-seated racism, the attempts to undermine the process, and the toll taken on the TRC as it bore the weight of expectations from both the black and white communities. Oh, and all of that in prison. (more…)
Posted on April 3rd, 2020 at 8:59 pm. Updated on April 3rd, 2020 at 9:06 pm.
Tomorrow’s Joe is a reworking, 40+ years down the track, of the boxing manga Ashita no Joe, which had already inspired a 79-episode TV series, two feature films (one anime) and another spin-off. It’s a Rocky-esque rags-to-not-quite-riches underdog story, with prison setting the tone for what is to come. (more…)
Posted on March 13th, 2020 at 11:17 am. Updated on March 19th, 2020 at 3:49 pm.
So, the whole shocking story of Alcatraz’s 29-year life as a Federal Penitentiary comes down to just two incidents, does it – the May 1946 failed escape attempt known as the ‘Battle of Alcatraz’, and the June 1962 escape bid that may or may not have been successful? Oh, and a bit of filler in-between about Clarence Carnes and Robert Stroud. Nothing else, it seems, was shocking, or part of the whole Alcatraz story. (more…)
Posted on March 7th, 2020 at 8:14 pm. Updated on March 7th, 2020 at 8:14 pm.
This latest Alcatraz film is ‘inspired by real events’. It is low budget and low on authenticity. It is also, sadly, at the low end of the interest scale. (more…)
Posted on February 24th, 2020 at 6:49 pm. Updated on February 24th, 2020 at 6:49 pm.
Two themes run throughout this short movie: the betrayal of women by men, and sleaze. Sleaze, I think, wins. (more…)
Posted on December 22nd, 2019 at 11:33 am. Updated on December 22nd, 2019 at 11:33 am.
Several years ago I copped some mild abuse after suggesting that Billy Hayes, the hero of Midnight Express (1978) – a film that shares more than a few things in common with this one – might have got off lightly by escaping so soon into his sentence for smuggling a large quantity of hashish. It’s the same moral dilemma here; addict Dwight Worker (Timothy Bottoms) is caught smuggling cocaine at Mexico City’s airport in 1973, and yet two years into a seven-year sentence we catch ourselves cheering him on in his audacious bid to escape from the notorious Lecumberri Prison. Both films retell true life stories. (more…)
Posted on November 17th, 2019 at 8:27 pm. Updated on November 17th, 2019 at 8:27 pm.
“Look, I sure wasn’t the first to admit it. But there are things that you and the other women officers can do in a prison that a man can’t do. They look at a man in this uniform and their gut response is that it’s the enemy. They look at a woman in this uniform and their gut response is it’s still a woman. That’s what women can do for a prison.” (more…)
Posted on November 8th, 2019 at 7:21 pm. Updated on November 8th, 2019 at 7:21 pm.
O.G. is not quite OMG!; it’s too quietly intense, too much of a slow-burn. But it’s an outstanding prison movie. (more…)
Posted on October 27th, 2019 at 11:24 am. Updated on June 21st, 2020 at 5:25 pm.
Man of Will retells the real-life story of nationalist hero Kim Chang-Soo, who much later, as Kim Koo, became the sixth and last Premier of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea. But the film doesn’t bother with any of the irrelevant stuff, concentrating instead on what was really important: the two years he spent in jail. (more…)
Posted on October 7th, 2019 at 8:40 pm. Updated on October 7th, 2019 at 8:40 pm.
I’m not really interested in the nags, despite my great-grandfather having been a highly respected horse-breaker, and like Dr Paul Gendreau I’m a little sceptical of the direct impact that animal programs have on recidivism, no matter what amazing things they can do for the prison environment. But this evocative, beautifully shot film brings two old-fashioned occupations – horse-breaker and criminal – together in splendid fashion, and no-one really gives a toss whether there are fewer criminals in the world because some have learned to break horses. (more…)
Posted on September 3rd, 2019 at 9:31 pm. Updated on September 3rd, 2019 at 9:31 pm.