The Nasty Guard

» Gefangen / Locked Up (2004, Germany)

For years I avoided this movie, aware that there was a hardcore version, Eingelocht, and fearful that this less graphic version would still be an inane, plotless vehicle for gratuitous ‘erotic’ scenes – like so many WIP movies. The good news is that while it boasts shower scenes and a strip search and a rape and a stabbing in the anus and some consensual sex, it’s mostly in context. Sort of. The not-so-good news is that it is pretty much plotless, much of the acting is abysmal, and it is immediately forgettable. (more…)

Posted on December 9th, 2019 at 1:06 pm. Updated on December 9th, 2019 at 1:16 pm.

» The Number (2017, South Africa)

The Number is based on Jonny Steinberg’s non-fiction book of the same name, based in turn on interviews with Magadien Wentzel, a former high-ranking 28s gang member who served time in the Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town. Both inside and outside jail, Wentzel has, it seems, so far defied the gang’s dictum that the only way out is through death.  The film sheds light on the mysterious workings of the brutal, ritualistic, militaristic prison gangs in South Africa which maintain their traditions of well over a hundred years… and from which Magadien decides to walk away rather than see his son follow the same path. (more…)

Posted on November 23rd, 2019 at 8:27 pm. Updated on November 23rd, 2019 at 8:27 pm.

» Man of Will (2017, South Korea)

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.

» The Meanest Man in Texas (2017, USA)

It’s an extraordinary story, this one: based on the real-life story of Clyde Thompson who collected three life sentences, found God in jail, and became a prison chaplain after his release. Maybe because it’s sympathetic to him from the outset, maybe because it is so mindful of its likely audience that the portrayal of his pre-redemption ugliness is never too graphic, or maybe because Clyde never looks anything but boyish – but the message of his transformation is not as powerful as you might imagine; preaching to the converted has its downside. (more…)

Posted on August 5th, 2019 at 9:05 pm. Updated on August 5th, 2019 at 9:05 pm.

» Locked Up (2017, USA)

With a bit more imagination this could be a much better film… and still be pretty awful. (more…)

Posted on July 14th, 2019 at 1:11 pm. Updated on July 14th, 2019 at 1:15 pm.

» Great Escape from Women’s Prison (1976, South Korea / Hong Kong / Taiwan)

Also known as ‘Excessive Torture in a Female Prison Camp’ (as distinct from reasonable, permissible torture, of course), this is a film more about love and patriotism than either escape or torture. (more…)

Posted on July 3rd, 2019 at 9:35 pm. Updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 9:45 pm.

» Now Barabbas Was a Robber (1949, UK)

Now Barabbas Was a Robber - Stephen Murray as the Padre and Richard Greene as Dick Tufnell

It’s Good Friday as I’m writing this… and pondering, fittingly, the allusion to Barabbas in the title. What can it mean? One thread of the film concerns a man who has mightily affronted the authorities, and whose non-judgmental love for a prostitute has ‘healed’ her. A little familiar, you might think. But there’s no guilty rogue spared here while an innocent man goes to his death; the man awaiting execution is very much guilty (of the premeditated murder of a policeman), and none of those who walk free, or go unpunished, are of Barabbas’s ilk… and nor do they pave the way for the other man’s execution. (more…)

Posted on April 30th, 2019 at 3:39 pm. Updated on June 13th, 2019 at 3:40 pm.

» Anime perse / The Jail: The Women’s Hell (2006, Italy)

The Jail: The Women's Hell - Yvette Yzon as Jennifer Estrada, making a gruesome discovery

Somehow, this film slipped past the gatekeeper. But if I ever wanted to remind myself why I avoid exploitative Women in Prison movies, this would do the trick. (more…)

Posted on February 25th, 2019 at 3:36 pm. Updated on December 9th, 2019 at 1:12 pm.

» The Jail of No Return (1994, Hong Kong)

The Jail of No Return - Little Blackness on the bamboo bed

At first blush, this is a wacky story of an island prison somewhere in Asia, ruled by a maniacal American, and featuring much creative brutality and some innovative implements of torture; the sort of film to which adolescents might be attracted. It was a bit of a surprise to learn later that it is based on a true story from the 1960s: that of the experimental penal colony Pulau Senang, just off the coast of Singapore, and the riot which led to its closure. (more…)

Posted on February 15th, 2019 at 3:32 pm. Updated on June 14th, 2019 at 8:37 pm.

» Absolute Aggression (1996, USA)

absolute-0

It’s the future: 2011. Back in 2002 out of control tax rates had triggered a Depression, with half the population forced out of work. In response to soaring crime rates and civil unrest Congress made new offences (such as gun ownership, ho ho, tax evasion and speech code violations) capital crimes, alongside murder and treason. Smoking has become an offence against the Clean Air, Clean Minds Act (2005) and carries a minimum one-year term. And the execution of all the new Death Row inhabitants has become a mass entertainment commodity in a privatized Virtual Reality prison system. (more…)

Posted on January 12th, 2019 at 3:23 pm. Updated on June 13th, 2019 at 3:25 pm.