The New Fish

» Salute! (2017, Namibia)

Salute! is a prison film that deserves more than casual attention; it was, in part, written by inmates from the Windhoek Correctional Facility after the story was workshopped there, it was filmed at the prison, and the cast includes prisoners as well as civilian actors. But those assets are probably also its biggest weaknesses. (more…)

Posted on February 20th, 2022 at 4:22 pm. Updated on February 20th, 2022 at 4:25 pm.

» Lokillo en: Mi Otra Yo (2021, Colombia)

First things first: Lokillo is the name by which comedian Yédison Flórez is better known, and ‘Mi Otra Yo’ translates as ‘My Other Self’. The word ‘lokillo’ conveys a sense of a little bit mad; a little bit loco. And a little bit loco, in this case, is a man pretending to be a woman in a women’s prison, partly for witness protection purposes and partly as an undercover informant. Comedy gold. (more…)

Posted on December 11th, 2021 at 9:08 pm. Updated on December 11th, 2021 at 9:08 pm.

» 3000 Layla / 3000 Nights (2015, Palestine, Jordan, France and others)

Some have heralded this representative story of one Palestinian woman wrongly imprisoned in Israel, as (aside from the overt political message) a triumph of the human spirit. It could be that, or it could just be a quiet tribute to that woman’s goodness and resilience.


Posted on October 24th, 2021 at 3:37 pm. Updated on October 24th, 2021 at 3:37 pm.

» La nuit des rois / Night of the Kings (2020, Ivory Coast / Canada / France / Senegal)

Although this is very much set in present day Ivory Coast, it has the form of an Elizabethan drama, augmented by a Greek chorus; a cultural and temporal potpourri. It might not work magnificently, but magnificently, it works. (more…)

Posted on August 24th, 2021 at 8:14 pm. Updated on August 24th, 2021 at 8:14 pm.

» Femmine in Fuga / Women in Fury  (1984, Italy / Brazil)

This is based on a true story. Allegedly. A beautiful young woman, Angela Duvall (Suzane Carvalho), stupidly takes the rap for her morally dissolute, heroin-addled brother, Sergio, who has killed a drug pusher. A third man at the scene would seem to have much to lose should Angela identify him, and he evidently has lots of friends in high-up places who can make life difficult for her. She is given 18 years in the nick, and thrown to the wolves. (more…)

Posted on May 30th, 2020 at 5:59 pm. Updated on May 30th, 2020 at 5:59 pm.

» Shaun the Sheep (2015, UK / France / USA)

1. I know it’s not a prison movie; the prisonny bits are not the main game. 2. I know that prisonny bits are not exactly prison, either; the pedantic would call it an animal containment centre, or pound, or shelter for lost, seized and abandoned (read ‘socially disadvantaged’) animals. 3. I don’t care. The containment centre is a prison and is full of wonderful prison clichés. But I do have to admit that it’s a little unusual for a jailer to personally pursue his detainees after they have escaped. (more…)

Posted on April 11th, 2020 at 11:10 pm. Updated on April 11th, 2020 at 11:10 pm.

» Alcatraz: The Whole Shocking Story (1980, USA)

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.

» 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.

» Escape (1980, USA)

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.