The New Fish

» Gulag (1985, USA)

Galag - David Keith as Mickey Almon and Malcolm McDowell as 'The Englishman' Kenneth Barrington

I’ve seen a surprising number of people (OK, four, maybe) write in to movie sites asking for the name of the prison movie where an innocent American man escapes a Russian prison in a secret compartment in a truck or a train. I’m nor sure why it’s quite so forgettable or, if it is, why people later want to retrieve its name. This is the film; it’s called Gulag, and it’s a train, not a truck. (more…)

Posted on January 22nd, 2018 at 8:45 pm. Updated on January 22nd, 2018 at 8:45 pm.

» Lucknow Central (2017, India)

Lucknow Central - Deepak Dobryal as Victor Chattopadhyay, Rajesh Sharma as Purushottam Madan Pandit, Farhan Akhtar as Kishen Mohan Girhotra, Inaamulhaq as Dikkat Ansari and Gippy Grewal as Parminder ('Pali') Singh Gill

I’m not the most ardent fan of modern Bollywood productions; most are too long for my liking (this one weighs in at just shy of 2½ hours) and I generally find the musical interludes grating and intrusive. But at least in Lucknow Central (and Qaidi Band, another just-released Indian film about the formation of a jail band) music is integral to the plot, and (despite what was an apparently poor reception from Indian filmgoers) it’s a far-from-disastrous prison film. (more…)

Posted on December 31st, 2017 at 9:07 pm. Updated on January 12th, 2018 at 8:35 pm.

» Shot Caller (2017, USA)

Shot Caller - Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jacob 'Money' Harlon, joining a riot

Shot Caller might be one of those rare films that I enjoyed in spite of itself. Or myself. (more…)

Posted on December 14th, 2017 at 8:53 pm. Updated on December 14th, 2017 at 8:53 pm.

» Pixote (1981, Brazil)

Pixote - Fernando Ramos da Silva as Pixote

Pixote: A Lei do Mais Fraco (‘the law of the weakest’) is celebrated for (or rather enjoys a reputation for) its unrelenting grimness. And for good reason. If you looked in the dictionary and it said: gr?m a. harsh, joyless, pixotish – you probably wouldn’t baulk… provided that you didn’t know that Pixote is sometimes translated as PeeWee, which doesn’t sound quite so grim.

(more…)

Posted on October 5th, 2017 at 8:19 pm. Updated on October 5th, 2017 at 8:19 pm.

» Ozzy (2016, Spain / Canada)

Ozzy - Ozzy is led into the cellblock for the first time

Ozzy isn’t quite the new Toy Story 3 (2010); it lacks much of the cleverness and multi-dimensional appeal of the earlier animated feature. But as another heart-warming movie about discarded anthropomorphic beings longing to be reunited with their families, it happily shares something of the same vibe. (more…)

Posted on September 21st, 2017 at 9:56 pm. Updated on September 21st, 2017 at 9:56 pm.

» The Prison (2017, South Korea)

The Prison - Han Suk-Kyu as Jung Ik-ho (front), with (at left) Kim Rae-won as Song Yu-gon and (at right) Jo Jae-yoon as Hong-pyo

There is much that is familiar in The Prison. It owes a good deal to The Guys from Paradise (2000) and On the Job (2013) – both films about prisoners sneaking out of prison to commit major crimes, and then sneaking back in with perfect alibis – yet it somehow manages to be very much its own film. It features a cop and a kingpin. And copious amounts of corruption. (more…)

Posted on September 5th, 2017 at 10:18 pm. Updated on September 5th, 2017 at 10:18 pm.

» A Prayer Before Dawn (2017, France / UK)

A Prayer Before Dawn - Joe Cole as Billy Moore

‘Locked up in a Turkish prison’ has been the most reliable shorthand description of the horror of being a foreigner locked up abroad (or of any worst imaginable horror, really), probably since Midnight Express (1978). But the ordeal of Briton Billy Moore in A Prayer Before Dawn might have a few people viewing Thai prisons as the new high water mark. Or low water mark.

(more…)

Posted on August 12th, 2017 at 8:55 pm. Updated on August 29th, 2019 at 8:49 pm.

» Star Slammer (1986, USA)

Star Slammer - Suzy Stokey as Mike and Sandy Brooke as Taura

You have to feel for the prison ship’s newest prisoner, Taura (Sandy Brooke). Not only is she (vaguely) innocent, but she has to wear a different, more revealing uniform to every other prisoner and sport a horrible ’80s perm. Mind you, she’s not on her Pat Malone on that last count. (more…)

Posted on August 4th, 2017 at 9:23 pm. Updated on August 4th, 2017 at 9:31 pm.

» Wrath of the Crows (2013, Italy)

Wrath of the Crows - Tiffany Shepis as Princess, with Domiziano Arcangeli as Larry in the background

Wrath of the Crows is an Italian, English-language religious-fantasy-horror production, featuring one of those boutique prisons that looks like a real prison from the wide outdoor shots, but like the entire prison consists of just five movie set cells and only two staff once the action moves inside. And, to my surprise, a lot of people don’t seem to mind such things. (more…)

Posted on May 27th, 2017 at 8:51 pm. Updated on May 27th, 2017 at 8:51 pm.

» Éperdument / Down by Love (2016, France)

Down by Love - Guillaume Gallienne as Major Jean Firmino and Adèle Exarchopoulos as Anna Amari

‘Distractedly’ is the English translation of this film’s French title. How does a prison director fall for a prisoner not much more than half his age? Distractedly, derangedly, stupidly. (more…)

Posted on May 10th, 2017 at 9:11 pm. Updated on May 10th, 2017 at 9:11 pm.