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.
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.
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.
Cynical, arrogant, foppish star lawyer Konrad von Seidlitz (Kai Wiesinger) engineers a 14 day spell in prison for himself by refusing to pay traffic fines – a stunt to protest being fined in the first place, and to give his legal firm some free publicity (celebrating his act of civil courage). And to demonstrate that he can do time in prison easily. (more…)
Posted on June 2nd, 2019 at 3:41 pm. Updated on June 13th, 2019 at 3:42 pm.
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 June 13th, 2019 at 3:37 pm.
A “combination of commercialism and penal reform” is how prison Warden Bledsoe (Hal Orlandini) describes the “unique experiment” that is his women’s prison’s operating model. It’s not unique, one suspects, and it’s not penal reform, but it is commercial: the renting out of its prettier prisoners at the local bordello. (more…)
Posted on December 15th, 2018 at 9:13 pm. Updated on December 15th, 2018 at 9:20 pm.
As far as low budget horror films go, this one by the Quiroz Brothers is not so bad. As far as low budget death row horror films go, it is not about a death row, per se, and the term ‘horror’ doesn’t exactly fit, either. But it is decidedly, indisputably, inescapably low budget. (more…)
Posted on February 18th, 2018 at 12:37 pm. Updated on February 18th, 2018 at 12:41 pm.
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.
For starters, I’m not sure why this horror movie is called The Chair. Yes, there is an electric chair, but it doesn’t make an appearance until the last few minutes of the film, and it doesn’t even loom large over the preceding action. It’s a little like calling The Shawshank Redemption ‘The Beach.’ (more…)
Posted on November 25th, 2017 at 9:13 pm. Updated on November 25th, 2017 at 9:13 pm.
A young kid with a bit of potential but a tough upbringing starts up a criminal gang with three of his mates. Much later, in his late teenage years, he (with another of his gang) is caught red-handed inside a shop they are burgling; he gets two years in prison, plus six cuts with a heavy cane. He survives by reading and writing letters and telling stories. His mate is not so lucky; he is repeatedly raped and becomes a gang leader’s wyfie (woman). After his release the young man’s fortuitous pursuit of a romantic interest narrowly saves him from joining his other three gang members in a criminal exploit that goes horribly wrong. The others nonetheless elect him as the fall guy, but once the trial begins they belatedly, and ruefully, admit that he wasn’t there. They hang. He doesn’t. It’s a story that takes almost 2½ hours to tell. (more…)
Posted on November 16th, 2017 at 9:22 pm. Updated on November 16th, 2017 at 9:22 pm.