The Stabbing

» The Forgiven (2017, UK)

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.

» Alcatraz (2018, UK / USA)

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.

» 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.

» Women of San Quentin (1983, USA)

“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.

» Revenger (2018, South Korea)

Revenger is an action movie. A fight movie, to be more precise, co-written by the main fighter to showcase his martial-arts skills, not his acting ability. Don’t expect much else. (more…)

Posted on September 21st, 2019 at 10:06 pm. Updated on September 21st, 2019 at 10:06 pm.

» The Mustang (2019, USA / France / Belgium)

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.

» P Storm (2019, Hong Kong / China)

The fourth movie in the Storm franchise [following on from Z Storm (2014), S Storm (2016), L Storm (2018), from which I have been successfully sheltered in each case, and not counting the yet-to-be-released G Storm], this again features William Luk Chi Lim (Louis Koo) as a super-committed investigator from Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).  (more…)

Posted on August 27th, 2019 at 9:57 pm. Updated on August 27th, 2019 at 10:10 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.

» Escape Plan: The Extractors (2019, USA)

The third in the Ray Breslin Escape Plan series, this represents a major departure from the others; while the first two relied on his famed security expertise to be able to find the flaws in even the highest-tech, most secure prisons, this one takes him to an old-school, low-tech prison (played by the dilapidated Ohio State Reformatory, built in 1886) to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a Chinese technology tycoon. (more…)

Posted on July 24th, 2019 at 9:27 pm. Updated on July 24th, 2019 at 9:38 pm.