» The Traveling Executioner (1970, USA)

The Traveling Executioner - Mariana Hill as Gundred Herzallerliebst and Stacy Keach as Jonas Candide

The Traveling Executioner depicts what may be the earliest example of outsourcing correctional services; I can’t, off the top of my head, think of an earlier one.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on August 26th, 2016 at 9:51 pm. Updated on August 26th, 2016 at 9:51 pm.

» Apprentice (2016, Singapore / others)

Apprentice - Firdaus Rahman as Aiman Yusof

Aiman (Firdaus Rahman) is a prison officer. He is in his late twenties and lives with his older sister, Suhaila (Mastura Ahmad), in a modest flat. He doesn’t approve of her Australian boyfriend, and she doesn’t approve of his job. And she has good reason; their father was convicted of a gruesome murder committed before Aiman was even born, and then hanged. All those years on, it’s still raw. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on August 20th, 2016 at 8:27 pm. Updated on August 20th, 2016 at 11:36 pm.

» A Letter from Death Row (1998, USA)

A Letter from Death Row - Bret Michaels as Michael Raine

Bret Michaels, one time lead singer of the glam metal band Poison, wrote this movie, directed it, produced it, starred in it and wrote and performed the soundtrack to it. He might also have done the makeup and manned the food van. If you’re a diehard fan of Bret Michaels, you’ll probably like this. If not… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on August 8th, 2016 at 9:59 pm. Updated on August 8th, 2016 at 9:59 pm.

» Spoiler (1998, USA)

Spoiler - Gary Daniels as the 'spoiler' Roger Mason

“The most exciting breakout movie of all time,” the DVD blurb claims. Well, not quite. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on July 23rd, 2016 at 10:45 pm. Updated on July 23rd, 2016 at 10:45 pm.

» The Last Castle (2001, USA)

The Last Castle - Robert Redford as General Eugene Irwin and Paul Calderón as Dellwo

The Last Castle has many of the hallmarks of a Shawshank; a classic battle of strategy between principled prisoner and corrupt warden, an imposing prison setting (the magnificent, fortress-like Tennessee State Penitentiary), and similar production values. But it doesn’t quite have the same impact… maybe because its message is a little muddier. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on July 21st, 2016 at 9:14 pm. Updated on July 21st, 2016 at 9:14 pm.

» उंबरठा / Umbartha (1982, India)

Umbartha - Smita Patil as Sulabha Mahajan

You’d think that after a long 2½ hours watching one woman’s painful journey towards self-realisation that I’d have some idea of what the facility was that she left her husband and child to run. But I didn’t.

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Posted on July 14th, 2016 at 10:35 pm. Updated on July 16th, 2016 at 2:31 pm.

» Under Jakob’s Ladder (2011, USA)

Under Jakob's Ladder - Jeff Stewart as Jakob Seel

It might have been because I kept switching between election updates and the football scores while watching this, but it didn’t have the impact on me that I presume its makers wanted. Or maybe - despite me knowing virtually nothing about the pre-war Russian penal system - it was because it seemed more like a cheap re-creation of a village pokey than the Siberian gulag I had somehow preconceived.

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Posted on July 9th, 2016 at 5:52 pm. Updated on July 9th, 2016 at 5:52 pm.

» Hellcage: Inmate 611 Part 2 (2007, Japan)

Hellcage: Inmate 611 Part 2 - Harumi Nemoto as Reika Wada and

Fans of Akira Kiuchi have every right to feel cheated. Kiuchi plays Sayaka Mizschima - the Inmate 611 of the title - but gets to say, by my reckoning, just six words (maybe fewer in Japanese) in the entire film (’Five’ when counting off, ‘M’am’, ‘No, m’am’, and ‘I’m terrible’ when asked about her ping pong prowess). There is way more ping pong than Sayaka. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on June 26th, 2016 at 1:49 pm. Updated on June 26th, 2016 at 1:49 pm.

» Hellhole: Inmate 611 (2007, Japan)

Hellhole: Inmate 611 - Akira Kiuchi as Sayaka Mizushima and Jaguar Yokota as Guard Keiko Mikawa

An odd, boring film. Oddly boring. On the basis of a number of reviewers bemoaning the lack of lesbian sex and shower scenes, I thought that this might be a women’s prison movie with something to say. It isn’t and doesn’t. It does, however, aim to educate, giving a helpful rundown on the prisoners’ day and explaining various aspects of prison life - such as that the reception process is known as ‘red fall’ because inmates used to wear red clothing, and that prison food is known as ‘Mossou chow’, a mossou being the bowl from which the food is eaten. These are useful pieces of information. But all this illumination is interrupted by several less edifying and rather tedious sex scenes where the gratuitous wearing of underwear and draped bedclothes adds substantially to the degree of difficulty. And very little else happens in the rest of the film. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on June 18th, 2016 at 8:57 pm. Updated on June 26th, 2016 at 1:57 pm.

» Back Door to Heaven (1939, USA)

Back Door to Heaven - Wallace Ford as Frankie Rogers

pa·thos \ˈpā-ˌthäs, -ˌthȯs, -ˌthōs n. 1. quality in speech, writing, events &c., that excites pity, sympathy, sadness 2. this film. It’s full of it. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on June 14th, 2016 at 9:55 pm. Updated on June 14th, 2016 at 9:55 pm.