RR Movies: Prisons

Anyone who has seen Making A Murderer is now cheering the release from prison of Brendan Dassey, the poor sap coerced into helping Manitowoc County police frame his uncle for murder. With a lot of luck, he may remain at liberty.

Meanwhile, here in the UK, we are discovering there may be a connection between staff numbers and prison safety. Who’d a thunk it?

So, prisons this week. Plenty of films set in them and featuring them. I’ll start off with A Prophet, a magnificently disturbing film showing what you can learn and who you can meet when you’re incarcerated.

What films about prison would you recommend?

23 thoughts on “RR Movies: Prisons

  1. The first two that i thought of i actually haven’t seen, those would be The Shawshank Redemption and Hunger. Somehow what’s left in my brain is Stir Crazy.

    The one unequivocally good thing our president has done is commute many overly harsh sentences for drug crimes. Especially in light of the fact that weed is now legal for recreational use in a few more states now, including my own. The Washington Post, every once in a very rare while capable of some genuine jouralism, has an excellent series as to how our politicians at the state and federal level, the DEA and more, have been paid off by the pharmaceutical industries, essentially geting them a blank check and minimal regulation which contributed mightily to our virulent opiate crisis. Now if the Post would only name some names.

    • Hunger is a tough watch. Good job we don’t have smell-o-rama.

      Maybe the tide is turning in the stupid US war-on-drugs. Perhaps Trump will simply see the tax dollar signs and make weed legal generally (although the vast prison slave population was a neat scam). He’s got to find the money for his tax cuts and walls from somewhere…..

      • I have a somewhat strong constitution, but i seriously doubt my ability to sit through Hunger. So it remains and brobably will be unseen by me.

        A big problem with the stupid War on Drugs here is not just the Repubs, but the ancient and fossilized Democratic regime here being toppled as we speak. Unfornately for them, they’ve allowed those wealthy and corrupt fossils to asphyxicate the party, so there isn’t a younger bench on deck either. And of course, once it gets legal, who gets to get their claws in the spoils as well. Upshot – that may be one thing that’s better left to the states for the time being. And the blue states (where it’s legal) could sure use the tax dollars. Me – i’ll take weed as a tax revenue stream and job provider over the current fetish for lottery tickets and casinos.

        Now if we could just get out of Afghanistan so we don’t have to guard all of those poppy fields for Big Pharma…

      • Y’know amy, I can’t get the fact that 42% of the US electorate didn’t vote out of my head. It really looks like dislike of Hillary has allowed a piece of poisonous slime into the White House.

      • Chris, there’s a whole lot more to it than mere dislike of Clinton. So much more. Since Obama first got elected in ’08, the Democratic party has lost over 1000 seats at the federal, state, and local level. The bulk of our population now is clustered in urban centers and on the coasts. That’s who the Dems have catered to, to the great detriment of the heartland, and the trade agreements they’ve been plugging all of these years decimated our manufacturing base and the unions.

        If you want a basic handle on the situation, you can start with Thomas Frank in the Graun, Gary Younge’s latest, Sarah Smarsh, and JD Vance.

      • And, keep in mind that it wasn’t just Clinton and the Democratic establishment that the voters were railing against, it was establishment politicians and parties across the board. The Repub party would have surely preferred almost any other candidate that Trump – Bush, Rubio, even a difficult nosehold for Cruz. But the voters in the primaries told them to go fuck themselves and went for the outsider Trump. A very large chunk of Independents (40% of registered voters, compared to roughly 30% each for Repubs and Dems, and i am one) preferred the outsider / Independent Sanders to Clinton. But due to some closed primaries in big states and rigging of them by the Clinton coalition, his showing was lower than it would have been. Chances are quite good he could have beaten Trump in the general, the polling was going that way before he dropped out. Joe Biden would have crushed Trump aross the board.

      • Believe me, I’ve read and watched quite a lot about the reasons for what happened. Yes, it was a big ‘fuck you’ to the status quo, a lot like the Brexit vote, but at least 72% of us actually voted. If Biden could have won easily, then surely it’s more about Hillary than the Democrats? It just looks like 40% of the electorate were prepared to take a chance that a demonstrably racist, sexist egomaniac who only cares about his own wealth would be elected. I’d like to say they deserve all they get but Trump will make life worse for so many people (for everybody, actually, if he abandons the fight against climate change and starts digging up coal again) that such sentiments are pointless.

      • Biden is a working class guy. And like Sanders, and unlike the Clintons, somehow hasn’t managed to become a millionaire in all his years in office. He, unlike Clinton, actually has a solid record of accomplishment in the Senate to fall back on. Like Sanders, and unlike Clinton, if he puts his word out that he’ll work for something, you can assume that he will.

        But the powers that be – that’s Obama, the DNC, the rich donor brigade, the feminist brigade- misread the electorate, and decided years ago that it was going to be Hills. Joe was missing a vagina too, although his record on women’s rights was excellent. The Clinton lined up the Super delegates long ago and Joe wouldn’t have made it in the primaries, but would have crushed it in the general. For many peopke, there was nothing to vote for in the general. Death by syphilis or gonohrhea, so fuck it, we’re dead either way.

    • Big dond. It just started on cable here. And Rendition is on later with Escape to Victory to follow! It’s like the Star Movies programme guy was in tune with Chris.
      I’ll put up another Stephen King story, The Green Mile.

  2. This is not my nom but you’ve reminded me of the 1982 film Scrubbers, which was made after the success of Scum. Both set in yoof offender places – Borstals as was. This one the female version. Cast list included Kathy Burke, Robbie Coltrane, Pam St Clement (later in Eastenders), Honey Bane (of the fatal Microbes) and Dana Gillespie! I watched it once on video and have a vague memory of liking it.

    • Oh – hang on, this one is a prison escape drama which I thought was fantastic. French film “Pour Elle” – English title was “Anything For her”. very tense, not all set inside the prison of course. There was an English language remake, “The Next Three Days”, which I haven’t seen and will (snobbishly) assume wasn’t so good.

  3. I don’t think there will ever be a better prison film than “A Prophet”, it’s so visceral, hard and real that it left a big impression on me when I first saw it, far more than “Hunger” did even though the subject matter for Hunger was arguably more shocking. I like Shawshank Redemption too but compared to “A Prophet” its like a walk in the park ! Other decent prison films include “Carandiru” (set in Sao Paulo’s largest prison, this also pulls no punches!!), I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (30s drama with Paul Muni wrongfully sent down for robbery ), “Midnight Express” (based on the true story of Billy Hayes, another visceral nightmare of a film, I still remember first seeing this at uni with 3 mates and not speaking for about an hour after we came out of it so shocked were we !!), “A Man Escaped” (brilliant Bresson film based on another true story of a Frenchman escaping the Nazis) and finally “The Grande Illusion” (Renoir’s magnificent 1st world war drama about 2 Frenchmen escaping a German prisoner of war camp)

  4. I am going to nom Midnight Express, which I really enjoyed when it came out back in the 1970s. I saw it again recently and, although I was expecting to find it dated, it was still an impressive and powerful piece of film-making by Alan Parker.

  5. The first one that came to mind was Down By Law. I love the focus on the characters and of course Jarmusch’s usual idiosyncratic stylings.

    Have never heard of A Prophet, but looks like another one to add the ever-expanding list. I’m almost keeping my commitment to watch a film a day. I only managed half of one last night, but had watched two the night before to make up for it!

      • It definitely looks like my kind of thing…my viewing plans for ‘serious’ highbrow stuff keep getting sidetracked though….I’m not sure I actually needed to watch ‘Sausage Party’, but I’m kind of glad I did!

  6. I’m not in a very fit mental state for too much prison movie thinking, so Chicken Run was the first thing that popped into my head, and Stir Crazy was the second!
    Trouble is – at the moment – I’d probably opt for the quick ‘two week experimental option’ rather than a long drawn out sentence and end up all Clockwork Orange.

  7. Just read this: “Brendan Dassey’s immediate removal from prison has been blocked by an appeal filed by Wisconsin’s attorney general Brad Schimel.”

    Maybe, one day, all the fuckers involved in trying to keep Brendan Dassey and Stephen Avery in jail will be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice (unlikely in the next four years, I suspect). The only small mercy is that the victims are white; they’d be dead otherwise.

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