Alive

Alive (2002)

Alive first published by Film4 Summary: In Ryuhei Kitamura’s dystopian prison sci-fi, it is not just the humans who are trapped inside and looking to get out.  Review: If Ryuhei Kitamura exploded into the world of cult cinema with his low-budget feature debut Versus (2000), a moviegeek’s wet dream of yakuza gunplay, samurai set-pieces and zombie gore,…

Bronson

Bronson (2008)

Bronson first published by Little White Lies, 20th Feb 2009 “You’re a very sweet man, Charlie,” says Irene (Kelly Adams), “but you’ve got no ambition.” It is hard to know whether to agree or disagree with Irene’s assertions. Charlie (Tom Hardy) may be blessed with a roguish grin and a charismatic naïveté, but he is…

No Man Of God

No Man Of God (2021)

No Man Of God first published by VODzilla.co No Man Of God begins at its end, in 1989, with a TV news report stating that “after an exhausting series of appeals that lasted ten years, Ted Bundy is dead” – executed in the electric chair at the Florida State Prison. In this way, Amber Sealey’s…

No Looking Back

No Looking Back (Otorvi i vybros) (2021)

No Looking Back (Otorvi i vybros) had its North America première at SXSW 2022 The intent of Kirill Sokolov‘s arresting feature debut Why Don’t You Just Die! (2018) was carefully laid out in its original Russian title, Papa, sdokhni (literally ‘Daddy, die’). For this was to to be a direct assault on the patriarchy, as…

Prayer

A Prayer Before Dawn (2017)

A Prayer Before Dawn first published by RealCrime Magazine A Prayer Before Dawn tells the real-life story of Billy Moore, a muay thai boxer who was arrested in Thailand on charges of handling stolen goods and firearms, and sentenced to three years in prison. A long-term addict, he had already served time in Britain, and had…

Of

The Night Of (2016)

The Night Of first published by RealCrime Magazine When scuzzy, ambulance-chasing lawyer John Stone (the excellent John Turturro) – think Breaking Bad‘s Saul Goodman, only with a better moral compass – goes home at night to his apartment, he relaxes in front of the television to watch CSI-like forensic detective shows. In The Night Of, written by…

Riki

Riki-oh: The Story of Ricky (1991)

Riki-oh: The Story of Ricky first published by Movie Gazette – here in a longer, expanded version There was a notorious scene in First Blood (1982) when Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo established his tough-guy credentials by stitching up his own arm wound. The hero of Riki-oh: The Story of Ricky, whose name is not so far from another…

Shot Caller (2017)

Shot Caller first published by Sight & Sound, January 2018 Review: It begins with a dissonance between sound and image. We hear in voiceover the nuanced letter, filled with tenderness and pain, that Jacob Harlon (Nikolaj Coster Waldau) has just written to the beloved teenaged son whom he has not seen in 10 years and may never…

99

Brawl In Cell Block 99 (2017)

Brawl In Cell Block 99 first published by Sight & Sound, January 2018 Review: “I’m not really interested in the economy,” says Bradley Thomas (Vince Vaughn) at the beginning of Brawl In Cell Block 99. Intercepted by his boss Dean in front of the car shop where he works, Bradley – who will come to be…

A Prophet (Un Prophète) (2009)

First published by EyeforFilm “You can’t read, right? It’s not too late. There’s a prison school. You can learn in here. My idea is to leave here a little smarter.” The man who dispenses this advice, Reyeb (Hichem Yacoubi), will, in minutes, be dead but nonetheless his killer, 19-year-old Malik el Djebena (Tahar Rahim), heeds…

Ariel

Ariel (1988)

Ariel first published by EyeforFilm, 16 Oct 2007 Aki Kaurismäki’s first feature, Crime And Punishment (1983), updated and transplanted Dostoyevsky’s novel to present day Finland. Since then, the deadpan auteur has written, directed and edited some 20 films, which is about a fifth of Finland’s cinematic output since the Eighties. His films, however, have always proven…