Prison Movies

Over Under - Large

What’s the one thing every rundown apartment that a college sophomore is sharing with his five best friends and every $30m mansion that a famous rapper lives in for five months out of the year have in common? The Scarface poster they have framed on the wall in the living room. There are a handful of gangster films that have become modern classics – The Godfather and Goodfellas being the other main two – but in recent years, Brian De Palma’s Scarface has really pulled ahead of the pack when it comes to pop culture relevance and awareness among a younger generation. Which kind of makes sense, seeing as The Godfather and Goodfellas are better-made films that deal with more mature themes and Scarface is the sort of empty, flashy nonsense that would appeal to young people and rappers. Really, at this point, should Scarface even be mentioned in the conversation of great modern gangster movies anymore? It’s got a lot of issues. Jacques Audiard’s 2009 prison epic, Un prophète, isn’t necessarily underrated in the sense that the people who saw it didn’t like it, but it’s underrated in the sense that not nearly enough people, at least in the United States, have seen it. Here we have one of those rare films that is just artsy enough to be respected by film snobs and just entertaining enough to be enjoyed by more casual audiences that it could conceivably become a perennial top contender when it comes to widely agreed […]

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Guy Pearce in Lock-Out

The teaser trailer for the upcoming Guy Pearce vehicle Lockout (formerly Lock-Out) gave us a glimpse at the rogue charm Pearce has mustered up in the lead role, but it didn’t let us in on much of what the movie is actually about. The new full-length trailer over at IGN gives us a bit more of that Pearce sass, but it also lays out pretty much the whole plot. Some of my favorite movies ever take multiple genres and blend them together. Sometimes blending genres creates a tonally weird mess (Cowboys & Aliens), but when you do it right you create something fresh and new out of used parts (Serenity), and it seems like Lockout has some potential to do the latter.

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I haven’t seen a nice, dumb prison movie in a while. It seems like it used to be a staple of the action genre. Some super tough guy is framed for something or other, gets thrown in prison, and by the end he has beaten up both the other prisoners and the evil warden. Really, it’s a great plot for a movie, so they need to come back. Summit has been trying to put one called The Tomb together for a while, but it’s been slow going. First Bruce Willis was set to star, but then that didn’t work out. Then it seemed like Arnold Schwarzenegger was going to take the project, but he decided to do Last Stand instead. Also, there has been some shuffling of the director. Antoine Fuqua was going to direct at one point, but then he left to do Southpaw. What is a dumb prison movie to do?

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