Thursday, 27 March 2014

Starred Up - The scoop and digest

We’ve all been sent to jail, or at the very least; visited such an establishment.

To those who doubt, I assume you've never played Monopoly...

Classic Australian soap Prisoner, more affectionately known as Prisoner: Cell Block H was my first stint down the block.

It was admirably reimagined as Wentworth Prison and I’m already looking forward to Season Two.

The only thing more famous on television tasted of Porridge.

America did time with the hard-hitting series Oz.

Ignoring remakes, Burt Reynolds and his eventual Mean Machine effortlessly combined comedy and drama, with a rousing American Football finale.

All brawn and very little brain scream Van Damme and Stallone vehicles Death Warrant and Lock Up.

Still, both are entertaining.

Cheating slightly, the highlight of Tango & Cash is when framed super cops Kurt Russell and again, Stallone are sent to experience life on the inside.

Escape Plan was better than what I thought it would be.

Warrior Tom Hardy starred as Britain’s most violent prisoner in stylised biopic Bronson.

The Shawshank Redemption and Escape from Alcatraz are instant classics for very different reasons.

A Prophet and Cell 211 are excellent contributions brought by France and Spain respectively.

You don’t have to be an inmate to know terminology such as ‘screw’, ‘the hole’ and ‘clink’, but ‘starred up’ may have passed you by.

It’s slang for when a young offender is transferred to an adult prison.

Plot details and/or spoilers will be subject to lockdown.

The horses not leaving the stable include:

Jack O’Connell – Eric
Ben Mendelsohn – Neville
Rupert Friend – Oliver
Peter Ferdinando – Spencer
Sam Spruell – Deputy Governor Hayes

After being escorted to his cell, Eric Love transforms essential teeth cleaning aid to makeshift weapon by attaching a razor blade.

He does this by burning bristles, rather than bridges.

Inevitably, ripples are made in a pond that was relatively quiet and amongst the carnage is father Neville.

Eric isn't the kind of pussy to drink sour milk.

Put it this way, an officer is grateful for therapist Oliver’s timely intervention as Eric decides against removing his testicle.

A volatile relationship ensues as progress and a connection is made.

We also learn that Neville is gay, Spencer is the prison crime boss and Eric makes push ups on your knuckles easier than it looks.

Oliver asks session regulars to look after Eric and when he’s attacked by balaclavas, they duly oblige...

Visits from dad fall flatter than a punctured pancake and when Nev reacts to a guy looking at him funny during a meeting, emotions run high.

When taking a shower, Eric is apparently strangled but playing dead fools the aggressor who is subsequently subdued.

Bubbling with rage, he gives a guy the most unwelcome shave.

While queuing up for prison slop, Eric chastises Nev for embarrassing him during a session.

As the kettle finally boils, fists do the talking in a cell.

Eric accuses Nev of letting him win and the reward of temporary hatred is solitary confinement for both.

Now or thereabouts, Oliver goes for Hayes when Eric is labelled a waste of oxygen and subsequently leaves quietly.

Falling for Nev’s claims of discomfort, Officer Self unlocks his cuffs but this gesture of goodwill isn’t reciprocated.

The climatic scenes run concurrently.

Nev visits Spencer and when Self is found wrapped like a baby, they beat the shit out of Eric and fashion a noose from a sheet.

Spencer is killed and when Nev clears the danger, he orders Hayes to cut Eric down.

Eric survives and the bent Hayes radios in the incident as an attempted suicide.

Before Nev is bundled in a truck for an imminent transfer, compassion is shown for Eric to say his goodbyes.

As pleasantries are exchanged, “I’m proud to be your father.”

David Mackenzie’s film is nothing short of excellent and paints a brutal picture of everyday prison survival.

O’Connell’s performance is so electrifying, it could power the National Grid.

Apart from boasting oodles of charisma, his mercurial temperament demands sympathy and orchestrates every situation.

Ben Mendelsohn and Rupert Friend score silver and bronze respectively and produce more venom than a cobra.

The atmosphere and tension between father and son has never been so palpable.

Drawing from his own experience as a therapist in HMP Wandworth, Jonathan Asser’s script is superbly blue.

Violence is never ridiculous and almost flawless in its unflinching approach to every confrontation.

This will never be a blockbuster, but is a blockbusting film.

Despite all the superlatives, does this do enough to finally dethrone Alan Clarke's Scum; the undisputed daddy of the genre?

Not quite and nothing ever will, but the prospect of Carlin squaring up against Eric Love would make for a mouth-watering match up.

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