Reviewed byRJC-4Vote: 8/10/10
Buscemi's prison flick is oddly upbeat and shallow for the writer-directorof the much better "Trees Lounge." We have a young drug war convict thrownto the wolves, but where is he thrown? This is prison as a place where, ifhe slinks off whenever trouble starts, a con can avoid most of the worst andshoot up with his pals regularly -- sometimes, courtesy of a kindly prisonofficial! It's the joint as a center of homosexual rape, unless you happento be doe-eyed, red-lipped 21-year old Edward Furlong, in which case you'llreceive all the chaste fatherly ministrations of the skinhead hardass whohappens to run your block and desires not your ass but the preservation ofyour dignity (an intellectual too, he'll even take an interest in yourreading, steering you clear of an author who is a known "police statebitch"). These Speilbergian dimensions sit uneasily, to say the least, withthe movie's cultivation of a hard edge and undermine what might have been amore honest, less sentimental view of survival.
Verité aside, this wish-fulfillment stuff is watchable for Willem Defoe'sdetermined attempt to wrench more depth from his character than the scriptcan provide. We never find out why such a feared badass is suddenly socaring, and what we witness isn't enough to go on to supply our ownconvincing answer. Then there is the complete lack of chemistry between theprincipals; Edward Furlong's rather bland, disaffected character hardlyseems compelling enough to risk Defoe's rep or life over. We're hammeredthematically with the message that caring means vulnerability, but even teenlove stories can tell us that. What's more critical to this context, yetnever addressed, is: why bother?
Then there's the real crime. At this moment in U.S. history our prisons arerun by private companies who profit blithely from the violence boilingwithin; outside these pens, the drug war consumes billions of dollars in afruitless quest. Although it is his premise, Buscemi has nothing to sayabout this; nothing. In fact, he has less than nothing to say, since hisfilm's impossible sentimentality mocks the reality of the real-life Furlongsthrown daily to real-life wolves.
Yes, it's all beautifully art directed, the cellblocks washed out in harshinstitutional light. Mickey Rourke's minor role as a drag queen is weirdlymoving, and Tom Arnold's brief appearance as a sexual psychopath has somepunch. The soundtrack by John Lurie is edgy and interesting. Just don'tcome looking for any narrative sense, believable motivation, or much socialawareness.
Reviewed byAndy (Barclayandrew@yahoo.co.uk)Vote: 8/10/10
Although the DVD cover draws attention to another great prison movie(The ShawShank Redemtion), 'Animal Factory' is actually closer in styleand content the equally good 'Midnight Express'. Without revealing theplot, Edward Furlong finds himself in deep trouble and is sent toprison for what emerges to be longer than his crime should permit. Herehe meets and is befriended by Willem Defoe's character, the prison gangleader of sorts. Furlong, young, alone and vulnerable finds himselftaken under the wing of Defoe, which amongst other benefits's, offershim some security against buggery. All the acting is first class, andthe direction is snappy enough to keep the viewer entertained until thefilms climax. Keep a look out for Mickey Rourke's fantastic cameo, hadhe been given more screen time he would have stolen the show. A mustsee.
Reviewed byVogulVote: 8/10/10
Probably the first prison movie I have seen that in no way glorifiesprison life. This movie makes it very clear that prison is a dark placeand the only people that dwell their are losers not winners (forget therap music and OZ). There is no good and bad in this prison just thosewho will make it and those who won't.
The movie follows Edward Furlong; a young drug dealer who is small,skinny and is eyed by every inmate but one (Willem Defoe) as an easytarget for rape. I genuinely feared for him and I still shudder to thisday over the thought of entering an American prison. However the filmdoes get slow towards the end and it loses its atmosphere once yoursafe in the knowledge that Edward Furlongs character is well protectedby his new friends.
It has to be said though, Mickey Rourke stole the show as a drag queen.One of his best performances. A must see.
Ron, who's young, slight, and privileged, is sentenced to prison on marijuana charges. For whatever reason, he brings out paternal feelings in an 18-year prison veteran, Earl Copan, who takes Ron under his wing. The film explores the nature of that relationship, Ron's part in Earl's gang, and the way Ron deals with aggressive cons intent on assault and rape. There's casual racism, too, in the prisoners and the guards, a strike called by Black prisoners, and the nearly omnipresence of hard drugs. Ron's lawyer is working on getting Ron out quickly, Earl has a shot at parole, and death seems to be waiting in the next cell. Will prison turn Ron into an animal?