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The best of crime/ noir drama from around the world




The Bureau: Undercover in plain sight Complete Season Two.

This DVD Box Set is released on Monday 17 April 2017.

Starring:. Mathieu Kassovitz, Sara Giraudeau, Pauline Étienne, Zineb Triki, Johnathon Zaccaï, Léa Drucker, Jean-Pierre Daroussin, Gilles Cohen, Florence Loiret Caille, Moe Bar-El, Johnathon Zaccaï, Alba Gaïa Bellugi and others Film director: Éric Rochant Produced by Canal + Composer for film music by Robin Coudert

This popular French political thriller continues in the familiar office surroundings​ of the DGSE, the hub of plots, intrigue and planning. The story jumps to the trouble-worn countries of Iran, Syria and Turkey, revealing genuine backdrops linking the heat of the Middle East to the heat in the Bureau. More insights are revealed in Malotru's cautious and watchful private inner world and yet as with human nature, there are always surprises.

Some new characters are interwoven into Season Two. Young Céline, played by Pauline Étienne, is the new Middle East and North African intelligence officer. After the inevitable discomfort felt as an office new-start, her abilities are gently revealed. Sabrina, played by Alice Belaïdi, is a nurse caught up in a tangled web of deception. Shapur (Moe Bar-El) bursts into the story and drives family, friends and colleagues into major tail spin. The misconceptions of youth and arrogance are abundant and are the meat for cliffhangers in this intriguing tale.

In Season Two, Prune Debailly, played by Alba Gaïa Bellugi, has a larger role in her father's life which l found endearing. How does an average 20 year old cope with papa being a spy?

Marina returns to her work in seismology only to find 'earthquaking' events following her everywhere. And Sisteron, played by Johnathon Zaccaï, returns with breathtaking acting in his duplicitous situations. Somehow Duflot (Jean-Pierre Daroussin), Malotru's boss has become larger on the Bureau stage as tension heightens, waiting for his every decision.

There is also the CIA bull in the china shop - as opposed to the usual hidden ones! He's easy to spot and yet so credible. Malotru (Mathieu Kassovitz) continues as the main character of this devious and delicious multi-layered tale of espionage and politicking. It is both thought provoking and thought forming. The series has attracted many awards and deserves its high public acclaim.

Thank goodness Season Three is in the offing! French with English subtitles.

Review by Nordann Lyshelt

Follow the Money  Season​ 2 - [Bedrag]

This DVD box set is released on Monday 10 April 2017.

Starring:  Natalie Madueño, Thomas Bo Larsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Ebsen Smed Jensen, Line Kruse, Thomas Hwan, Waage Sandø, Lucas Hansen, Sonja Richter and David Dencik and many others.

Series created by Jeppe Gjervig Gran
Written by a team led by Anders August. 
Film director: Per Fly
Theme music composed by Tobias Wilmer.

Interior design recently introduced the Brits to Danish 'hyggelig'.  Nordic Noir and Beyond now introduces us to the decidedly 'uhyggelig' - uncomfortable - world of Danish banking, bankruptcies and bugged boardrooms.

Viewers of Season One will recognise the return of familiar characters.  Natalie Madueño plays Claudia, the self-seeking, callous young disbarred lawyer, out on bail from prison for her endeavours in Season One.

Thomas Bo Larsen as Mads and Thomas Hwan as Alf return as the police fraud detective team who stumble into the bewildering swamp of riches and greed in the Danish financial sector.

In jarring contrast to the aforementioned swamp is the portrayal of street thugs Nicky, played by Ebsen Smed Jensen and Bimse by Lucas Hansen.  Nicky can be consumately summed up by the Danish word bølle (thug) in a tour de force of superb acting.  Glimpses into his family life attempt to thaw the viewers' antipathy for him as his succession of bad choices ramp up.  Partner in crime, Bimse, an element of sympathy can be felt.  Lucas Hansen plays a truly credible side kick in foul play and fellow worker garage mechanic.  Ebsen Smed Jensen, however, deserves his awards for best supporting actor in his portrayal of Nicky.

Detective Mads and wife Kristina (Line Kruse) return in Season Two bringing real life family decisions as background angst to Mads' police work.  Friction abounds as the storylines progress and the tension mounts.

Danish countryside scenes are almost unreal in their clammy drabness, yet they lend themselves to the filming of this tale of high and low level deception and skullduggery. 

Tobias Wilmer's music conjures up drowning-type nightmares and skillfully reflects the introductory visuals as well as the storylines themselves. 

Danish with English subtitles.

Review by Nordann Lyshelt.

The Team: the complete series

This DVD box set is released on Monday 17th April 2017.

Starring:  Lars Mikkelsen, Jasmin Gerat, Veerle Baetens, Nicholas Ofczarek, Carlos Leal, Ida Engvoll, Sunnyi Melles, Hilde Van Mieghem, Miriam Stein and André Hennike.

Directed by:  Kasper Gaardsøe and Katherine Windfeld

Series writing credits to Mai Brostrøm and Peter Thorsboe
Music composed by Jean-Paul Wall

The action in this gripping crime drama crisscrosses northern Europe between Denmark, Germany and Austria, bringing together these three countries' top police murder investigation teams.  The Joint Investigation Team set up by Europol comprises Harald Bjørn (Lars Mikkelsen) of Denmark, Jackie Mueller (Jasmin Gerat) of Germany and Alicia Verbeek (Beetle Baetens) of Belgium. The investigation kick-starts with three macabre murders and the race begins to find the killer.  Parallel to the police investigation, the personal lives of the police team members and their assistants are gradually revealed.  This builds a well-tempered tension which makes this series so intriguing to view.

Throughout the episodes there is always a solid feeling of where the action is.  Landscapes and cityscapes are authentic.  The beauty of the Austrian Alps is breathtaking and the vibrant business of sex workers in Copenhagen is a saddening reflection of real world dangers.  The music accompaniment to this series is wonderful.  Composer Jean-Paul Wall is a modest man, whose skill in music creation seamlessly gels emotions with the drama on screen.

There are a huge number of actors in this series, spanning several European countries.  All are intriguing, but a few for my particular commendation are Veerle Baetens, Hilde Van Meighem and Ida Engvoll who portray characters carrying dark secrets. Sunnyi Melles is arguably the only actress to carry off the character she plays.

This series is packed with tension and cliffhangers.  It is eminently rewatchable.

The series has English subtitles. German, French, Flemish, English, Danish and Swedish are all spoken.  If you are multilingual, this series is lovely to hear actors sliding from one language to another.

Review by Nordann Lyshelt

The Bureau (Le Bureau des Legendes)
Series One

This DVD box set is released on Monday 16 January 2017 by Arrow Films

Starring:   Mathieu Kassovitz, Sara Giraudeau, Zineb Triki, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Johnathon Zaccaï, Irina Muluile and many other notables.

The series is created and co-written by Eric Rochant and produced by Canal +.  It has been highly acclaimed in France, the US, Canada and the UK, having been released on Amazon Prime in June 2016.

This political/spy thriller begins by thrusting you into the tight bubble of duplicity, crises and espionage.  Yet much of the action is set in the Parisian city streets or behind the closed doors of the Bureau.  In the tight-knit corridors and offices of the DGSE (General Directorate for External Security) the workers are fraught with constant worry and mental turmoil.  

When undercover intelligence officer Guillaume Debailly whose clandestine name while in Syria was Paul Lefebvre and codenamed Malotru (played by Mathieu Kassovitz) returns to Paris after six years, his rite of passage is revealed step by step.  Pay attention - blink and you might miss a clue.  

Back from Syria, Debailly (or Malotru or Lefebvre) attempts to return to an almost normal life, but it becomes tricky when he is compromised by one of life's great!  Here Zineb Triki plays the love interest, Nadia El Mansour, and draws us exquisitely into this very watchable tale of suspicion and intrigue.

All the characters in this series are well chosen and individual.  Some personal favourites stand out for me. 

Belgian actor Johnathon Zaccaï plays Raymond Sisteron, the grim office worrier and workaholic who is nonetheless strangely amusing.  Zaccaï has many films under his belt and received the Magritte Award for Best Actor in 2008 for "Private Lessons". 

Granpa and Granma, comically known as Pépé and Mémé, bring noir humour to the boring yet serious espionage business of simply watching.  And lastly, but not least, Irina Muluile who plays The Mule must be mentioned, not least for her alternative method of negotiating Parisian thoroughfares!


French language with English subtitles.

Review by Nordann Lyshelt.


ARROW FILMS / NORDIC NOIR and BEYOND releases MODUS in DVD and Blu-ray in a Box set on Monday 19 December 2016.

Starring Magnus Roosman, Melinda Kinnaman, Henrik Norlen, Simon J Berger, Cecilia Nillson, Johan Widerberg and the young Esmeralda Struwe.

This series contains many well-known Swedish actors from Swedish cinema, TV series and theatre.  Melinda Kinnaman plays the ex-FBI profiler and criminal psychologist Inger Johanne Vik in the unglamorous role of harried divorcee and mother of two young daughters, one of whom is autistic Stina (Esmeralda Struwe).  Her long-suffering ex-husband Isak attempts to remove some life-stress from their fractured family and Simon J Berger plays the role sympathetically.

Henrik Norlen plays detective Ingvar Nyman from the National Bureau and appears early in the first episode as a counter point to Vik's ex.

The series lives up to its description of being Noir.  The atmosphere is steely cold with scenes showing the beauty of natural landscapes and snow clad buildings and yet the brooding frigidity is ... chilling!  The riddle of the lack of warm clothing worn by Swedes both indoors and outdoors remains unsolved however. 

The storyline is thought-pondering at times and the interpretation of meanings is polemic.  It depends on your personal moral framework and how you wish to adapt it. The main themes centre on human relationships and the notion of family, including the destructive elements such as treachery and secrecy. Amongst all these heavyweight story threads, murder is thrust violently into this network of characters. 

The acting is both delicate and at times brutal.  Melinda Kinnaman's micro facial expressions reveal narratives unspoken as she wrangles with decision-making.

Johan Widerberg as Lukas, husband to Elisabeth, the bishop, is a masterpiece of anguish.

This series will give you plenty to think about, but there is sadness at every turn. Perhaps after viewing the DVDs, it may be a good exercise to read the original crime novels by Anne Holt and discover how the co-screenwriters, Mai Brostrom and Peter Thorsboe adapted Holt's stories.

In Swedish with English subtitles.

Review by Nordann Lyshelt.

Braquo Season 4

Arrow Films presents this new DVD set. Release date Monday 12th December

Starring :  Jean-Hugue Anglade, Joseph Malerba, Karole Rocher with surprise guest of Boris Terral.

Also starring :  Thierry René, Slimane Diaz and Michel Subor.

Created by Olivier Marshal

Dropped into Season 4 of BRAQUO, the popular French crime noir TV thriller series, you hit the ground running.  The introduction consists of short flashbacks serving as reminders to viewers of previous events.  If you are a new viewer, you become aware that a densely packed storyline precedes Season 4 and that the police team are well-established characters.

From the start the atmosphere is edgy and menacing.  The story is relentless in its tension, as is the cold brutality in the way the filming is shot. The angles of the camera and fast scene changes, along with brilliant scratchy incidental, instrumental music keep you enthralled.  You feel the suffering of the individuals in the police team.  With one character who never has a cigarette far from her lips, it's obvious she is suffering big time.

Season 4 is full of well known and experienced French actors, some of whom have been in  American cinema also.  Michel Subor played Brigitte Bardot's cinema lover in 1955, but in BRAQUO he is powerfully sinister, almost a religious--type figure of the Marseille criminal world.  Thierry René and Slimane Dazi play their characters superbly.  Lastly the surprise appearance of Boris Terral, a name which should be better known outside France, is intriguing. 

Each episode is totally engaging, leaving you desperate to find out what will happen next.  The title BRAQUO is taken from the French slang 'braquage' for a hold- up.  This is exactly what you feel watching this series - out on the mean streets of France, with chilling criminals, even though they may be wearing sharp suits and driving fancy cars.

French with English subtitles.

Review by Nordann Lyshelt

The Code: Series 2

Starring Dan Spielman , Ashley Zukerman

This series is Oz Noir in bright sunshine.  The new season of The Code in a DVD box set sombrely races onto our screens with murders and funerals.  No holds barred and no time to grieve, you are immediately gripped by complex filial relationships and characters faced with challenging decisions.

The two Banks brothers, Jesse ( Ashley Zukerman) and Ned ( Dan Spielman ) have explosive history from Season One.  So, this Season opens with repercussions as the two brothers are now faced with extradition to the US.  A deal is struck with the Australian National Security whereby Jesse's hacking skills will help ongoing, high level criminal investigations.

Cyber crime is centre stage and hides nowhere.  As long as access is gained to the web, be it from idyllic islands, the outback or tropical beaches, connections can be made or traced.  Here the enigmatic character of Jan Roth ( Anthony LaPaglia ) appears and the story drives savagely through the dark underweb, swerving past criminal investigation and political speed bumps.  There are no 'parking tickets' in this series.  However, at what point does entertainment drift, if it mismatches audiences understanding the actual story?

Filming is thoughtful and reflects the tension of the storyline.  Clever screen 'information feeds' help viewers grasp computer dialogue exchanges. Throughout, the scenery is spectacular with lush natural Australian and West Papua landscapes.

The release date is Monday 7 November 2016 and comprises 6 episodes of 55 minutes each. 
Language is English.

Review by Nordann Lyshelt






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