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The best of crime/ noir drama from around the world

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

Beck The Series: Volume 2

Starring Peter Haber, Kristofer Hivjul, Jonas Karlsson and Elmira Arikan

Nordic Noir & Beyond releases the new Beck DVD Box set with 4 intriguing episodes of 90 minutes length on Monday 10 October 2016.  Swedish detective Martin Beck (played by renowned actor Peter Haber) and his team return to solve some challenging cases.

The series starts with how the demands of personal life made on one detective can change everyone's life.  The storylines are riveting, combining fast moving detective work and chilling emotions.  Characters are cleverly sculpted, so that you feel a wealth of surprising emotions.  We meet a quirky new character in Norwegian homicide detective Steinar Hovland, played by Kristofer Hivjul.

Dialogue can be lively, but the prize goes to Ayda, Beck's office assistant for her razor sharp mind and chiseled responses.

No wonder this series has a solid cult following.  The Swedish co-authors of the original detective novels, Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo created a rich  minefield of settings, plots and characters for the small screen to develop.  This short series is finely tuned with emphasis on loss, drama and emotional tension.   However a careful sprinkling of humour throughout, truly makes this DVD set great entertainment.

Swedish with English subtitles.

Review by Nordann Lyshelt


Starring Barbara Sarafian, Kristine Van Pellicom, Ruth Becquart, Maaike Neuville, Inge Paulussen

THE OUT-LAWS is released on DVD on Monday 19th September by Nordic Noir & Beyond

This Belgian DVD box set from 'Nordic Noir and Beyond' is unmistakably Noir - the story opens with a funeral.  The characters are Neurotic - who likes an aberrant brother-in-law?  And interestingly, the situations in which the characters find themselves can be Naughty!

The dark mysteries of blood ties, marital relationships and young love unfold with revelatory flashbacks.  The first revelations take place in church as the five Goethal sisters sit dutifully listening to the kindly intonations of the priest.

Throughout the episodes, you flit from Vandaag (ie today) to past events which helps cement an understanding of characters and background story.  This works well, as the story rollercoasts past corpses, condolences and complications.  Some of these complications come in the form of two somewhat bumbling insurance agent brothers who smell a rat!

The sisters are all intriguingly different, yet resemble each other in their sense of mischief with slips of the tongue, spilling of beans and skeletons in cupboards.

Humour is deftly worked into the episodes and successfully combines Noir, Neurotic and Naughty.
You will be entranced.

The Out-Laws has English subtitles.  The release date is Monday 19 September 2016.

Nordann Lyshelt


Starring Leszek Lichota, Bartlomiej Topa

Nordic Noir & Beyond releases the DVD set of The Border on Monday 5th September 2016.

This Polish drama is the first of its kind to be aired on UK TV on Channel 4 and All 4. From the outset, all is not what it appears. The stunning and vibrant countryside of the Bieszczady Mountains on the Polish/Ukraine border have a magnetic beauty. However in the deep ravines and dense forests lurks human trafficking masterminded by ruthless criminals. The team of Polish Border Guards central to the storyline are challenged by human tragedy throughout the six episodes and the tension is palpable. However Rebrow, the life-toughened main character faces personal tragedy. Through his loss, the viewer feels empathy as the story unravels a sordid mix of all-too-believable situations. The series title in Polish is Wataha - the wolf pack - but the English title of The Border conveys a richer meaning than simply the geographical. The notion is linked to crime noir and the border between Good and Evil. As the last episode finishes, anticipation for the 2nd HBO Poland series is very high! The series has English subtitles, but action and characters speak for themselves.

Polish with English subtitles.

Review by Nordann Lyshelt


Starring Salvatore Esposito, Fortunato Cerlino

This Italian series evokes with unremitting realism the violent day-to-day and oppressive lives of criminal clans in southern Italy.  The dons and their 'soldiers' work in an atmosphere of ever shifting tense loyalties to not only dominate drug patches but also strive to initiate peace - somewhat ironically surely?  Unsurprisingly all the episodes reveal bloody revenge and factional violence.

The feeling of menace never leaves the viewer and though the story strands draw us in, the filming is carefully character driven.

The film is dense with Italian culture, custom and religiosity forcing the viewer to chew over many aspects of the story.  The grottiness of housing estates and the chaotic lives of their inhabitants is chilling stuff.  Certain scenes are guaranteed to be remembered!. A chilling insignt into a world where everyone wants to be Caesar and control their own empire.

Arrow Films release GOMORRAH season two (12 episodes) on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday 25 July 2016. 

Italian with English subtitles.

Review by Nordann Lyshelt



Starring   Francois-Xavier Demaison, Pierre-François Martin-Laval

This French TV series has achieved tremendous success in France, attracting more than 5 million viewers.  BBC Four viewers are also in for a treat.

The title in itself is the hook.  It suggests mystery, crime and suspense.  Straightaway the viewer is cleverly guided as to who is about to disappear.  Tension builds with subtlety as we are thrust into the busy ordinary lives of a French family in the city of Lyon.  As we become acquainted with the characters and their relationships, the dread of coming events mounts.  Scenes can be charming and playful yet the suspense is skilfully ever present.

Although the film is subtitled, the strength and tension of the storyline is so cleverly handled that it does not detract from the excitement of watching.  Each episode closes with such impact, it is a pure and admirable cliff hanger.

The story is set in the beautiful sprawling city of Lyon with a large parkland where the mid-summer music festival central to the story takes place.

This TV series offers within the story itself many provocative questions for people of all ages.  I rate this drama as the French would say - Dix Sur Dix (10/10)

French with English sub-titles

RELEASE DATE 4th July 2016

Review by Nordann Lyshelt






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