Beck: Vol. 2 (2016) (TV Series) 

The Scandinavians really do know how to make thrilling drama. With the likes of Trapped, The Killing, Borgen and many others, they have thrilled UK audiences. Beck is another jewel in that crown. 

Peter Haber plays the brilliant Martin Beck, a Swedish detective who hunts down all sorts of criminals. He is called back into action when a journalist is found beaten to death in his home. Various fingerprints are found which may allude to the killer’s identity, but the further Beck and his team dig, the more they realise that things may not be as straightforward as they seem. 

However that is only the first case in this series. This wonderful procedural weaves through different grisly cases, whilst simultaneously delving into each of the characters lives. It does a great job in really investing in the characters and making you care for them. The acting really is first class.

The stories are thoroughly gripping too. The writing is intelligent and there are various twists and turns keeping you on the edge of your seat. The supporting cast are fabulous, and you never get the feeling like any one character feels redundant in their role. 

If the Scandinavians can continue to produce awesome television such as this, then I think we will always have something decent to watch. Even more than once. BECK – THE SERIES VOLUME TWO is released on DVD on Monday 10th October by Nordic Noir & Beyond.

5/5

JM

OThe Out-Laws (2016) (TV Series) 

The Goethals have always been a tight bunch. 5 sisters who have always relied and trusted each other. After the premature death of the their parents, their bond only grows stronger.

However their lives are thrown into disarray when one of the sisters marries a devious and manipulative man by the name of Jean Claude, the other 4 sisters realise they need to take drastic measures to restore order. 

The sisters begin a plot to murder Jean Claude, but things go awry from the get go and only proceed to get worse from there. Everyone is on top form, and the blend of comedy and thrills is really well handled. There were moments where I wasn’t sure if I should be laughing, but it couldn’t be helped. The Out-Laws has been doing very well in its home country of Belgium, and I am certain that success will carry on in the UK. 

The Nordic Noir label has been distributing some absolute belters, and ‘The Out-Laws’ aka ‘Clan’ is no different. It took an episode or so to get going, but by the end you will want more. The wonderfully named Dirk Roofthooft shines as the scheming Jean Claude, and I hope to see him in more things in the future. 

THE OUT-LAWS is released on DVD on Monday 19th September by Nordic Noir & Beyond
 5/5

JM

Follow The Money (TV Series) (2016)

  
Alexander Sødergren (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) is a ruthless business man who works for a Danish company called Energreen. He has plans to corner the energy market, and believes wind farms are the future. When a dead body is pulled from the sea in which a wind farm is situated, a detective called Mads Justesen (Thomas Bo Larsen) believes that the shady Energreen had something to do with it. 

  
One thing I’ve noticed about these Scandinavian crime dramas is that it nearly always starts with dead body being pulled from the water. Maybe they should take up swimming perhaps? 

Also playing into proceedings is a young mechanic and ex convict called Nicky (Esben Smed Jensen), who finds himself tangled up with Energreen when he tries to resort to blackmail. There’s also a young lawyer called Claudia (Natalie Madueño) who receives a promotion which helps her in her investigation into the dodgy goings on inside Energreen. 

  
The plot moves along very slowly, and is nowhere near as gripping as previous Scandinavian dramas like The Killing or Trapped. This is more the political side of things like Borgen, which is no surprise really as it was created by the same guy. The dialogue is very wooden in places, though one would guess that maybe something has been lost in translation. Nikolaj Lie Kaas is very good as the ruthless Alexander or ‘Sander’ as he’s also called. He is very convincing in his role and thankfully the poor script doesn’t seem to hamper his acting quality whatsoever. 

Thomas Bo Larsen is also good as the dogged detective Mads Justesen, who’s home life also weighs him down as his wife suffers with multiple sclerosis. I felt that the aspect of his wife suffering with such a debilitating disease was kind of shoehorned in, just to make us feel more sympathetic towards him. I felt it was unnecessary as his character was already adequately defined for us to relate to as an audience. 

  
The camerawork is great in my opinion however, as it moves around the office like a shark, perfectly capturing the claustrophobic atmosphere of an office where so much is going on. 

Scandinavian dramas have always been worth watching, and ‘Follow the Money’ is no different. However I would love to see a series which delves even more into the dark hearts of man, maybe something involving the occult. 

FOLLOW THE MONEY is released on DVD & Blu-Ray Monday 25th April by Nordic Noir & Beyond and is available for pre order now. 

3/5

JM

  

River (TV Series) 2015

  
John River is a brilliant police officer whose genius and fault-line is the fragility of his mind – a man haunted by the murder victims whose cases he must lay to rest. A man who must walk a professional tightrope between a pathology so extreme he risks permanent dismissal, and a healthy state of mind that would cure him of his gift.

  
Stellan Skarsgård plays the part of John River magnificently. He displays his fragile state of mind across his face as a permanent reminder to the viewer that this man is not well. Whilst hunting for the killer of his partner who was shot apparently at random, he must also navigate other difficult murder cases and the constant questioning of his own mental state all while being haunted by murder victims he couldn’t save, and even a smirking Victorian killer who seeks to drive him to madness. 

  
Eddie Marsan plays Thomas Cream, a sinister killer from the 19th century who even professed to be Jack the Ripper. Thomas haunts River, trying to poison his mind and stop him from getting the killers responsible for the many cases he’s investigating and also from becoming mentally well again. Watching River battle with his clear mental illness is heartbreaking as Skarsgård is so invested in the character that it’s clear to see he’s done his research and has taken the time to really craft the character and make him both believable and sympathetic. The supporting cast are also really good and you will recognise a lot of faces. There are some disturbing elements, but it’s so well written that you just can’t turn away. 

  

Fans of Scandinavian drama will find lots to like here, as even though it’s set in London, it’s very similar to programmes like The Killing and Borgen. The BBC have really delivered here with what is a fantastic piece of drama. Absolutely brilliant. You can pre order the series on Blu Ray and DVD now via the following link: 

http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/shop/index.php?route=product/search&filter_name=River

River is released on November 30th. 

5/5  
JM

 

The Voices (2014)

  
Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) lives alone with his dog called Bosco and his cat, Mr. Whiskers. He works in a factory that makes bathroom products and makes regular visits to a psychiatrist whom he tells his problems to, and Jerry has problems. Jerry hears voices, his cat and dog speak to him on a daily basis, but Jerry tries to get on with his life without that affecting him. 

  
When Jerry meets Fiona (Gemma Arterton) at the office party, he thinks he may finally have a chance at normality. However when Fiona stands Jerry up after they make a date, things take a turn for the sinister and slightly bizarre. 

  
My problem with The Voices is it tries to balance horror and comedy, but fails miserably. Its wild shift in tones make it hard to enjoy, and the film doesn’t really flow. Where films like Shaun of the Dead managed to seamlessly mix horror and comedy, The Voices jumps between the two rather than have them work harmoniously. Ryan Reynolds is good in the role of Jerry, and also in doing the voices of Bosco and Mr. Whiskers, but the film just can’t recover. 

  
The film tries to show mental illness in a realistic light on occasion, but the comedic tone undoes any hard hitting effect of the seriousness that we are presented with. We see what Jerry’s apartment looks like when he’s off the pills (clean), and what it looks like when he’s on them (blood soaked and excrement filled), but it’s so cackhanded that it hurts the movie. The Voices is available to purchase now from http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk. 

  
2/5

JM

Romanzo Criminale. Coming soon from Arrow. 

  
Following the success of their most recent Italian language TV drama titles, most notably the acclaimed Naples-set crime saga Gommorah, along with the likes of Inspector De Luca and Inspector Nardone, Arrow Films will continue to house quality international crime thriller shows from various European territories and beyond, under their sub-label ‘Nordic Noir and Beyond’.
 Ahead of the arrival of the upcoming Witnesses and the highly anticipated The Bridge Season 3, both due for release later in Q4, Arrow are excited to announce the arrival of Romazo Criminale, a hard edged and violent look at the criminal underworld of Rome set between the 1970s and the 1990s. Season One will be released on DVD 14th September and focuses on the darker side of Rome during the 70s.

 Synopsis

A criminal known as ‘Lebanese’ has a dream: to conquer the underworld of Rome. To carry out this unprecedented feat he puts together a ruthless and highly organised gang. Their progress and changes in leadership take place over twenty-five years, from the 1970s into the 90’s, and are inseparably intertwined with the dark history of modern Italy: terrorism, kidnappings and corruption at the highest levels of government. Throughout these years Police Lieutenant Scialoia sticks to the gang’s trail, trying both to bring them to justice and to win the heart of Gang Member Dandi’s girlfriend Patrizia.

JM

Do you hear The Voices too?

 
Due for release on 13th July from Arrow Films is the dark comedy The Voices, starring Ryan Reyonlds who begins to behave a little strangely when his cat and dog start talking to him. More info in the press release below:

DVD, BLU-RAY & STEELBOOK

UK RELEASE: MONDAY 13th JULY

“Utterly compelling” – ShortList
“A gory and unexpectedly pleasurable dark comedy” – GQ Magazine
“Like a Wes Anderson nightmare” – New Empress Magazine
  
Arrow Films is pleased to announce the DVD, Blu-Ray and Steelbook (the latter exclusive to Zavvi.com) release of horror-comedy The Voices starring Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton and Anna Kendrick on Monday 13th July.
  
The Voices is directed by Marjane Satrapi, the Iranian author and filmmaker best known for the Academy Award nominated animated film Persepolis (2007). Ryan Reynolds stars as a troubled, med-addicted factory worker driven to murder by his talking pets, a psychopathic cat called Mr. Whiskers and Bosco, his peace-loving dog. Reynolds also voices both of the animals, while Jacki Weaver, Gemma Arterton and Anna Kendrick play the women unfortunate enough to cross his path. The Voices is available as an exclusive SteelBook via Zavvi.com
 
I’m definitely picking this one up and I shall also be reviewing it very soon, so stay tuned. 

JM  

Crimes of Passion (2014)

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Scandinavian drama is doing very, very well in the UK. Now adding to the long list is Crimes of Passion, based on the best selling novels by Swedish author Maria Lang. Starring Ola Rapace as Christer and Tuva Novotny as Puck, it’s a lavishly designed period drama/murder mystery.

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The set which has been kindly provided by the folks at Arrow Films, contains six feature length mysteries, packed to the gills with sex, intrigue and whodunit’s. Everyone is on top of their game, and the stories leave you really scratching your head until the final third. It’s currently being screened on BBC4 here in the UK, and has audiences responding really well. Tuva Novotny is great as Puck. She plays the part really well. Puck is attentive, yet strangely manages to always be in the right place at the right time. Her inquisitive nature is usually the key to cracking whatever mystery befalls her and her friends.

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It is a wonderful programme, very reminiscent of Midsomer Murders or even Inspector Morse, well to me anyway. The set is released on October 6th and is available to pre order from http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk now.

4/5

JM

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The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

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Vincent Price has always been the go to guy for strange and kooky roles. He’s dependable and doesn’t mind hamming it up on occasion. He does so with real gusto as Dr. Phibes. Dr. Phibes is a tortured genius seeking revenge on 9 people he deems responsible for the death of his darling wife on the operating table. He devises a devilish scheme to exact the most painful and fiendish deaths on the his targets.

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Using the ten plagues inflicted on Egypt in biblical times as a template, Dr. Phibes, with the help of his glamorous assistant Vulnavia (Virginia North), goes about his ghastly business. I won’t spoil the death scenes, as they are very inventive, almost displaying a creativity not seen till the Saw movies came out many years later.  Hot on Dr. Phibes’ trail is Inspector Trout (Peter Jeffrey) who slowly begins to unravel the evil plan and Dr. Vesalius (Joseph Cotten), one of the men Dr. Phibes seeks to kill.

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The whole movie moves along at a fairly brisk pace and doesn’t hold back on the hideous leftovers of the victims once they are attacked. There are some very funny moments too, and cameo roles from many famous faces of yesteryear. Vincent Price is brilliant as Dr. Phibes, really letting loose and genuinely having fun in the role. Peter Jeffrey is great as the world weary Inspector Trout, always one step behind Phibes and also suffering the wrath of his inept superiors. Joseph Cotten is great as Dr. Vesalius, really getting into the role when things heat up.

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The transfer from Arrow Films is nothing short of astonishing. The picture is beautifully crisp, really letting you appreciate the wonderful set design. Although the sound is only Mono 1.0, it is still clear as a bell and I never once felt I had to put the volume up. I do recommend this film for all horror and Vincent Price fans, you won’t be disappointed. This copy of The Abominable Dr. Phibes was provided by the very kind folks at Arrow Films. You can get the box set containing this film and Dr. Phibes Rises Again now over at http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk.

4/5

JM

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Bunker of the Dead

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Calling all lovers of horror. Arrow Films have a very special event taking place on 25th April. See below for details from the press release.

We’re very pleased to be teaming up with SCI-FI-LONDON festival to present an evening of ghoulish delight, featuring the UK premiere of Canadian chiller BUNKER 6 alongside a screening of the underground-set zombie classic DAY OF THE DEAD! But that’s not the really scary part – in keeping with the bunker theme, the entire evening will unfold within the creepy confines of a genuine World War II bunker in Dalston, North East London. Have you got the guts to descend into the dark, dank recesses below the streets of the capital and face your gravest fears? And, assuming you make it that far, will you be able to hold onto those guts of yours when you encounter the flesh-hungry living dead which lurk deep in the bunker’s bowels???

DATE: FRIDAY 25th APRIL
TIME: 6:30PM
PLACE: ABBOT ST, LONDON E8 3DP (nearest tube Dalston Kingsland, Overground)

JM

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