Wednesday, 7 April 2021


[Favourite of the Month] A man who said he would never have a child discovers that he actually has one in this feelgood novel written by the multi-talented French thespian Philippe Caroit and published last november.

Hugo Talmont, a popular actor, is a self-proclaimed advocate of degrowth who doesn't want a child. Olivia, his girlfriend, just broke up with him because of her desire to have one. He tries to forget her on stage, with his best friend Mickey or in the Bois de Vincennes where he jogs. Hugo's relationship with his father, now in a care home, is a more profound reason to his refusal of paternity.

One evening, an enigmatic 18-year old teenager named Candice Montero asks Talmont for an autograph. When he meets her again some days later she tells him that she's his daughter. Her mother Lydia won't talk about it but Candice proves it's true. The problem is that Hugo can't remember Lydia Montero at all. Actor Philippe Caroit worked on stage for Robert Hossein, Jean-Claude Brialy or Jean-Luc Moreau. He played in movies helmed by Éric Rohmer or Alain Jessua. And television made him a familiar face since the 1980s.

Crime drama fans know him for Les Boeuf-carottes (1995-2001), four seasons of RIS Police scientifique (2006-2014) (1) and the semi-anthology Perfect Murders (Crimes parfaits), where he's one of the five detectives since 2017. Philippe Caroit also appeared in Joséphine, ange gardien, Magellan (Commissaire Magellan) or Murder in... (Meurtres à...). He speaks English, Italian, Spanish and even German, which allowed him to be one of the regulars of Borderland (Über die Grenze) for pubcaster Das Erste.

Philippe Caroit is also a playwright, a painter and a musician. La malédiction de l'escargot is his first novel and the author acknowledges a few similarities between the main character and himself. The great journey to happiness of Hugo and Candice is a genuine pleasure, especially in those difficult times. Hopefully Mr Caroit, a man of many talents, will write more novels and a producer will consider La malédiction de l'escargot for an adaptation.

(1) Between 2007 and 2010. 

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Friday, 26 March 2021


Launched in 2016 on German pubcaster Das Erste, the brilliant 90-minute crime drama Der Zürich-Krimi stars the great Christian Kohlund as the melancholic Thomas Borchert, an "unlicensed attorney" working in Zurich for lawyer Dominique Kuster.

Ina Paule Klink (Wilsberg) co-stars as Dominique (1). Money. Murder. Zurich. (the international title of Der Zürich-Krimi) is available in the United States and Canada on the SVOD service MHz Choice.

Aired by Das Erste in March 2019, Borchert und der Sündenfall is the sixth episode of Der Zürich-Krimi. It was penned by Wolf Jacoby and directed by Roland Suso Richter. Felix Kramer plays Police captain Marco Furrer  (Pierre Kiwitt replaced him from Episode 7). Star lawyer Dr. Reto Zanger, Dominique Kuster's father and an old friend of Thomas, is played by Robert Hunger-Bühler. Other regulars are Susi Banzhaf as Regula Gabrielli (Dominique's assistant), Andrea Zogg as Beat Bürki-Borchert's "personal" taxi driver, and Yves Wüthrich (Urs Aeggi, Furrer's deputy).
The owner of a Zurich nightclub is shot dead in self-defense by the police during a raid. Officer Emmi Arnold, the daughter of Captain Furrer's old mentor, tells Marco that the whole operation was a setup and there was no self-defense. When the young woman is found dead, Furrer is framed for her murder by some crooked colleagues. He asks Dominique for help and Thomas Borchert quickly joins her. The classic plot of Borchert und der Sündenfall is compensated by a cast of quality and the extraordinary presence of Christian Kohlund.

Also with Thomas Kügel (Tatort) as Major Beat Wenger, Christoph Letkowski (Ulf Markwart), Rainer Furch (Colonel Rudolf Ammann), Christoph Glaubacker (Peter Bührer), Lena Schmidtke (Dogs of Berlin) as Emmi Arnold, Germain Wagner (Lothar Arnold), Jan Krauter (Martin Dobler), Canadian born actor Dan Bradford as Jean Berger, Katja Sallay (Mrs Dobbler) and Katharina Leonore Goebel (Estelle). Produced by Graf Film for ARD Degeto and Das Erste. Co-produced with Mia Film
Produced by Klaus Graf, Annemarie Pilgram and Michal Pokorný. Darko Lovrinić, Ondřej Neruj and Katja Roesch are the production managers. Kirsten Frehse (ARD Degeto) is the line producer. Music composed by Michael Klaukien and Andreas Lonardoni. Song Senza di te  by Girgio Conte. Photography by Max Knauer. Filmed in Prague and Zurich. Production services in Switzerland provided by Christof Neracher for Hugofilm. Made with the support of the Czech Film Fund. Distributed by Beta Film.
(1) Katrin Bauerfeind played Dominique Kuster in the first episode.  

Thursday, 18 March 2021


Created by scriptwriter Robert Murphy (DCI Banks), McDonald & Dodds is a British mystery drama produced by Mammoth Screen (Endeavour) for ITV and launched last year with 2 x 90-minute episodes.
The smart and effective DCI Lauren McDonald and her deputy DS Dodds (no first name known), who dips his chips in butter and has a keen eye for details, are back for two new feature-length cases. ITV aired them in February and March (a third episode will be shown later).
« Then... a cold chip? That's a crime against nature. »
Mc Donald & Dodds is a most pleasant take on the mismatched detective duo where the crime-solving genius isn't in the foreground. It's also an affectionate homage to Columbo in a setting reminiscent of Inspector Morse's Oxford, the beautiful town of Bath (in the west of England). The ever brilliant Jason Watkins (The Crown, The  Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies) is Dodds, alongside an excellent regular cast: Tala Gouveia (Cold Feet) as McDonald, James Murray (Cucumber, Primeval) as Chief Superintendent John Houseman, Jack Riddiford (DC Darren Craig) and Lily Sacofsky (Sanditon) as DC Milena Paciorkowski.   
Mick Elkins, Barbara Graham, Jackie Somner and Gordon Elmwood are four wealthy friends who were famous in the 1980s. About to take a hot-air balloon trip, they're joined by a man named Frankie Marsh, who lives in the same posh building as them. A serious incident forces the group to do an emergency landing and when the police arrives on the crash scene they find Marsh dead in the forest. DCI McDonald doubts the man jumped, as Barbara pretends. Sergeant Dodds puts on his rough terrain shoes (he has a very delicate ankle) and notices deep scratches on three fingers of  Frankie's left hand.
« And, er, I'm a tad put out you'd even think that. Quite a large tad, in fact. I thought tads were small. Not always. »
The detectives must collaborate with the oddly "doddsian" Roy Gilbert, from the Air Incident Investigation Agency, to discover what happened in the sky. Dodds goes to the library to learn more about the survivors. Lauren visits Marsh's expensive apartment. Written by Robert Murphy, the perfectly crafted The Man Who Wasn't There was helmed by Alex Pillai (Chiling Adventures of Sabrina, Midsomer Murders). Its good plot and its great dialogues are completed with some cultural/social satire served by a  well-chosen guest cast, starting with actor and musician Martin Kemp (of Spandau Ballet fame) as Mick, the music mogul.

Actress and singer Patsy Kensit (remember Eighth Wonder?) plays ex-80s icon Barbara Graham. Former radical feminist Jackie Somner is played by Cathy Tyson. The talented Rupert Graves (Riviera, Sherlock) is very funny as the snobbish Gordon Elmwood. Comedian and actor Rob Brydon is fabulous as Roy. Also with Victor Oshin (Jason Greaves), Femi Nylander (Ollie Greaves), Vince Leigh (Frankie Marsh), etc. Dodds refers to a previous (unseen) case: the murder of an Albanian in the sewerage works. Houseman says he was a New Romantic during his youth.

« Every year, I look forward to the May weekend. Cos that means that the summer's here, and all the people, they come out... I don't like empty streets, ma'am. »
Exec produced by Preethi Mavahalli, Robert Murphy and Damien Timmer. Produced by Sarah Lewis. The soundtrack includes the music composed by Blair Mowat (Happy!) and songs from bands of the 1980s like Fantastic Day by Haircut One Hundred or Ghosts by Japan. Cinematography by Giulio Biccari. Editing by Meredith Leece. There's a new title sequence by Liquid TV. The Man Who Wasn't There mentions COVID with a certain intelligence. The final scene with Dodds and McDonald is quite moving. Made with the support of HM Treasury and DCMS' Film and TV production Restart Scheme. McDonald & Dodds is distributed by ITV Studios.

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