Saturday, 15 June 2013


Salvo Montalbano is a gruff but likeable chief inspector of police in Vigàta, a Sicilian town in the district of Montelusa. This shrewd detective, who inspires perplexity to his superiors and loyalty to his men, has his own way to solve crimes while dealing with bureaucracy, politics, and occasionally mafia.

Montalbano never compromises his principles, he's often helped by friends outside the force and always likes to taste fine cuisine at the San Calogero restaurant or in his beach house. He has a complicated relationship with his permanent fiancee Livia Burlando, who lives in Genoa

Hugely popular in Italy but appreciated abroad too, Il commissario Montalbano is a detective drama launched in 1999 by pubcaster RAI and starring Luca Zingaretti in the title role. It is based on the crime novels published since 1994 by writer, director and screenwriter Andrea Camilleri. BBC Four airs it in the UK as Inspector Montalbano. In France, where it is aired by France 3 as Commissaire Montalbano, Series 1 to 3 (6 episodes) are now available in a 3-disc Volume 1 DVD set released by Koba Films.

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In 1998, Carlo Degli Esposti, founder and president of Palomar, and RAI Fiction decided to adapt Camilleri's Montalbano mysteries for TV. The literary phenomenon became a cult drama with 26 feature-length episodes to date, all directed by Alberto Sironi (Il grande Fausto, Eurocops) and filmed on different locations in the province of Ragusa, Sicily - doubling as the both fictious Vigàta and district of Montelusa. Il commissario Montalbano is co-produced by Swedish television and even has a prequel, The Young Montalbano (Il giovane Montalbano, 2012). Andrea Camilleri worked on the scripts mainly with Francesco Bruni (Il commissario De Luca). 

Each of the discs of this first volume includes two cases of the Sicilian detective and his memorable team. Meet the touchy and womanizing Domenico "Mimi" Augello (Cesare Bocci), Montalbano's deputy even if the young and smart Fazio (Peppino Mazzota) assumes this position in the field. Meet also agents Galluzzo (Davide Lo Verde) and, most of all, Catarella (Angelo Russo). Clumsy and speaking a language barely comprehensible by his colleagues or by visitors of the police station, he becomes the precinct's computer expert!

Salvo gets professional assistance from forensic specialist Jacomuzzi (Giovanni Guardiano) and coroner Pasquano (Marcello Perracchio). He regularly asks a little informal help from friends such as local TV journalist Nicolò Zito (Roberto Nobile), pimp Gegè (Fulvio D'Angelo), or Swede former race car driver Ingrid Sjostrom (Isabell Sollman). In spite of his interest for her or Anna Tropeano (Biancamaria D'Amato), Montalbano remains faithful to his long-suffering girlfriend Livia (Katharina Böhm).

- The Snack Thief (Il Ladro di Merendine): Montalbano investigates on a businessman found stabbed dead in an elevator the same day a Tunisian was killed in an incident between Sicilian fishermen and a Tunisian patrol boat. A young boy linked to the events prompts Livia to reassess her relationship with Salvo.

- The Voice of the Violin (La Voce del violino): Montalbano discovers the naked dead body of a young woman in her villa outside Vigàta. The case is taken from him and given to a rival inspector from nearby Montelusa. Sergio Fantoni (The Manageress, La Piovra 2) guest stars as il maestro Barbera.

- The Shape of Water (La forma dell'acqua): Two garbage men come upon a leading political figure dead in a car at a notorious prostitution spot. Salvo receives bad news about his father.

- The Mystery of the Terracotta Dog (Il Cane di Terracotta): An old crime chief  wants to retire and stages his arrest with Montalbano.When the mafia feels "offended", he confesses to Salvo about the existence of an arms stash in a cave. Inside this cave there are weapons, uniforms and a secret chamber where the bodies of two lovers, killed in the 1940s, were buried in a strange ritual.

- Excursion to Tindari (La gita a Tindari): A young man is murdered in front of his apartment building and an elderly couple is reported missing. Former mafia boss Sinagra wants to meet Montalbano. Mimi wants to marry a woman inspector from Pavia and Catarella is on a secret assignment.

- The Artist's Touch (Tocco d'artista): Goldsmith Alberto Larussa appears to have committed suicide by turning his wheelchair into an electric chair but Montalbano won't close the case so easily.

No wonder why Luca Zingaretti's Salvo Montalbano is considered as one of the great Italian TV detectives like Gino Cervi as Maigret or Tino Buazzelli as Nero Wolfe. He's absolutely perfect and the adaptation of Andrea Camilleri's work has all for the viewer's enjoyment: mystery, suspense, humour, emotion, etc. Locations are beautiful and the music by Franco Piersanti is magnificent. The episodes in the DVD set are in French only. (In French)

Saturday, 1 June 2013


Detective Sergeant Harry Anglesea returns to Auckland from his native Samoa after a short break due to a personal tragedy.

Back to work under the scrutiny of the police psychiatrist, he's assigned a robbery homicide case involving drugs and a vicious biker gang.
Harry tries to maintain the precarious balance between his job and his personal life as the tension between him and his teenage daughter is growing.  

Harry is a cop drama from New Zealand, where it started last month on commercial channel TV3. Samoan-born Oscar Kightley, best known by New Zealanders for his comedy work with the Naked Samoans group, stars in the title role. Internationally acclaimed New Zealand actor Sam Neill returns to his country television screens as Detective Senior Sergeant Jim "Stocks" Stockton, Harry's mentor and friend. Created by producer Steven O'Meagher (This Is Not My Life), who founded Auckland-based prodco Desert Road in 2005, the six-part series is written by Christopher Dudman - who directs too, with former South Auckland cop Neil Grimstone and Oscar Kightley.

Grimstone, who's also technical consultant, provides realism to the scripts and Harry is filmed like a documentary in different Auckland locations. Budget is certainly a factor for the sobriety of its style but production manages to transform this modesty into effectiveness. In a drama environment overcrowded with "gritty crime" shows, Harry comes like a breath of fresh air because it focuses on the story of a man and a father trying to recover from a tragedy while doing one of the most complicated jobs. Steven O'Meagher says his main inspirations are Cracker and Prime Suspect. Oscar Kightley succeeds in giving his character a profound humanity.

The role of Mele Anglesea, Harry Anglesea's 13 year old daughter, is young Hunter Kamuhemu's first acting job. Harry also stars Erroll Shand (Underbelly: Land of the Long green cloud), Stephen Lovatt (Top of the Lake, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena) and Theresa Healey (The Blue Rose). Michael Koloi plays DC Mosese "Moss" Tuitonga (Harry's assistant) and Matthias Luafutu is impressive as the ruthless Afa Sorrenson. D.J. Stipsen is the director of photography and the music is composed by Karl Steven (The Blue Rose). His atmospheric theme intro is highlighted by a brilliant title sequence from Blockhead.

Produced by Desert Road, Harry is a presentation of TV3 in association with NZ On Air's Platinum Fund. This crime drama from New Zealand deserves our attention and is a valuable counterpart to the most recent British entries in the genre.