Sunday, 20 September 2015


Marlène reads a weird newspaper ad announcing a "murder party". It tells that a murder will soon be committed at the stud farm of Leticia Salvan. There, a strange robbery attempt ends with the death of a caped criminal.

Alice Avril is now a full-time reporter. Commissaire Laurence meets THE woman.

« J'ai peur des chevaux. On ne peut pas leur faire confiance. Dans Autant en emporte le vent la petite fille monte, tombe et meurt. Et pourtant c'était un tout petit cheval. C'est tellement triste... J'ai peur des vaches aussi mais on ne monte pas sur des vaches.
- Revenons à nos moutons. Vous n'avez rien contre les moutons, Marlène? » 
Murder Party
is the eleventh episode of Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie ("The little murders of Agatha Christie") with the Laurence/Avril/Marlène trio. Directed by Eric Woreth, it is adapted from Agatha Christie's novel A Murder Is Announced (Un Meurtre sera commis le... in French) by scriptwriter Sylvie Simon. Samuel Labarthe is Commissaire Swan Laurence. Alice Avril is played by Blandine Bellavoir and Élodie Frenck plays Marlène Leroix. This episode was mainly filmed at the beautiful haras de Blingel, in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. 

« Personnellement j'aime les femmes féminines, douces, chaleureuses. Certainement pas des dominatrices, donneuses de leçons, un tantinet aigries. Et qui s'affichent avec des petits minets pathétiques.»

Laurence is surprisingly impressed by the new female pathologist of the Lille police station. The sophisticated and sarcastic Docteur E. Maillol is played by Natacha Lindinger (Hard). We learn what the "E" stands for only at the end, much to the hilarity of Avril and Marlène. The secretary gets a little jealous because of the interest of her boss for the newcomer. She decides to become "competent" and prepares her certificat d'études.

« Ah oui mais pour ça il faut du flair. Et même si je vous enfonçais la tête dans une poubelle vous seriez incapable de sentir quoi que ce soit. »

Who's behind the newspaper ad and who killed the robber? A colleague of Alice has a problem with her typewriter. Someone has a very peculiar relationship with a horse. Swan needs a little help from Alice and Marlène can be a mean girl. Oh, Donald Duck dies too. Murder Party was originally called Un Meurtre sera commis le... (like the novel) and this definitive title is terrible but the episode has Sylvie Simon's standards of excellence and even an echo to Jeux de glaces, the first Laurence, Avril and Marlène (« Son cerveau a été privé d'oxygène. »)

« Pleurez. Vous pisserez moins. »

The music of Stéphane Moucha sounds like 60s John Barry and his work for Les Petits Meurtres d'Agatha Christie definitely deserves a CD. There's also a gay couple and a Rosa Klebb moment. Italian actress Valéria Cavalli (Leticia Salvan), Blandine Pelissier (Odette), Juliette Plumecocq-Mech (Greenblat), Christine Bonnard (Henriette), Annabelle Hettmann (Philippine Leroy), Honorine Magnier (Antoinette Combet) and Clovis Fouin (Marcel Combet) are the other guest actors.

« Je pense qu'une femme est une source d'emmerdements. Elle est parfaite en potiche ou en femme d'intérieur. » 

Dominique Thomas and François Godart return respectively as Commissaire divisionnaire Tricard and Alice's editor-in-chief Robert Jourdeuil. Although Avril's rival Raoul Gredin isn't in Murder Party the character, played twice by Thomas Baelde, is mentioned. Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie is produced by Sophie Révil for Escazal Films with Pictanovo (Witnesses), Conseil Régional Nord-Pas-de-Calais and the participation of France Télévisions, TV5 Monde and RTS Radio Télévision Suisse. The characters of Laurence, Avril and Marlène were created by Sylvie Simon and Thierry Debroux

Saturday, 12 September 2015


[Spoiler-Free] French superstar Gérard Depardieu returns to French television with Capitaine Marleau: Philippe Muir. This event TV movie for pubcaster France 3 is helmed by his friend Josée Dayan, who previously directed him in Raspoutine, Les Rois maudits, Les Misérables, etc. 

Corinne Masiero plays the unconventional Capitaine Marleau (no first-name) of the Gendarmerie.

« Franchement, moi aussi j'ai eu une adolescence de merde. J'habitais dans un HLM. Ma mère elle picolait et elle buvait de l'alcool à 90. Et moi-même j'arrachais les pattes des sauterelles. Et ben j'suis pas devenue serial killer pour autant, hein? » (Cap'taine Marleau, Homicide)

Manuela Morales, accountant in a haulage company, is found dead at her workplace by her boss Philippe Muir (Gérard Depardieu). With the help of his new lover Cécile Castelnau (Catherine Wilkening), Muir tries to locate his troubled son Samuel (Samuel Mercer) rapidly. He fears the young man may be responsible. Capitaine Marleau, homicide detective at Perpignan, arrives on the crime scene and her manners leave Philippe's sister Blanche Muir (Hélène Vincent) quite baffled.

« J'ai dû être un lapin dans une autre vie. A chaque fois que j'suis quelque part faut que je creuse mon trou. » (Marleau)

Cost-cutter Manuela was not popular amongst people working for Philippe. Marleau interrogates Pierre Lacoudre (Jean Benguigui), one of his employees, but Philippe Muir himself becomes her main suspect because all the women he loved until now died tragically. Corinne Masiero first played Capitaine Marleau in Entre vents et marées (2014), a miniseries written by Philippe Besson and Daniel Tonachella (Blood of the vine, Maigret), directed by Josée Dayan and aired by France 3. It starred Nicole Garcia and Muriel Robin and Marleau was actually a secondary character.

« Ben ça sent fort la solitude. Ca part pas au lavage comme ça alors du coup je me suis demandé si... » (Marleau)

Dayan and novelist/scriptwriter Elsa Marpeau (Blood on the Docks) brings back Capitaine Marleau for a possible TV series in Capitaine Marleau: Philippe Muir, with Gérard Depardieu as a special guest star (though first credited). Revealed by the film Louise Wimmer in 2012, Corinne Masiero is extraordinary as an offbeat cop between Vera, Columbo (1) and French comedian Coluche. The colourful and complex capitaine wears a cap with ear flaps which reminds of Frances McDormand in Fargo and she drives a Range Rover. Her abrupt ways hide a sharp mind and a profound knowledge of the human nature. She can also be poetically charming in the most unexpected circumstances.

« Tu sais quoi, moi aussi j'ai été jeune. Moche mais jeune alors je sais reconnaître du bon matos quand j'en vois. » (Marleau)

Série Noire author Elsa Marpeau knows her craft. The plot is certainly not original but it's well written and served by a good characterization, brilliant dialogues and an excellent cast. Gérard Depardieu looks confident under the competent direction of Josée Dayan. He's very good, even touching sometimes. Jerôme Kircher, who was in Entre vents et marées, makes an appearance. Belgian actor and French television legend Jean-Claude Drouot is irresistible as the Falstaffian pathologist Léopold Salaun.

« Je déteste les mômes de votre âge. Ils font des conneries tout le temps. Ils se marrent, ils se foutent de tout. Et nous les vieux on sait rien faire d'autre, rien faire d'autre que d'attendre et d'avoir peur pour eux. Et vous savez pourquoi? Parce qu'on est tellement cons qu'on arrive pas à vous aimer. » (Philippe Muir)

Filmed in Languedoc-Roussillon, Capitaine Marleau: Philippe Muir will air on France 3 on Tuesday, September 15th (2). It is produced by Josée Dayan's company Passionfilms in co-production with To Do Today Productions, RTBF (Télévision belge) and RTS - Radio Télévision Suisse, with the participation of France Télévisions. Josée Dayan and Gaspard de Chavagnac are the producers. Music by Catherine Lara and Cyrille Lehn.

(1) There's a funny line about the lieutenant. There's also a nod to Les Rois maudits.
(2) RTBF and RTS aired it ahead of French television.

Friday, 4 September 2015


[Spoiler-Free] 1905, in the Schnalsthal valley (1), South Tyrol (in the Austro-Hungarian Empire). Pietro Neri, a young man of modest origin, arrives from the province of Verona to visit his sister Caterina, who works as a maid at the Grand Hotel Imperial

There, he's told she was fired and disappeared. Pietro becomes a waiter in the luxury albergo to find out what happened. Grand Hotel, the Italian adaptation of the acclaimed Spanish mystery drama Grand Hotel (Gran Hotel, 2011-2013), premiered on tuesday and wednesday on pubcaster Rai 1.

Known internationally as "the Spanish Downton Abbey", Gran Hotel was actually born from the passion of its creators Ramón Campos and Gema R. Neira (Gran Reserva) for mystery stories and the work of Agatha Christie. The 39 X 70-minute series was centered on amateur sleuths and star-crossed lovers Julio Olmedo (Yon González) and Alicia Alarcón (Amaia Salamanca). Julio was a provincial young man posing as a waiter at the Grand Hotel of Cantaloa and Alicia the youngest daughter of the owner of the establishment, the merciless Doña Teresa Alarcón (Adriana Ozores). The idyllic luxury of the hotel concealed secrets, lies, intrigue and danger. There was even a gold knife serial killer in the area.

Julio and Alicia were helped by waiter Andrés Cernuda (Llorenç González) and lawyer Maite Ribelles (Megan Montaner) joined them later. Their allies in the police were shrewd detective and forensic expert Inspector Horacio Ayala (Pep Anton Muñoz) and the clueless Agent Hernando (Antonio Reyes), the Spanish Poirot and Hastings. Doña Teresa, the scheming hotel director Don Diego Murquia (Pedro Alonso), the austere head housekeeper Doña Ángela (Concha Velasco), and a powerful invisible enemy were the forces who tried to slow down their search for the truth. Produced by Bambu Producciones, the company of Ramón Campos and Teresa Fernández-Valdés, for Antena 3, the original Grand Hotel was sold to more than 60 territories, including France (groupe M6), the UK (Sky Arts) and the United States.

The Italian version is co-produced by Cattleya (Gomorrah) and Rai Fiction with German company Beta Film, the distributor of Gran Hotel. It is supported by BLS Südtirol-Alto Adige and Provincia autonoma di Bolzano. The 6 X 100-minute episodes, directed by Luca Ribuoli (Don Matteo), were primarily filmed at Castel Wolfsthurn, Racines, in the South Tyrol province of Bolzano in northern Italy. The gorgeous locations highlight the impressive adaptation work by Ribuoli, Isabella Aguilar, and the writing team lead by Peter Exacoustos. Grand Hotel stars Eugenio Franceschini as Pietro Neri and Valentina Bellè as Adele Alibrandi, the Italian Julio and Alicia. Adele is the youngest daughter of Donna Vittoria Alibrandi, the owner of the Grand Hotel Imperial, portrayed by Austrian actress Marion Mitterhammer.

German-speaking cast members of this co-production also include Günter Bubbnik (Rodolfo Von Raben) and Klaus Schindler as Raimondo, the maitre d'hotel and Italian counterpart of Benjamin, played in Gran Hotel by the legendary Manuel de Blas. Amongst the Italian cast, the performances of Eugenio Franceschini, Andrea Bosca (Marco Testa, the local Diego), Flavio Furno (Angelo Cereda) and Emanuela Grimalda (Rosa, the head housekeeper) are particularly commendable. Fans of the original will miss the Ayala/Hernando duo: Inspector Venezia (the excellent Ugo Dighero) is assisted by pathologist Doctor Gadda (Andrea Bruschi) - think Holmes and Watson, and the young Agent Arturo Parini (Pierpaolo Spollon).

Anyway the remake is for now faithful to its source material, except for a notably missing cigarette, some characterization changes, a couple of new storyline elements and a few minor details. Grand Hotel is gloriously lavish and overall very good. It will allow new audiences to discover the creation of Ramón Campos and Gema R. Neira. Dario Aita (Jacopo Alibrandi), Barbara Ronchi (Olimpia Alibrandi), Francesca Agostini (maid Anita) and Federica De Cola (Caterina Neri) are in the regular cast too. The enjoyable Downton Abbey-esque theme and the superb music are composed by Nicola Tescari. Giovanni Galasso is the director of photography.

Grand Hotel is exec produced by Matteo De Laurentiis and produced by Riccardo Tozzi, Giovanni Stabilini and Marco Chimenz, Ferdinand Dohna for Beta Film, Gianluca Casagrande, Emanuele Cotumaccio and Federica Rossi for RAI, and Claudia Aloisi. A Mexican adaptation of Gran Hotel, produced by Roberto Gómez Fernández, is in preparation for Televisa. It will take place during the Mexican Revolution. The original Grand Hotel is available on French Region 2 DVD from Koba Films.

(1) Val Senales in Italian. Today, Schnalstal.