Tuesday, 28 February 2017


[Spoiler-Free] Il commissario Montalbano, the Italian detective drama launched in 1999 and starring Luca Zingaretti as the character created by author Andrea Camilleri, returned yesterday on RAI 1 for a new series of two 120-minute episodes.

Un covo di vipere was adapted by Francesco Bruni, Andrea Camilleri, Salvatore De Mola and Leonardo Marini, from the novel A Nest of Vipers (Un covo di vipere, 2013). Montalbano and Giuseppe Fazio (Peppino Mazzotta) investigate the murder of sixtysomething entrepreneur Cosimo Barletta, shot dead in his house by the sea. Salvo finds out that the victim was a very despicable man and that his death is more complicated than it looks.

An utterly brilliant episode directed by Montalbano regular helmer Alberto Sironi. Thankfully, Sonia Bergamasco returns as Livia. Mimì Augello, portrayed by Cesare Bocci, has a very peculiar assignment right up his street. The beloved Agatino Catarella (Angelo Russo) is back and he's very... Catarella. The scenes with Dr. Pasquano (Marcello Perracchio) are great. Alessandro Haber delivers a touching performance as Camastra. Un covo di vipere, introduced as usual by Andrea Camilleri himself, has everything that makes Il commissario Montalbano so special to its fans.

The rest of the cast includes Valentina Lodovini (Giovanna Pusateri), Alice Canzonieri (Stella Lasorella), Marcello Mazzarella (Cosimo Barletta), Beatrice Arnera (Alina Camera), Giacinto Ferro (Bonetti Alderighi), Giovanni Visentin (Tommaseo), Ottavio Amato (Santo Fallace), Silvio Laviano (Arturo Barletta), Vera Dragone (Stefania) and Valeria Panepinto (Michela Lolo). Inspector Montalbano is produced by Palomar and RAI Fiction.

Produced by Carlo Degli Esposti, founder and president of Palomar, and Nora Barbieri with Max Gusberti. Marco Camilli is the producer for Palomar and Erica Pellegrini produces for RAI. Music composed and conducted by Franco Piersanti. Songs by Olivia Sellerio. Franco Lecca is the cinematographer. Distributed by Rai Com. Il commissario Montalbano is aired in the UK by BBC Four as Inspector Montalbano and in France on France 3 as Commissaire Montalbano.

Next week: Come voleva la prassi.

http://www.carlopalomar.it/ (The blog of Carlo Degli Esposti)

[Update - March 8]

http://tattard2.blogspot.fr/2017/03/inspector-montalbano-come-voleva-la.html (Spoiler-Free review of Come voleva la prassi)

Last year's episodes:

Monday, 27 February 2017


Palm trees in the Snow (Palmeras en la nieve) is a 2015 Spanish film directed by Fernando González Molina and based on the homonymous novel by Luz Gabás.

This powerful romantic period drama, starring Mario Casas and Adriana Ugarte (The Time in Between), is available on French Region 2 DVD and Blu-Ray from Koba Films since February 1.

1954. Kilian de Rabaltué (Mario Casas) and Jacobo de Rabaltué (Alain Hernández), two brothers, leave their home in the snowy mountains of Huesca, in northern Spain. They must join their father Anton (Emilio Gutiérrez Caba) on the island of Fernando Póo, a Spanish colony (presently Bioko in Equatorial Guinea), in order to work with him on a cocoa plantation. Half a century later in Huesca, Kilian's niece Clarence (Adriana Ugarte) discovers a fragment of an old letter which shows that her aged and declining uncle has been secretly sending money to a family in the island. She decides to travel to the former Spanish Guinea to learn more. 

Published in 2012, Palm trees in the Snow (Palmeras en la nieve) is the first novel of Luz Gabás. The following year, Warner Bros. España announced a movie adaption of the bestseller by director Fernando González Molina and scriptwriter Sergio G. Sánchez, with Mario Casas in the starring role. Molina and Casas previously worked together on Three Steps Above Heaven (Tres metros sobre el cielo, 2010) and its sequel I Want You (Tengo ganas de ti, 2012) (1), the first Hot School (Fuga de cerebros, 2009), and on TV series El Barco (2011-2013) and Los hombres de Paco (2005-2010). 

Sergio G. Sánchez penned The Impossible (Lo imposible, 2012) and The Orphanage (El orfanato, 2007). Set against the mostly unknown backdrop of Spain's colonial history, Palmeras en la nieve alternates between the younger Killian's love story with young black nurse Bisila (Berta Vázquez) and the journey of his niece Clarence into the secrets of her family. Noted for her TV work with The Time in Between (El Tiempo entre Costuras, 2013-2014), Stolen Children (Niños robados, 2013) and The Lady (La Señora, 2008-2010), but also films like Lo contrario al amor (2011), Adriana Ugarte shines as Clarence de Rabaltué. Last year she starred in Pedro Almodóvar's Julieta

Palm trees in the Snow was shot during 13 weeks from 2014 to 2015 in the Canary IslandsColombia, and Huesca. 70 actors, more than 2.200 extras and 250 technicians worked on this €10.000.000 epic production from Nostromo Pictures with Dynamo Producciones, Atresmedia Cine, Telefónica Studios and Warner Bros. España. The rest of the cast includes Macarena Garcia (Julia), French actor Djedje Apali (Young and Beautiful) as Iniko, Daniel Grao (Sin Identidad) as Manuel, Fernando Cayo (Garuz), Celso Bugallo (Older Kilian), Petra Martinez (Older Julia), Luis Callejo (El Barco) as Gregorio, etc. The music was composed by Lucas Vidal.

Distributed by Film Factory Entertainment and released for Christmas 2015 in Spain, Palmeras en la nieve rightfully conquered the local box office (2). In France, the film arrived last year on Netflix. The DVD from Koba contains the 163-minute film in French and Spanish, subtitled or not, plus bonus material (a presentation and an interview with director Fernando González Molina). Three Steps Above Heaven and I Want You are also available on French Region 2 DVD and Blu-Ray from Koba Films.

(1) Based on Italian author Federico Moccia's novels Tre metri sopra il cielo (2004) and Ho voglia di te (2006).
(2) http://vertele.eldiario.es/verteletv/actualidad/Palmeras-segundo-estreno-espanol-millones_0_1751824833.html + http://variety.com/2016/film/global/atresmedia-warners-palm-trees-dislodges-star-wars-from-spanish-b-o-no-1-berth-1201679878/

Monday, 20 February 2017


The new Maigret TV adaptation, starring Rowan Atkinson as the pipe-smoking policeman created by Georges Simenon, premiered yesterday on French pubcaster France 3.
Unsurprisingly, Maigret Sets A Trap caught 3.393.000 viewers (13.3 %) and ranked #2 against TF1.

Our (unenthusiastic) words about Maigret Sets A Trap and Maigret's Dead Man:

Tuesday, 14 February 2017


DI Humphrey Goodman and the team find a man murdered on his boat five miles out at sea. The only clue leads to four suspects from London who quickly return to the British capital.  

Commissioner Patterson sends Humphrey, Florence and Dwayne to work on the case in London with DI Jack Mooney of the Metropolitan Police.
The bottom line: Here's the computer, said Florence.

It took five episodes of Death in Paradise (including last year's finale) to prepare the departure of Kris Marshall/DI Goodman and his replacement in this London two-parter. This is certainly an improvement over the inelegant ice pick exit of Ben Miller's DI Richard Poole, his predecessor. Too bad all this is at the expense of most of the current series, stucked until now into the annoying romance of Humphrey and Martha (Sally Bretton). The only purpose of this storyline (and consequently of the two-part episode) became obvious right from the second episode.

Then, ahead of the official confirmation that Kris Marshall was leaving, the trick was to spot the presence of Irish comedian/actor Ardal O'Hanlon (Father Ted) as DI Jack Mooney in the guest cast of the fifth episode. The laboured first half of the London story is saved by his introduction and the excellent Danny John-Jules (Dwayne). Except  for him and the the always enthusiastic J.P. (Tobi Bakare), the rest of the regular characters look like they seriously need a permanent new posting off screen. 

The second part of this double episode is better, particularly for a scene between Humphrey Goodman and Jack Mooney (« Be my guest. ») and an appropriate nod to Love Actually. Ardal O'Hanlon does a very good job for his arrival. Anyway, the feel-good detective drama has a worldwide audience so there's no doubt that the new Detective Inspector has been choosen very carefully.  Although the character reminds of his predecessors, Jack is a recent widower and has a daughter in her 20s named Siobhan (Grace Stone). Next time, we'll see how he manages in Saint Marie.

See also:


Monday, 13 February 2017


Based on the best-seller by María Dueñas, the lavish Spanish period drama The Time in Between (El Tiempo entre Costuras, 2013-2014) is available since last autumn on French Region 2 DVD from Koba Films under the title L'espionne de Tanger.

El Tiempo entre Costuras is set in Spain, Morocco and Portugal, from the 1930s to the 1940s. It stars Adriana Ugarte as Sira Quiroga, a young Spanish seamstress drawn into the world of espionage and political intrigue before World War II.

 « A typewriter shattered my destiny. » (María Dueñas, The Time in Between)

Published in June 2009, El Tiempo entre Costuras is the first novel of María Dueñas, a professor at the University of Murcia. The book sold millions of copies around the world in more than 25 languages (1). Spanish private channel Antena 3 bought the rights in 2010 with the ambition to turn the literary phenomenon into a television sensation. Three scriptwriters (Susana López Rubio, Alberto Grondona, Carlos Montero) and three directors (Iñaki Mercero, Iñaki Peñafiel, Norberto López Amado) worked on the 11 x 80-minute adaptation, produced by Boomerang TV (Los misterios de Laura).

The Time in Between was filmed from summer 2011 to January 2012 in 100 locations and over 254 sets between the three countries where the novel takes place: Spain (Madrid, Toledo, Guadalajara), Morocco (Tangiers and Tétouan) and Portugal (Lisbon, Cascais and Estoril). 135 actors and more than 2.500 extras worked on the series, whose budget was estimated in over 500.000 euros per episode. The productions of the BBC and HBO were the references of executive producers Emilio A. Pina and Reyes Baltanás.

 « My  name  is  Sira  Quiroga  and I’m  a  seamstress.  I  never  imagined  my  fate  would be to run across town in a foreign country  with  a  suit  of  guns  on  my  skin. »

Madrid, 1934. Sira Quiroga, a seamstress in her twenties, works with her single mother Dolores in a sewing workshop. Sira is engaged to Ignacio, a modest civil servant, but she falls madly in love with typewrite salesman Ramiro Arribas, much to her mother's disapproval. As Spain goes through troubled times, Gonzalo Alvarado, Sira's estranged father, wants to meet his daughter in order to give her money and jewels. Ramiro persuades Sira to use this fortune to open a business in the Tangier International Zone of the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco. They leave months before the Spanish coup of July 1936 and live a life of luxury until Sira, who got pregnant, is abandoned by her lover.

Penniless and indebted, the young woman loses her baby on her way to Tétouan. There, a comprehensive police commissioner gives her time to pay the debts which prevent her return to Spain and finds her a shelter at the guesthouse of Candelaria "La Matutera". The search for a passport leads Sira Quiroga into a perilous situation but the money she gets allows her to establish a haute couture dress shop with "La Matutera". Sira befriends with one of her clients, Rosalinda Fox, mistress of the Protectorate High Commissioner Juan Luis Beigbeder. Thanks to Rosalinda and Marcus Logan, a British reporter, Sira reunites with her mother.

The Spanish Civil War ends in 1939. Rosalinda Fox asks Sira Quiroga to put up a haute couture shop in Madrid and spy on the wives of German officials for British Intelligence in order to prevent the participation of Spain in a conflict between Germany and England. Sira accepts and arrives in the Spanish capital as the mysterious dressmaker Arish Agoriuk. She has to approach Ramon Serrano Suñer, General Franco's brother-in-law, and the ruthless Portuguese businessman Manuel Da Silva. But she also confronted with her past. Adriana Ugarte, noted for her TV work (Stolen Children, The Lady) and films like Lo contrario al amor (2011), wonderfully portrays seamstress/spy Sira Quiroga.

The rest of the outstanding cast includes Raúl Arévalo (Ignacio), Elvira Mínguez (Dolores), Pepa Rus (Paquita), Rubén Cortada (Ramiro Arribas), Carlos Santos (Félix Aranda), Francesc Garrido (Gran Reserva, Los Hombres de Paco) as Claudio Vázquez, English actress Hannah New (Rosalinda), Tristán Ulloa (Beigbeder), Peter Vives (Marcus Logan), established Portuguese actor Filipe Duarte (Manuel Da Silva), American actor Ben Temple (Allan Hillgarth), etc. Fans of El Ministerio del Tiempo will recognize Peter Fox, Rosalinda's husband: it's Los Angeles born actor Jimmy Shaw, who plays Paul Walcott in the Spanish cult sci-fi series. The superb music was composed by César Benito (La Chica de Ayer). Costume designer Bina Daigeler (Volver) was in charge of dressing the characters.

Aired on October 21, 2013, the premiere of The Time in Between was seen by 5.018.000 viewers (25.5%), making it the most watched premiere on Antena 3 in 12 years. The 11 episodes caught an average of 4.910.000 viewers (25.5%). A deserved success for a drama filled with romance, adventure, espionage, suspense, History and splendid locations. In France, El Tiempo entre Costuras arrived last year on Netflix. The 5-disc DVD set from Koba Films contains a 17 x 55-minute version with both the French dubbing and the original Spanish dialogue track, subtitled or not.

(1) Published in English under the titles The Time in Between and The Seamstress.


Saturday, 4 February 2017


Bland, totally unnecessary (and miscast) German remake of the Flemish series. Compared to this adaptation, the unsubtle French version of the format looks charming.

If you don't already know the original please try to have a look at it.
Review ASAP (Maybe...)

About the Flemish series and the French remake:

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Wednesday, 1 February 2017


Reviews ASAP.
The Spanish movie Palm trees in the  Snow (Palmeras en la nieve, 2015), starring Adriana Ugarte (The Time in Between), is now available in France on DVD and Blu-Ray thanks to Koba Films.


Also released on DVD from Koba this month, the first half of season 1 of German medical drama Black Forest Clinic (Die Schwarzwaldklinik, 1985-1989).


How we managed to put something on this blog last month is a miracle, given the difficulties already mentioned.

- Midsomer Murders (ITV, Series 19):

- Death in Paradise (BBC One, Series 6):

- The Halcyon (ITV):

- Ministério do Tempo (RTP1):