Friday, 17 August 2018


The 20th series of Midsomer Murders premiered in the United States on streaming services Britbox and Acorn TV more than three months ago, well ahead of its British home ITV and its French broadcaster France 3.

Starring Neil Dudgeon (DCI John Barnaby), Nick Hendrix (DS Jamie Winter), Annette Badland as the new pathologist Dr. Fleur Perkins and Fiona Dolman (Sarah Barnaby).

- Drawing Dead (Episode 3): A former supermodel emerges from a coma to be murdered while there's a comic book festival in Carver Valley. A disappointing episode in spite of a good cast, Dr. Fleur's one-liners and Winter's embarassment (the costume). And no one ever reads known comic book franchises in Midsomer County.

With Bill Bailey (Darwin Chipping), Ruby Bentall (Poldark) as Stella Starling, Nicholas Burns (Barrett Lounds), Ben Caplan (Murray Eccbeer), Nicholas Farrell (Isaac Starling), Jemma Redgrave (Dr. Juno Starling), Ellen Thomas (Ruth Crane), etc. Written by Jeff Povey. Directed by Toby Frow.

- The Lions of Causton (Episode 4): The owner of the Causton Lions, a rugby club, is frozen to death. John remembers his glory days in this sport. He plays squash with Winter, Fleur wears a chapka, there's a death by chocolate and an explosion. An excellent episode written by Nick Hicks-Beach (DCI Banks, Lewis) and directed by Matt Carter. The guest cast is dominated by the fabulous performances of Don Gilét (Bill Viner) and Michael Maloney (Neville Gallagher).

Also with Nicholas Goh (Mark Adler), Julian Lewis-Jones (Guy Bevan), Shereen Martin (Debbie Gallagher), Tamzin Outhwaite (Samantha Adler), Richard Rankin (Danny Wickham), Marcia Warren (Belinda Braun), etc.

- Till Death Do Us Part (Episode 5): Dragged by his wife to a wedding, Barnaby must soon act in an official capacity when Sarah finds a dead body. The second episode penned by scriptwriter Helen Jenkins for both Midsomer Murders and this 20th series (after The Ghost of Causton Abbey) is brilliantly acerbic and effective.

With Camilla Arfwedson (Serena Madison), Kelly Brook (Lauren Newman), Michael Fox (Gavin Webster), Liz Fraser (Marcia Jackson), Nick Hancock (Phil Webster), Colin McFarlane (Jordan Briggs), Fenella Woolgar (Hazel Webster), etc. Directed by Audrey Cooke.

- Send in the Clowns (Episode 6): Swinton Magna has a clown problem. DCI Barnaby too when a circus clown kills another as John happens to be afraid of clowns! An absolute gem written by Julia Gilbert. This  episode is a magnificent celebration of Circus, a love letter to this art superbly directed by Nick Laughland. Jay Miller was the circus adviser for this episode.

With Lorraine Ashbourne (Daniella Bellini), Jonathan Bonnici (Raoul Delgado), Lorraine Burroughs (Freya Ferabbee), Kevin Eldon (Terry "Groucho" Bellini), Andrew Gower (Harry Ferabbee), Mike Grady (Les "Oucho" Morrison), Joni Kamen (Sophia Bellini), Andrew Knott (Mostyn Cartwright), Terence Maynard (Ashley Denton), Neil Stuke (Curtis Ferabbee), Jason Watkins (Joe Ferabbee), etc. Charlotte Carabin and Jodi Miller are the circus doubles.

Based upon the books by Caroline Graham. Produced by Guy Hescott. Executive producers Jonathan Fisher and Michele Buck. Co-produced by Ian Strachan. Produced by Bentley Productions (an  All3Media company). Music composed by Jim Parker. International sales by All3Media international.

Episodes 1 & 2:

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Monday, 13 August 2018


Tom Cruise returns as IMF superspy Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible - Fallout, the new installment of the Mission: Impossible film series. His frequent collaborator Christopher McQuarrie, who helmed the previous movie (Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, 2015), is back too for this direct sequel.

The bottom line: Simply the Best.

Impossible Mission Force agent Ethan Hunt is haunted by the memory of anarchist Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), a former adversary. The surviving members of The Syndicate, Lane's terrorist organization, have formed a group called The Apostles. Three plutonium cores are part of their plans, which involve a shadowy figure named John Lark. Ethan goes to Berlin with Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benjamin "Benji" Dunn (Simon Pegg) to intercept the cores. The mission goes wrong, obliging them to obtain information from an expert who worked with The Apostles to assemble three portable nuclear bombs.

Against the will of IMF secretary Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), CIA director Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett) assigns August Walker (Henry Cavill) of the agency's Special Activities Division to keep an eye on the team. Ethan and agent Walker HALO jump to reach the Grand Palais in Paris, where John Lark must buy the plutonium at a fundraiser party given by arms dealer Alanna Mitsopolis, aka "The White Widow" (Vanessa Kirby). MI6 and ex-Syndicate operative Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) resurfaces but Hunt cannot trust her, nor the CIA, as he's confronted to Solomon Lane once again. And the life of his estranged wife Julia (Michelle Monaghan) is threatened. From the streets of the French capital to the mountains of Kashmir, via London, the IMF races against time to prevent a global catastrophe.

Launched in 1996, the Mission: Impossible spy action movie franchise is based on the 1966-1973 namesake television series created by Bruce Geller. Its success lies mainly in the will of actor/producer Tom Cruise to perform the most spectacular stunts by himself (he's still in top shape at 56). Despite some past controversies, Cruise sure knows how to meet the expectations of his public and even exceed them. The well established formula of the big screen Mission: Impossible consists in Ethan Hunt running (often literally) to find a thing in order to save the world. His mission, already presumed impossible, turns out not as planned and his status is jeopardized. Thankfully, Hunt can count on his various teammates. Especially the anxious Benji, who largely provides the humour, and the grumpy Luther.

Written by its director Christopher McQuarrie, Mission: Impossible - Fallout has enough twists and turns to keep Ethan Hunt busy between the mandatory mind-blowing sequences  in the sky, on a motorcycle, on roofs, etc. Though the script doesn't pretend to be a John le Carré novel, the personal stakes are higher for our proto-Jack Bauer. Punctuated with a discrete dose of derision, Fallout reminds of the golden era of the James Bond films before Daniel Craig and doesn't forget nods to both  the TV series and its predecessors. After Dubai and Vienna, it's the turn of Paris to be the focus of a Mission: Impossible, a choice with a particular resonance because of the terrorist attacks which struck the city in 2015. Of course, Paris was the playground of the legendary French film star Jean-Paul Belmondo, who did his own stunts too.

English actor Sean Harris is beyond impressive in the role of Hunt's worst nightmare. Rebecca Ferguson is great as Ilsa, the kickass leading lady. Female characterization wasn't the forte of Mission: Impossible before her arrival. Alec Baldwin's sympathetic secretary Hunley does a (little) bit of field work. Henry Cavill, who plays the untrustworthy CIA watch dog August Walker, is a perfect addition to the franchise. Like Vanessa Kirby and Angela Bassett. Scottish composer Lorne Balfe, who succeeds Joe Kraemer and Michael Giacchino, did an excellent job with the soundtrack. Aaron Becker designed the superb main title and curtain call sequences. Distributed by Paramount Pictures. Cinematography by Rob Hardy. Film editing by Eddie Hamilton.

Released on August 1 in France.

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