Tuesday, 15 June 2021

ALLMEN: ALLMEN AND THE MYSTERY OF THE DAHLIAS (ALLMEN UND DAS GEHEIMNIS DER DAHLIEN - DAS ERSTE, 2019)

Allmen, the dandy turned art detective, must find a stolen painting.

Johann Friedrich von Allmen lives in Zurich. He's a bon vivant, a man of culture and taste who likes elegance and refinement. Allmen has no equal when it comes to spending his money, to the point that he squandered the family fortune. Carlos, his faithful Guatemalan manservant, does his best to moderate the flamboyant "Don John". Thankfully, an expertise in tracing missing artworks allows Allmen to maintain his costly lifestyle.

Created by bestselling Swiss author Martin Suter, Allmen first appeared in Allmen and the Dragonflies (Allmen und die Libellen, 2011), a novel followed by five more. Four Allmen TV movies based on the books were aired by German pubcaster Das Erste since 2017: Allmen und das Geheimnis der Libellen, Allmen und das Geheimnis des rosa Diamanten, Allmen und das Geheimnis der Dahlien and Allmen und das Geheimnis der Erotik. A fifth one, Allmen und der Koi, is in preparation. Those films star Heino Ferch (Anatomy of Evil) as Allmen and Samuel Finzi (Flemming) as Carlos.
 
Andrea Osvárt (Tranporter: The Series) plays Joelle "Jojo" Hirt, the daughter of one of the richest men in Switzerland and Allmen's love interest. From the second film, Isabella Parkinson joined the cast as Carlos's Colombian girlfriend Maria Moreno. Adapted by scriptwriter Martin Rauhaus (Hotel Heidelberg) from the book Allmen und die Dahlien, Allmen und das Geheimnis der Dahlien is directed by Thomas Berger (Kommissarin Lucas).
  
During a romantic getaway with Jojo at the Grandhotel Gutbauer, Allmen cannot help to notice a facade climber. This leads him in the private suite of the eccentric Dahlia Gutbauer, the owner of the luxury establishment. Someone has stolen from her a precious Fantin-Latour entitled Dahlias (of course) and the old lady wants it back. The founder of Allmen International Inquiries must find the painting or his valet will have to return to his country.
  
Maria, who's an illegal immigrant like Carlos, witnessed a murder and she's wanted by the police. Allmen meets Tino Rebler, a businessman and a second Dahlia: the beautiful psychologist Dahlia Scheidegger. Most of the charm of these adaptations of Allmen comes from the performances of the both talented Heino Ferch (with an incredible look) and Samuel Finzi as the duo, often compared to P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster

Allmen und das Geheimnis der Dahlien is another fast-paced and humorous adventure of the gentleman detective/philosopher, though the resolution is unsatisfying. The sets and locations of this episode, filmed in Zurich, Prague and Germany, are superb. The pleasant suprise of the excellent guest cast is definitely the presence of Mehdi Nebbou as Rebbler. The French actor, who played in films helmed by Steven Spielberg or Ridley Scott and in the U.S. drama Homeland, regularly works for German TV.
 
Mehdi Nebbou was recently seen on French private channel TF1 alongside Audrey Fleurot in HPI. This fun and well crafted comedy/crime drama established itself as a ratings phenomenon, beating historic records and ranking amongst the most watched television fictions in Europe. With Katharina Schüttler (Dahlia Scheidegger), Florian Stetter (Claude Tenz), Erni Mangold (Dahlia Gutbauer), Udo Samel (Severin Erlbaum), Christina Hecke (Cheryl Tatfeld), Oscar Ortega Sánchez (Don Gregorrio), Roman Smejkal (Arnold), etc.

Produced by UFA Fiction  for ARD Degeto and Das Erste. Benjamin Benedict and Sinah Swyter are the producers. Karsten Kilian is the production manager. Holger Krenz and Kirsten Frehse (ARD Degeto) are the line producers. Music by Fabian Rohmer and Mathias Hildebrand-Gonzalez. Benedikt Herforth is the production designer. Cinematography by Frank Küpper. Editing by Lucas Seeberger. Production services in Prague by Michal Pokorný and Zbyněk Pippal for Mia Film (Der Zürich-Krimi).
 
Allmen und das Geheimnis der Dahlien is now available in the U.S. as Allmen and the Mystery of the Dahlias, thanks to MHz Choice. The SVOD service also has the first two TV films under the titles Allmen: The Secret of The Dragonflies and Allmen: The Pink Diamond. Allmen is distributed by Beta Film.

https://herforth.info/index.html (Benedict Herforth)  
 
See also:
 

Thursday, 20 May 2021

HPI - SEASON 1, EPISODES 7 & 8: COCKTAIL MOLOTOV & HOMME DE PEU DE FOI (TF1)

The fabulous Audrey Fleurot (Spiral, A French Village) continues to shine in HPI, a fun and well-crafted 8 x 52-minute French comedy/crime drama created by Alice Chegaray-Breugnot and Nicolas Jean  — two of the creators of La Mante — with Stéphane Carrié (1) for private channel TF1
 
Audrey Fleurot plays Morgane Alvaro, 38, a single mother of three (from two different fathers) with a disdain for authority and a 160 I.Q. that makes her HPI (Haut Potentiel Intellectuel, hence the title). Morgane was a cleaning lady at the commissariat de Lille until Commissaire Céline Hazan noticed her abilities and offered her a consultant job. The no-nonsense Commandant Adam Karadec is less than pleased to work with this uncontrollable civilian who hates cops!
 
The actors alongside Audrey Fleurot are excellent: Mehdi Nebbou, who worked for Steven Spielberg or Ridley Scott and appeared on German TV in Tatort and GSG 9 – Ihr Einsatz ist ihr Leben or in the U.S. drama Homeland, plays Karadec. Céline Hazan is played by Marie Denarnaud (La malédiction du volcan). The other regulars are Bruno Sanches (Gilles Vandraud), Bérangère McNeese (Daphné Forestier), Cypriane Gardin (Théa), Noé Vandevoorde (Eliott) and Cédric Chevalme (Ludovic Mullier) (2)
 
Vincent Jamain (Balthazar, Profilage) helmed the first four episodes, filmed from November 2019 to the end of January 2020 (3). All filmings (movies + series) were interrupted in France between March and May 2020 because of COVID-19. Laurent Tuel directed the remaining episodes between August and October 2020. The brilliant second half of HPI feels like an advanced season 2, visually and thanks to a few tweaks (notably Morgane's "HPIsm"). 
 
In Cocktail molotov, Ludo takes the kids on holiday and Morgane Alvaro goes to the beach... for a new case:  a kitesurfing instructor has been murdered. A witness quickly becomes the chief suspect. Morgane is convinced of his innocence and Karadec has the intuition that she's right. The duo continues their investigation against the advice of Commissaire Hazan. They dress for the occasion and put themselves in jeopardy with some consequences.

This fireworks was penned by Soiliho Bodin and Nicolas Clément (who both worked on Balthazar and Chérif) with Alice Chegaray-Breugnot and Stéphane Carrié. Guest starring Akache Busiah (Ranir), Delphine Braillon (Sabine Muller), Cédric Weber (Chef Dewulf), Anne-Sophie Wilkin (Hélène Dewulf), Lucas Phiv (Jonathan Gourvil), Tess Boutmann (Lucie Vandorme), Céline Romanowski (Beach instructor), Gwenaël Clause (Tony) and Guillaume Matton (Apprentice).
 
Christopher Bayemi, who plays Dr. Bonnemain, is also the French Luther in TF1's adaptation of the BBC series. Season 1 of HPI comes to an end perfectly with Homme de peu de foi, written by Stéphane Carrié and Alice Chegaray-Breugnot.  An ice skater is found dead, hit by her own car and the only person who witnessed the scene is a blind young woman. Céline is angry with Adam while both Karadec's collaboration with Morgane and his career are at the crossroads.

With Christopher Bayemi (Dr. Bonnemain), Omar Mebrouk as Adam's brother Sofiane Karadec, Romane Portail (Sense8) as Émilie, Héloïse Wagner (Iris Beauchamp), Quitterie Picamoles (Rebecca Weil), Jack Claudany (Tardieu), Céline Vitcoq (Laurine), Claudine Vigreux (Eliott's teacher), Melissandre Fortumeau (Pauline Garcia), Julien Tortora (Bruno), Husky Kihal (Filipe Garcia), Denis Duval (Priest) and Justine Guerville (Skater). 
 
Produced by Septembre Productions and Itinéraire Productions with TF1, Be-Films, RTBF (Télévision belge) and Pictanovo. Filmed with the support of Région Hauts-de-France. Made in association with Umedia and the support of the Tax Shelter du Gouvernement Fédéral de Belgique. Jean Nainchrik, Anthony Lancret and Pierre Laugier are the line producers. Patrice Onfray exec produces. Produced by Anthony Lancret, Pierre Laugier and Bérengère Legrand.
 
Music by Yannis Dumoutiers. Cinematography by Laurent Machuel. Editing by Stéphanie Pelissier (Episode 7) and Nicolas Pechitch (Episode 8). Main title design by Brett & Cie (Crimes parfaits). Visual effects by Super 35 Productions. High Intellectual Potential (the international title of HPI) is distributed by Newen Connect. The series has established itself as a ratings juggernaut in France and Belgium (where it aired ahead of TF1), beating historic records (4) and ranking amongst the most watched dramas in Europe.

HPI could have been a hit on just the name of the versatile Audrey Fleurot Le Bazar de la Charité drew almost 8m viewers. Of course, the actress is amazing right from the start of the first episode and that's enough to forget a concept which sounds like a parody. Her chemistry with Mehdi Nebbou is fantastic and they make their characters irresistible, a prowess for an umpteenth ill-assorted detective duo. Their talents are aptly served by the quality of the production and the writing.
 
The 8 episodes are available on Salto, the French streaming service. Unsurprisingly, HPI has been renewed for a second season.
 
(1) Based on an idea from Nicolas Jean. Djibril Glissant and Franck Martins contributed to the series.
(2)  The great French actor Rufus appears in 4 episodes as Henri, the neighbour of Morgane Alvaro. Michèle Moretti plays Agnès Alvaro, Morgane's mother, in 3 episodes.
 
Previous reviews of HPI:
 
 
See also:

https://www.salto.fr/   

Monday, 10 May 2021

HPI - SEASON 1, EPISODES 5 & 6: TEL MAÎTRE, TEL CHIEN & HEP ET SOJA (TF1)

The amazing Audrey Fleurot (Spiral, A French Village) shines in HPI, a fun and well-crafted 8 x 52-minute French comedy/crime drama created by Alice Chegaray-Breugnot and Nicolas Jean 
— two of the creators of La Mante — with Stéphane Carrié (1) for TF1

Audrey Fleurot plays Morgane Alvaro, 38, a single mother of three (from two different fathers) with a disdain for authority and a 160 I.Q. that makes her HPI (Haut Potentiel Intellectuel, hence the title). Morgane was a cleaning lady at the commissariat de Lille until Commissaire Céline Hazan noticed her abilities and offered her a consultant job. She accepted but only if Hazan found what happened to Romain, the father of her daughter missing for 15 years. The no-nonsense Commandant Adam Karadec is less than pleased to work with this uncontrollable civilian who hates cops!
 
The actors alongside Audrey Fleurot are excellent: Mehdi Nebbou, who worked for Steven Spielberg or Ridley Scott and appeared on German TV in Tatort and GSG 9 – Ihr Einsatz ist ihr Leben or in the U.S. drama Homeland, plays Karadec. Céline Hazan is played by Marie Denarnaud (La malédiction du volcan). The other regulars are Bruno Sanches (Gilles Vandraud), Bérangère McNeese (Daphné Forestier), Cypriane Gardin (Théa), Noé Vandevoorde (Eliott), Cédric Chevalme (Ludovic Mullier) and  Rufus as Henri
 
Vincent Jamain (Balthazar, Profilage) helmed the first four episodes, filmed from November 2019 to the end of January 2020 (2). All filmings (movies + series) were interrupted in France between March and May 2020 because of COVID-19. Laurent Tuel directed the remaining episodes between August and October 2020. This second half feels like an advanced season 2, visually and thanks to a few tweaks. It starts brilliantly with Tel maître, tel chien, written by Julien Anscutter, Charlène Galan and Alice Chegaray-Breugnot (with Stéphane Carrié). 
 
A man is found in a park garage, suffocated with a plastic bag. When his heart starts again, he's rushed to the hospital. The victim of this attempted murder had an improbable dog and an estranged daughter. Morgane visits the hairdresser, calls the paramedics and detects magnetic fields. The resolution of what looked like the story arc of the season so soon is a bit surprising. Audrey Fleurot and Mehdi Nebbou are at their best and an ingenious plot is punctuated with fast-paced comedy and emotion. Bruno Sanches is more present.
 
With Juliette Navis (Dr. Isabelle Meyer), Léa Zerbib (Alexia Kerr), Julien Bravo (Clément Saada), Jeanne Guittet (Chloé Guyot), Emmanuel Plovier (Emilien Kerr), Éric Beauchamp (Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie) as Paramedic 1, Audrey Chapon (Concierge), Marie-Josée Billet (Nurse Martine) and Michel Wiame (Hairdresser). HPI has another winner with Hep et soja, written by Alexandra Julhiet, Laurent Vignon, Julien Anscutter and Alice Chegaray-Breugnot (with Stéphane Carrié) and set in the world of football supporters.
 
The team's latest investigation is disturbed by a recent bizarre dream of Karadec and Morgane's daughter Théa, who's doing an internship at the commissariat. Gilles, Daphné and Morgane eat a cake. The red tornado meets the Red Dogs and ends up in a garbage container. Michèle Moretti plays Agnès Alvaro. With Omar Mebrouk as Adam's brother Sofiane Karadec, Alexandre Picot (Fred Van Heart), Jules Houplain (Police de caractères) as Hugo Viniali, Frédéric Épaud (Cyril Prigent), Pauline Clément of the Comédie française (Myriam Forestier), Gilles Creton (Alex Viniali), Michel Masiero (Supporter 1) and Ludovic Berthillot (Jean-Marc). 
 
Christopher Bayemi (Dr. Bonnemain) is also the French Luther in TF1's adaptation of the BBC series. Produced by Septembre Productions and Itinéraire Productions with TF1, Be-Films, RTBF (Télévision belge) and Pictanovo. Filmed with the support of Région Hauts-de-France. Made in association with Umedia and the support of the Tax Shelter du Gouvernement Fédéral de Belgique. Jean Nainchrik, Anthony Lancret and Pierre Laugier are the line producers. Patrice Onfray exec produces.  
 
Produced by Anthony Lancret, Pierre Laugier and Bérengère Legrand. Music by Yannis Dumoutiers. Cinematography by Laurent Machuel. Editing by Nicolas Pechitch. Main title design by Brett & Cie (Crimes parfaits). Visual effects by Super 35 Productions. High Intellectual Potential (the international title of HPI) is distributed by Newen Connect. In week 2, the series confirmed its status of ratings juggernaut, beating historic records (3). The 8 episodes are available on Salto, the French streaming service.

Friday, 30 April 2021

HPI - SEASON 1, EPISODES 3 & 4: COLIN-MAILLARD & PHYLLOBATES TERRIBILIS (TF1)

The fabulous Audrey Fleurot (Spiral, A French Village) stars in HPI, a fun and well-crafted 8 x 52-minute French comedy/crime drama created by Alice Chegaray-Breugnot and Nicolas Jean  — two of the creators of La Mante — with Stéphane Carrié (1) for TF1
 
Vincent Jamain (Balthazar, Profilage) helmed the first four episodes and Laurent Tuel did the rest. 

Audrey Fleurot plays Morgane Alvaro, 38, single mother of three children (from two different fathers) and cleaning lady at the commissariat de Lille with a disdain for authority and a 160 I.Q. that makes her HPI (Haut Potentiel Intellectuel, hence the title). Following her unsolicited intervention on a case, Commissaire Céline Hazan orders Commandant Adam Karadec to bring Morgane on the investigation. The no-nonsense Karadec is less than pleased to work with this uncontrollable civilian who hates cops! 
 
Alvaro finally accepts to be a consultant for the police but only if Hazan finds what happened to Romain, the father of her daughter missing for 15 years. Mehdi Nebbou, who worked for Steven Spielberg or Ridley Scott and appeared on German TV in Tatort and GSG 9 – Ihr Einsatz ist ihr Leben or in the U.S. drama Homeland, plays Karadec. Céline Hazan is played by Marie Denarnaud (La malédiction du volcan). Also starring Bruno Sanches (Gilles Vandraud), Bérangère McNeese (Daphné Forestier), Cypriane Gardin (Théa), Noé Vandevoorde (Eliott), Rufus (Henri) and Michèle Moretti as Morgane's mother Agnès.
 
In Colin-maillard, Commandant Karadec suggests Morgane Alvaro to confront Agnès about the video but she can't. Florence Grangeon comes to the police station with her father Arnaud Grangeon, owner of a chain of luxury hotels, to report the disappearance of her two little girls. Did Frank Sorin, their father separated from Florence for six months, kidnap them? Morgane gives Adam a lecture about permaculture and risks big to find the children in this excellent episode which combines comedy (the talent of Audrey Fleurot + fast-paced montages of stock photos), suspense and emotion.

Written by Julien Anscutter, Marion Carnel and Alice Chegaray-Breugnot (with Stéphane Carrié). Christopher Bayemi, who plays Dr. Bonnemain is also the French Luther in TF1's adaptation of the BBC series. Guest starring Michel Voïta (Baron noir, R.I.S. Police scientifique) as Arnaud, Clémentine Baert (Florence), François Pérache (Jérémy Morel), Annette Lowcay (Agathe Grangeon), Olivier Faliez (Ivan), Juliette André (Juliette), Margot André (Laura), Saverio Maligno (Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie) as Maître Balland, Cerise Peroua (Cheryl), Pauline Pouchin (Clara Patrelli), Jean-Pierre Duthoit (Antique dealer) and Cédric Le Maoût (Clerk).

Phyllobates terribilis is the latin  name of the Golden poison frog. It's also the title of the very good fourth episode, written by Julien Anscutter, Julie-Anna Grignon and Alice Chegaray-Breugnot (with Stéphane Carrié). Fanny Marini, a veterinarian specialized in exotic animals, is murdered. The vet's ex-boyfriend just got out of prison and recently her clients started to grow disatisfied. Morgane saves the life of Karadec and finally talks to her mother. No spoilers but the epilogue leaves a tad perplexed. 
 
With Akache Busiah (Ranir, owner of the restaurant), Christelle Cornil (Camille Duez), Christophe Sermet (Paul Duez), Thao Maerten (Maël Duez), Frédéric Quiring (Loïc Ballant), Agnès Château (Odile Marini), Jacques Bouanich (Thierry Marini), etc. Produced by Septembre Productions and Itinéraire Productions with TF1, Be-Films, RTBF (Télévision belge) and Pictanovo. Filmed with the support of Région Hauts-de-France. Made in association with Umedia and the support of the Tax Shelter du Gouvernement Fédéral de Belgique.
 
Jean Nainchrik, Anthony Lancret and Pierre Laugier are the line producers. Patrice Onfray exec produces.  Produced by Anthony Lancret, Pierre Laugier and Bérengère Legrand. Music by Yannis Dumoutiers. Cinematography by Benjamin Louet. Editing by Emmanuel Douce. High Intellectual Potential (the international title of HPI) is distributed by Newen Connect. HPI started this week on TF1 with phenomenal ratings (2). The 8 episodes are available on Salto, the French streaming service.

Saturday, 24 April 2021

HPI - SEASON 1, EPISODES 1 & 2: VENTS D'OUEST & COUTUME MALGACHE (TF1)

In a world overcrowded with crime and mystery dramas where eccentric and loose cannon sleuths are dime a dozen, only one woman can make the difference... Audrey Fleurot.
 
The bottom line: Come for Audrey Fleurot, stay for the show.
 
Audrey Fleurot (Spiral, A French Village) stars in HPI, a 8 x 52-minute French comedy/crime drama created for TF1 by Alice Chegaray-Breugnot and Nicolas Jean two of the creators of La Mante with Stéphane Carrié (1). Vincent Jamain (Balthazar, Profilage) helmed the first four episodes and Laurent Tuel did the rest. The actress plays Morgane Alvaro, 38, single mother of three children (from two different fathers) and cleaning lady at the commissariat de Lille with a disdain for authority and a 160 I.Q. that makes her HPI (Haut Potentiel Intellectuel, hence the title). When Morgane accidentally reads the file of a murder case, she deduces that its prime suspect is a victim too.
 
Both embarassed and intrigued, Commissaire Céline Hazan orders Commandant Adam Karadec to bring Morgane Alvaro on the investigation. The no-nonsense Karadec is less than pleased to work with this uncontrollable civilian who hates cops! At first, HPI looks like a parody: it takes Morgane less than 30 seconds to practice her "HPIsm" during a 3-minute pre-credit sequence meant to sell the series if you missed the trailer. But Audrey Fleurot is fabulous (of course) right from the start of Vents d'ouest, the pleasant premiere episode — written by Alice Chegaray-Breugnot, Stéphane Carrié and Nicolas Jean, whose plot could fit in any crime drama of the moment.
 
The husband of a lawyer has been killed and the police believes his wife did it because she has disappeared. Poor Commandant Karadec does his best to follow the red tornado. Finally she accepts to be a police consultant only if Commissaire Hazan finds what happened to Romain, the father of her daughter missing for 15 years. The actors alongside Audrey Fleurot are excellent: Mehdi Nebbou, who worked for Steven Spielberg or Ridley Scott and appeared on German TV in Tatort and GSG 9 – Ihr Einsatz ist ihr Leben or in the U.S. drama Homeland, plays Karadec. Céline Hazan is played by Marie Denarnaud (La malédiction du volcan).
 
The other regulars are Bruno Sanches (Gilles Vandraud), Bérangère McNeese (Daphné Forestier), Cypriane Gardin (Théa), Noé Vandevoorde (Eliott), Cédric Chevalme (Ludovic Mullier) and  the great Rufus as Henri. The guest stars of Episode 1 are Christopher Bayemi (Dr. Bonnemain), Akache Busiah (Ranir), Émilie Lafarge (Rosalie Tellier),  Camille Aguilar (Mathilde Levasseur), Philippe Capelle (Maître Sédillot), Benjamin Egner (Philippe Leroux), Caroline Filipek (Jeanne Levasseur), etc. Things get really interesting in Coutume malgache, penned by Stéphane Carrié, Alice Chegaray-Breugnot and Nicolas Jean.
 
In the impeccable second episode, a man is murdered and found dead in the bathtub of an expensive suite of a luxury hotel. The victim stole the identity of a Belgian citizen and his life was a lie with sad consequences. Karadec and Alvaro try to adjust to each other. The commandant runs in the kitchen and discovers something about Romain. The guest stars of Episode 2 are Nicolas Baisin (Romain), Salima Glamine (Alexandra Berger), Victor Pontecorvo (Greg), Vassili Schneider (Erwan Ribois), Catherine Demaiffe (Blood of the Vine) as Gladys Puger, Isabelle Defosse (Ève Ribois), etc. Produced by Septembre Productions and Itinéraire Productions with TF1, Be-Films, RTBF (Télévision belge) and Pictanovo. 
 
Filmed with the support of Région Hauts-de-France. Made in association with Umedia and the support of the Tax Shelter du Gouvernement Fédéral de Belgique. Jean Nainchrik, Anthony Lancret and Pierre Laugier are the line producers. Patrice Onfray exec produces.  Produced by Anthony Lancret, Pierre Laugier and Bérengère Legrand. Music by Yannis Dumoutiers. Cinematography by Benjamin Louet. Editing by Jean de Garrigues. High Intellectual Potential (the international title of HPI) is distributed by Newen Connect. These enjoyable first episodes of HPI, which will be shown by TF1 on April 29th, promise a good series.

The 8 episodes of HPI are already available on Salto, the French streaming service.

(1) Based on an idea from Nicolas Jean. Djibril Glissant and Franck Martins contributed to the series.