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Farewell to P.D. James

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

The highly talented P.D. James just passed away at the age of 94. She was a very gifted and hugely prolific mystery writer and her bio reads like a novel-- full of quirks and unexpected turns and evidence of a long life well-lived.

Her first novel featuring her iconic detective Adam Dalgliesh was published in 1964. During the 1980's many of James's mystery novels were adapted for television by ITV and featured on PBS. We have a great selection from which to choose.

In 2006 her novel The Children of Men (1992) was the basis for the feature film of the same name and starred Clive Owen, Julianne Moore and Michael Caine. While the adaptation does not follow the book that closely James was reportedly pleased with the adaptation and proud to be associated with the film. This novel was quite a departure from her usual writings as it did not feature a murder to be solved but rather was a near future dystopian cautionary tale.

Just recently Death Comes to Pemberley aired on PBS. All you Jane Austen fans should recognize the name and yes, it is that Pemberley. If you missed it, we’ve got you covered.

Check out any of the following--these early adaptations into film follow her novels closely and Ray Marsden is excellent as the quiet, brilliant and introspective Dalgliesh. She is also an excellent read.

Death of an Expert Witness ;Shroud for a Nightingale ; Cover Her Face; The Black Tower ;Unnatural Causes; Original Sin; A Taste For Death; Devices and Desires; A Mind to Murder; A Certain Justice; Death in Holy Orders ;The Murder Room

Old Dogs When Younger

by Melanie - 0 Comment(s)

New Tricks is a British crime series that has aired for ten seasons. What distinguishes it is the mix of humour and investigation (it has more ongoing humour than in Midsomer Murders). I was skeptical at first but the show offers serious police procedure and a different cold case each week. On the plus side, it's not gory or forensic-based unlike nearly every show on TV for the last few years.

In New Tricks, retired police make up the Unsolved Crimes and Open Case Squad. Brian is a recovering alcoholic with OCD, Jerry the lad with multiple ex-wives and a gambling urge, and Jack, a widower who still converses with his wife who's buried in his back yard. Heading up the team is Sandra, the long-suffering chief superintendent whom everyone assumes is someone's girlfriend.

If you are already enjoying this series, check out their earlier endeavors:

Circles of Deceit, starring Jerry (Dennis Waterman) and Brian's wife (Susan Jameson) in a not-so-meek-and-mild role as the Controller.

Garrow's Law, the 18th century courtroom drama, in which a younger Brian (Alun Armstrong) plays a judge.

Sherlock, Downton and Selfridges

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

 

If you are as rabid a fan as I am of the new Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman you will know that episode one of Season Three aired on January the 19th. If you need a reminder of what happened at the end of Season Two -- a whole two years ago -- grab it here. Not a fan yet? Start at the beginning with Season One and it won't be long before you're hooked. And would you believe you can already place holds on Season Three although it is not on our shelves yet?

I came across an interesting article on IMDB that says thanks to the incredible North American popularity of Sherlock, Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge, PBS Masterpiece Classics has been pulled back from the brink. It lost its major funding and was close to the edge when Exxon Mobile withdrew. You know all those commercials with the incredibly thin beautiful women in the incredibly exotic beautiful gowns? And all those fantastic looking cruises? Well, thanks to Ralph Lauren and Viking Cruises, Masterpiece Classics is fully funded right through to the end of 2014. I might just have to buy one of those fur hats to wear while I cruise up the Volga to express my gratitude. Seriously, thanks Ralph and Viking!

And if you look around town you just might see Sherlock's co-star Martin Freeman as he is currently in Calgary shooting “Fargo” for FX. The original Fargo is one of the Coen brothers more quirky offerings and if you know the Coen brothers that's saying something. It is an extremely violent but nonetheless exceptional film that won two Oscars including Best Actress for Frances McDormand and Best Original Screen Play for the Coens.

Best Thriller of the Year

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

Sometimes a movie just comes and goes without a lot of noise and if you aren't watching for it you don't know what you've missed. This is especially true of Prisoners which just had its theatrical release in September and has already gone to DVD. This wasn't on my radar either and I am so glad that fellow Movie Maniac Mat steered me towards it.

The acting in this is tremendous. Often I find when a movie is an ensemble with a bunch of well-known names it just doesn't come together like it should. This is not the case here. Everybody's performances are controlled and hit all the right marks. I've never seen a better performance from Hugh Jackman--this is not gruff but lovable Wolverine, nor heroic Jean valJean singing his heart out. This is a man absolutely driven by his certainty, past the point of all reason. Jake Gyllenhaal is pitch perfect, and the two of them deserve any awards thrown their way. Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, Paul Dano, Maria Bello, and Viola Davis round out the very good cast.

This is the best thriller I have seen all year, maybe even a couple of years. There's no denying it is dark and there are some very disturbing scenes that I actually had to look away from, but what a story. Tightly woven interconnecting threads come together for an explosive ending that leaves you reeling. Don't wait to put your hold on this one.

If this doesn't get some Oscar nods I will be seriously disappointed.

More Commissario Brunetti

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

 

 

If you have been following this really well crafted series you will be happy to know we have four more titles. Episodes 15/16 and 17/18 are just arriving on the shelves and don't have too many holds on them.

Never heard of it? Read our previous post about this very popular series based on Donna Leon's Italian detective.

More from PBS and ITV

by Moe - 2 Comment(s)

I know your Sunday nights are likely already full with Mad Men, Game of Thrones and the Good Wife, but that's what a DVR is for. Don't have a DVR, or didn't get it live streamed in time? That's what the library is for.

Here are a couple of very decent British mystery mini-series, including one airing on Sunday night, that might not be on your radar yet.

Currently on PBS is a beaut of a mystery called The Bletchley Circle. A three episode series, if you have missed the first two episodes shown, we have it on order and coming soon. Great period piece about four former WWII code breakers, trying to solve a string of murders. If you're a fan of Foyle's War you'll love this one. If you haven't seen Foyle yet, don't wait any longer—it's great.

Next up we have Exile, starring John Simm from the popular Life on Mars series and Jim Broadbent from everything else. Exile is a compelling story of a man who returns home after an eighteen year absence determined to unravel the mystery that drove him away in the first place. Another short watch at only 180 minutes.

Enjoy.

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Injustice

by Moe - 0 Comment(s)

Just released to DVD in August and new to our shelves is the courtroom/murder drama Injustice. From the talented and prolific Anthony Horowitz (Foyle's War, Silk, Midsomers Murders) comes this 5 hour British mini-series. Once started it is hard to disengage from, so set some time aside to watch this.

The story follows William Travers, an accomplished criminal barrister living an idyllic life in rural Suffolk. Asked to defend an old friend accused of murder he does so reluctantly and then only because he knows him incapable of the crime of which he is accused. Interconnecting plots are nicely woven together as we watch William struggle with one or two unresolved issues of his own. Strong performances by James Purefoy and Nathaniel Parker—you'll recognize them when you see them.

Endeavour

by Moe - 1 Comment(s)

The Inspector Morse series is very popular, having run for 12 years, but it was never my cup of tea---or rather my pint of beer. I far prefer the spin off - Inspector Lewis, which is up to series 5, all of which CPL carries.

But when I saw this brand new release (July 1/2012) on the shelves I thought I would give it a look. Set in 1965, young Detective Constable Endeavour Morse (Blu-Ray) investigates his first case in Oxford. I'm glad I took the time for this one - a very well crafted mystery, and as always with PBS Mysteries fine, fine acting from the seemingly limitless pool of talent that is British television.

If they make any more of these, count me in! Then I might find myself a Morse convert in need of many hours to reevaluate the original series. Use Inspector Morse DVD as your keyword search to bring up dozens and dozens of the original series.

More TV series in the House, er... Library

by Melanie - 0 Comment(s)

DexterIt's that time of the year again when many of us start searching the catalogue to place holds on favorite DVDs newly acquired by the library. Here's a short reminder list about the mystery and other series in now and available soon:

  • Lewis, Series 5
  • George Gently, Series 3
  • Doc Martin Series 5
  • Dexter, Complete 6th Season, on order (place your hold now)
  • Weeds, Season 8, and Wallander (featuring Kenneth Branagh): eagerly awaiting these!

 

Any series we've missed? Add your comments...

Another Great British Mystery Series

by Melanie - 0 Comment(s)

If you are a Wallander, Morse or Prime Suspect (Helen Mirren) fan, you'll enjoy this set of longer mysteries based on Ann Cleeves' mystery novels featuring detective Vera Stanhope. Like her predecessors, Vera's a driven and somewhat unhappy figure. Her job is to seek justice not "to make people happy" as she notes in one episode. She's humorous and lovingly chastises her sidekick, as Morse does. Vera, the series, has great camerawork, as Wallander does. Not Sweden, but what is it about gloomy Northumberland? George Gently is filmed in part there also. Looking forward to more...

And why not adapt Cleeves' Jimmy Perez character too? He's another great character and setting. Is anyone listening there in tv land?

In the meantime, checkout Ann Cleeves' novels.

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