DVD Review – The Bureau – Complete Season Two

BUREAU_S2_2D_DVD

Addictive spy thriller should be your next binge-watch.

The Bureau‘s first season offered a realistic portrayal of modern day espionage far removed from the stylised version offered up by the James Bond films. Ten thrilling episodes kept viewers on the edge of their seats as French intelligence officer Malotru (Mathieu Kassovitz) tore up the rule book and endangered France’s national security. In the closing moments of the series newly promoted to deputy director of the Directorate General of External Security (DGSE) he agreed to become a double-agent for the CIA.

The Bureau S2_9

More intense than the first season, The Bureau‘s return is wider in scope. At its heart, the series is a powerful study of treachery, torment, and the shifting tectonic plates of geopolitics. Already in production when the Charlie Hebdo attacks occurred, showrunner Éric Rochant’s screenplays address concerns about the rise of homegrown extremism and the state’s ineffectiveness in combating Isis and Al-Qaeda.

Contrasting the spectacle of fieldwork in Damascus, Istanbul, and Tehran with a complex web of paranoia in the DGSE’s headquarters, it’s an unremittingly intense drama. Immersive and utterly convincing, The Bureau occasionally plays like an anti-Homeland. Perhaps the closest television will ever get to presenting a glimpse into the fight against terror without artifice or flag waving.

The Bureau – Complete Season Two is available to order from Amazon

Advertisements

DVD Review: Follow The Money – The Complete Season Two

FOLLOW_THE_MONEY_S2_2D_DVD

Second season of the corporate drama proves that even Nordic Noir can have an off moment.

As the closing credits rolled on Follow the Money‘s first season it seemed that the story had reached its natural conclusion. Energreen’s CEO Alexander Sødergren may have been able to evade the forces of law and order in his Brazilian hideout but was unable to avoid the wrath of the firm’s chairman, Knud Christensen.

12801251_1038416062866086_6893001674907743999_n

Picking up events 18 months after Sødergren’s assassination, Follow the Money’s second season stumbles at the starting block and never recovers. The first series managed to finds its unsteady feet after an opening episode which committed the cardinal sin of hitting the viewer with too much exposition. Problems already evident in the first season are magnified in this second outing. Never recovering from an implausible opening episode which sets up a succession of improbable alliances this sophomore outing is a surprising misfire from DR’s drama department.

A brave but ultimately doomed attempt to fuse the visceral thrills of a crime series with an exploration of corporate malfeasance. Follow the Money is occasionally thrilling but mostly infuriating.

Lacking the depth of shows from Nordic Noir’s golden period, it’s a bland attempt to rehash the limited successes of a failed format. A tolerance for clumsy dialogue and an unhealthy suspension of disbelief are required to sit through Follow the Money.

Follow The Money – The Complete Season Two is available to order from Amazon

 

DVD Review: Follow The Money – The Complete Season One

follow_the_money_dvd

Nordic drama exposes corporate corruption.

Is greed good? Gordon Gekko’s infamous speech in the 1987 movie Wall Street made a case for the pursuit of corporate self-interest. After the devastating effects of the global economic crash corporate raiders pursuing fast profits were seen as sharp-suited vultures who had wrecked lives and saddled future generations with insurmountable debt. Taking the financial services industry to task, Follow the Money looks at the drive to green-light renewable energy projects and dares to investigate the legitimacy of its funding.

12715442_1025619360812423_3945023879295868305_n

Inspired by The Wire, Follow the Money is a flawed exploration of fraud and its consequences. Ambitious in scope, the series endeavours to offers a sprawling, intelligent, and shocking expose of crooked deals and cold-hearted morality but is occasionally crushed by a lack of focus. Attempting to prove that something is rotten in the state of Denmark Follow the Money‘s novelistic approach occasionally misfires. A brave experiment? Sign that Nordic drama is in transition? Signal that the well is starting to run dry? Far removed from the creative heights of The Bridge or The Killing, the series is a predictable schedule-filler.

12654598_1025619157479110_2188503254340595284_n

With a continent still reeling from the aftershocks of the 2008 crash a drama exposing the practices which brought the world to its knees should have been a recipe for riveting television. Starting with the death of a windshore turbine engineer Follow the Money‘s opening episode is a spectacular misfire. Teetering on the tightrope to failure it tosses in familiar, all-too-familiar, elements of more accomplished Nordic Noir series before loading the opening episode with too many characters and far too much plot. While later episodes settle into a more relaxed pattern it may be too late for viewers that have already pressed eject on their remote and decided to watch something else.

Follow The Money – The Complete Season One is available to order from Amazon

Beyond Words – Live French Literature Festival

header

Institut français has announced it will host a Beyond Words, brand new festival celebrating French literature. A six-day programme of events packed with guest appearances of French-language writers recently translated into English, and English-language writers who have a special love affair with France, including Delphine de Vigan, Alexis Jenni, Lydie Salvayre, Laurent Binet, Hisham Matar and Michael Rosen.

The festival opens on Thursday 11 May with a staged reading of Edouard Louis’ The End of Eddy with Henry Pettigrew in the title role. Star speakers Michael Rosen and David Bellos will talk about Emile Zola and Victor Hugo and their relevance to our times. Meanwhile, Goncourt Prize-winning Alexis Jenni, just published in English (The French Art of War), and PEN award and Pulitzer prize winner Hisham Matar, just published in French (The Return), will meet to discuss the Re-writing of History, accompanied by their translators Frank Wynne and Agnès Desarthe.

Hugely popular in France, prize-winning writers Lydie Salvayre, Delphine de Vigan, and Laurent Binet will be making exceptional London appearances to talk about their recently translated novels (Cry, Mother Spain, Based on a True Story, The Seventh Function of Language), both at the Institut français and at the British Library where a special evening on contemporary French fiction takes place on 15 May. To celebrate the 2017 Man Booker International Prize, a performance of staged and musical readings of Mathias Enard and Alain Mabanckou’s longlisted books (Compass, Black Moses) will take place at the Institut français on 13 May. Dulwich Books will also be hosting an afternoon session with festival guests on 14 May.

French poetry will not be forgotten, with an original collective live reading experience led by Erica Jarnes in partnership with the Southbank Poetry Library. Nor will philosophy, with a special session on truth and fiction. Other highlights include talks with Dionysos lead singer Mathias Malzieu who will be launching his Diary of a Vampire in Pyjamas, Emmanuelle Pagano and Ananda Devi, both recently translated into English this year (Trysting, Eve Out of Her Ruins).

There will be on-site booksellers and book signing sessions throughout the festival, as well as a special selection of film adaptations including Corniche Kennedy (Maylis de Kerangal), A Woman’s Life (Maupassant) and Hiroshima mon Amour (Duras).

Venue: Institut français, 17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DT – Info & bookings: www.beyondwordslitfest.co.uk