DVD Review: Follow The Money – The Complete Season Two

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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.

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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

 

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DVD Review: Follow The Money – The Complete Season One

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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.

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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.

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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

DVD News: Follow The Money – The Complete Series One

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Arrow Films has announced the Monday 25th April DVD & BLU-RAY release of the complete first season of the Danish financial crime thriller Follow the Money.

The series centres around one of Denmark’s leading energy companies, ‘Energreen’, and the endless layers of fraud and corruption which point towards insider trading and the death of an industrial employee. With a ruthless and troubled police officer determined to get to the bottom of this deception, a charismatic CEO set on growing his international business, a young lawyer desperate to advance in the company, and an ex-con devoted to provide for his family, this story becomes one of us human beings, the rich, the poor, the greedy, the fraudulent, the robbers who’ll go to any lengths to build the lives of our dreams.

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“A complex, sure-to-be-addictive tale of financial
lies and misdeeds”
– The Observer

“Nordic Noir is back on form with Follow the Money” 
– The Times

“Stylish and compelling”
– The Guardian

“Another Nordic noir that’s right on the money”
– Metro

Follow The Money is available to pre-order from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Follow-The-Money-DVD/dp/B01CF3BF0I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1459340115&sr=8-1&keywords=follow+the+money

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Follow-The-Money-Blu-ray/dp/B01CF3BC8S/ref=sr_1_1_twi_blu_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1459340115&sr=8-1&keywords=follow+the+money

Event News: Crime Fiction At This Year’s Jewish Book Week

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CRIME FICTION AT THIS YEAR’S JEWISH BOOK WEEK

20-28 FEBRUARY 2016

 

● Mishka Ben-David ● Professor Saul David ● Jenni Frazer ● Jonathan Freedland ● Mark Lawson ● Adam LeBor ● Harri Nykänen ● Kristina Ohlsson ● Matt Rees ●

 

 Jewish Book Week (JBW) will be welcoming a number of critically acclaimed crime writers to its festival in London next month as part of its ten-day events programme.

Authors speaking include ex-Mossad officer Mishka Ben-David; two of Northern Europe’s most celebrated crime fiction writers – ex-OSCE Counter Terrorism Officer Kristina Ohlsson and former crime journalist Harri Nykänen, creator of Jewish-Finnish detective Ariel Kafka – with talks including everything from historical thrillers, to the real-life story of the 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight from Tel Aviv to Paris and the mission to save the hostages.

Authors participating in the 2016 programme include:

·         Sunday 21 February, 17:00-18:00.  Location: Kings Place

Award winning crime writer Matt Rees teamed up with the late Yehuda Avner, adviser to Israeli Prime Ministers, to write The Ambassadors, an historical thriller set in Nazi Germany.  What if Israel had been founded before the Holocaust?  Might its existence have changed the course of European history?   This event will be chaired by journalist Jenni Frazer.

·         Wednesday 24 February, 19:00-20.00.  Location: Kings Place

Bestselling author and award-winning journalist Jonathan Freedland will discuss The 3rd Woman, the first thriller to be published under his own name, in conversation with author and broadcaster Mark Lawson.  His book is a high-concept thriller set in a world in which the USA bows to the People’s Republic of China, corruption is rife and the government dictates what the ‘truth’ is.   Jonathan Freedland will explore the genesis of his novel about an individual’s quest for justice.

·         Friday 26 February, 13:00-14:00.  Location: JW3 (in association with Halban Publishers)

‘Spies: Fact and Fiction’Mishka Ben-David served in Mossad as a high-ranking officer. Now a full-time novelist, he writes tense thrillers about Mossad agents worldwide. Forbidden Love in St Petersburg is his second translated novel and he talks about his time in Mossad and how it informs his writing, in conversation with international bestselling author, Adam LeBor, whose novel The Reykjavik Assignment, features rogue ex-Mossad agent Yael Azoulay.

·         Sunday 28 February, 15:30-16:30.  Location: Kings Place

‘Nordic Noir’ – Two of Northern Europe’s most celebrated crime fiction writers, Finland’s Harri Nykänen, creator of Jewish detective Ariel Kafka, andKristina Ohlsson, one of Sweden’s foremost crime writers, introduce their latest page-turners to UK audiences with fellow crime writer Adam LeBor.

 Non-fiction events in the programme include ‘Operation Thunderbolt’ with historian and broadcaster Professor Saul David talking about his fast-paced account of the 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight from Tel Aviv to Paris, and the daring, secret mission orchestrated by the Israeli government to save the hostages, which will take place at JW3 on 25 February.

 In addition to events focusing on crime fiction, JBW, London’s International Festival of Arts and Ideas, will feature topical debates, interviews, performance, debut writers, writers-in-translation and fringe events, designed to appeal to all ages, faiths and ethnicities,covering, amongst other areas: art and photography; biography & memoir; religion & society; science & technology; private passions; and war & conflict.

 Please see www.jewishbookweek.com to view the full festival programme and pricing information.

 Venue information:

Events will be held at Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9AG; and at JW3, 341-351 Finchley Road, London NW3 6ET

Box office information:

Tickets can be purchased online by telephone or in person through:

·         The Jewish Book Week website at www.jewishbookweek.com

·         Kings Place Box Office, tel: 020 7520 1490, www.kingsplace.co.uk/jbw

·         JW3 Box Office, tel: 020 7433 8988, www.JW3.org.uk

Bridge Over Nordic Water

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How a TV series is helping transform Malmö into a must visit destination: Sweden’s third largest city is the backdrop to a hit Scandi-crime series.

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Showing no signs off running out of steam the third season of Danish-Swedish crime series The Bridge has been a critical and ratings success throughout Scandinavia.

One of Scandinavian TV’s biggest exports, The Bridge has been screened in 174 countries. Interest in the series is at an all time high cementing the third season’s status as one of 2015’s most anticipated returning dramas.

Since The Bridge first aired on BBC Four Malmö has had an allure for fans of Nordic Noir eager to follow in the footsteps of Saga Norén and Martin Rhode. In tandem with the launch of the third season a series of events and activities have been organised that that will satisfy even the most ardent Saga Norén fans. 

Malmö Museer’s display of props, costumes, and set designs is a must visit destination for aficionados. Running until September 2016 the exhibition is entitled ‘A Non-Existent Malmö’. As the title reflects, The Bridge represents a Malmö that does not exist. The collection of exhibits invites visitors to consider what The Bridge’s success may say about contemporary Nordic society.

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Alongside Saga Norén’s costume and mustard coloured Porsche, the centrepiece of the exhibition is a concrete bunker which represents cracks in the welfare state. Visitors that peer through the fractured edifice will see props and costumes from all three seasons including amulets and animal masks from the second series.

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The exhibition also includes photographs, video clips, a map of Malmö locations featured in the series, and a large production bible which details the series creators’ key creative choices offering a revealing insight into the workings behind a hit TV series. Illuminating and engaging, the exhibition provides an exhaustive overview of The Bridge and its place in modern Scandinavian society.

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Fans eager to take the experience of being in Malmö to an entirely different level should book a place on the location tour.

Travelling around the city’s hotspots, its backstreets and deserted industrial plants, a guide reveals behind the scenes stories, explains how Malmö has been transformed in recent years, and offers insights into Swedish culture.

An on board DVD player screens clips enabling fans to compare locations with their appearance on screen.

The tour lets fans follow in the footsteps of on-screen detectives Saga Norén and Martin Rohde. Viewers will be surprised to discover that a doctor’s surgery doubles as the city’s police station in the series. Taking in Malmö locations featured prominently in the series the tour visits the exterior of Saga Norén’s apartment block and offers fans spectacular views of the Öresund Bridge. 

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Backdrop to three seasons of murder, intrigue, and international police co-operation, the Öresund Bridge is a symbol of cross-border harmony. Opened in 2000, the ten mile crossing has a deep meaning for Denmark and Sweden. Until 1658 Skåne County was part of Denmark and in the years between 1521 and 1814 the two nations went to war 27 times. An architectural triumph, the bridge represents close cultural and economic ties between countries that once waged war but have now found a lasting peace.

The Facts:

Fans making a pilgrimage to Sweden’s southern capital to inspect scenes of crimes featured in the series will experience a metropolis more vibrant than its small screen counterpart. A cosmopolitan city undergoing expansion and renewal, previously an industrial district Malmö is now at the forefront of cutting-edge developments in design. An international centre for innovation and culture, Malmö ranked fourth in Forbes 2013 list of the world’s most innovative cities. This future-facing metropolis is home to a diverse populace, the city’s residents speak 176 languages.

Easily accessible via Copenhagen Airport. The average rail journey time between airport terminal and Malmö Central is 20 minutes.

Further Information

Scandinavian Airlines offer direct flights to Copenhagen from London Heathrow, Aberdeen, Birmingham and Manchester:

https://www.flysas.com/uk/flights/denmark/

For more information about Malmö:

http://www.visitsweden.com/sweden/Regions–Cities/Malmo/

Find information about The Bridge exhibition at Malmö Museer and tickets for The Bridge Tour here:

http://www.malmotown.com/en/?s=bridge#thebridge

Download your personal Bridge mini guide to Malmö here:

http://www.visitsweden.com/PageFiles/45269/VS_THEBRIDGETHREE_MINIGUIDE_PR.pdf

The Öresund Bridge: Photo © Janus Langhorn /imagebank.sweden.se

Bloody Scotland Blog Tour 2015: An Interview with Gunnar Staalesen

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One of Nordic Noir’s founding fathers speaks ahead of his appearance at Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival

Best known for a series of crime novels featuring the detective Varg Veum, Gunnar Staalesen made his literary début in 1969 with the novel Seasons of Innocence. One of the most successful crime authors currently working in Norway, he has sold over four million books in 24 countries. Orenda Books recently published We Shall Inherit the Wind and has scheduled two further Varg Veum novels for 2016 and 2017.

You’ve famously been described as the Norweigian Raymond Chandler. Do you mind the comparison? Would you rather be compared to a Nordic author?

No writer would mind the comparison with Shakespeare, I imagine, and Chandler is the Shakespeare of crime literature. To be compared to him is a great honour, but how fair it is, is not for me to judge… My private eye, Varg Veum, is certainly a Nordic relative of Philip Marlowe – and, I will add, Lew Archer of Ross Macdonald – so in a way I can understand the comparison. But the most important Norwegian writer through all times is the drama writer Henrik Ibsen, who wrote plays with the same feeling of plot as a detective writer, and I would not mind a comparison with him, either.

We Shall Inherit the Wind has been warmly reviewed. Orenda will be issuing the next instalments in the Varg Veum series (Where Roses Never Die, No One Is So Safe in Danger). How closely do you work with the translator?

I do not work closely with any of my translators, but Don Bartlett I know from several translations, and I know that he is very, very good. I get a mail from him from time to time if he has a question to ask – and it happens – but mostly he is on his own, and very safe there.

Which is your favourite book available in English and why?

I have to say The Consorts of Death, because it tells he life story of a young boy, later man, that ends up with a very tragic fate, and I think that is one of the most important stories I have told. But I am very happy for the many goods reviews of We Shall Inherit The Wind, and the reviews have given me a new look on that book, too. But the next one to be translated into English, Where Roses Never Die, is a favourite by many of my Norwegian readers, and I think that is one of my very best, too.

Which is your favourite book not available in English?

That must be Fallen Angels (Norwegian title: Falne Engler, French translation: Anges déchus), because it tells the story of a generation, the one that grew up after the Second World War, and the birth of rock and roll, and Varg Veum is confronted with his own childhood and youth in the search of the guilty person behind the crimes in the story.

Has it become easier for Norwegian authors to attract the interest of UK publishers?

Of course, the Nordic Noir wave and the success of Jo Nesbø and other Scandinavian writers have helped, but my first book was published in UK in 1986, so I was in some way one of the fore-runners.

Location is important in your writing. Would the Varg Veum novels have the same dramatic impact if they were set in another city?

Bergen is a perfect city for a noir writer, with its wet, rainy streets, the local fjord, the mountains surrounding the city … The Varg Veum novels would be quite different if they took place in Oslo or another Norwegian city, in short: they would never have been written.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am a playwright, too, and at the moment I am polishing a new drama, that I hope will be produced in a year or two. But I will start writing the 18th Varg Veum novel in a month or two, when I have developped the idea I have for the plot.

As a reader, what crime novel has had the most profound effect on you?

Well, the very first crime novel I read was The Hound of Baskervilles, and that was a great event in my reading life, but reading my first Raymond Chandler, which was The Little Sister, and the first of Sjøwall & Wahlöö, Roseanna, made an even stronger impact, I think. Chandler’s The Long Goodbye is still my favourite, though, and when it comes to plot-making: Ross Macdonald, several of his novels.

What’s been the most rewarding experience attending a crime fiction festival?

Meeting readers, meeting good collegues – it is always a pleasure to be part of a good crime fiction festival, and I am really looking forward to Bloody Scotland.

Thanks to Gunnar Staalesen and Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for making this interview possible.

For more information on Bloody Scotland please visit:

https://www.bloodyscotland.com/

We Shall Inherit the Wind by Gunnar Staalesen can be ordered from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shall-Inherit-Wind-Varg-Veum/dp/1910633070/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1439417758&sr=8-1&keywords=we+shall+inherit+the+wind

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DVD Review: The Spider

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A host of familiar faces star in an impressive post-war noir mystery series.

In 1949 Denmark was a traumatised nation unable to conceal the visible scars of a brutal occupation by Nazi forces that had killed over 3,000 people. Liberation ushered in an era of shortages and rationing. Struggling to rebuild its infrastructures, the fragile government appeared to be impotent when confronted with the black market economy.

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Left-leaning journalist Bjarne Maden (Jakob Cedergren) is an idealist eager to forge a career as a crime reporter. Unwavering in his belief in the press’ power to effect significant social change he covers stories which highlight cracks in the battered country’s system. Son of a noted union leader he uses the printed word to continue his father’s work standing up for the marginalised and persecuted. Championing social justice, Bjarne is striving to craft a new Denmark untainted by criminality.

A tip-off about organised crime leads the intrepid reporter on a trail which uncovers a web corruption that infects the upper stratums of society. Ignoring cautionary advice from the newspaper’s senior crime writer, Bjarne embarks on a self-appointed crusade to expose the toxic tendrils of lawlessness contaminating Copenhagen and bring the criminals to task.

Although the process of rebuilding Denmark is underway, the country remains divided along lines fought during the war. Bjarne’s brother Ole (Lars Mikkelsen) returns to Copenhagen. after several years in America. Enthused by time spent living in New York and flush with dollars he plans to open a jazz club. Ole’s reinvention is viewed with suspicion by those who are unable to forgive him for being a Nazi sympathiser during the occupation.

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First broadcast in 2000, The Spider is loosely based on the true story of journalists Anders B. Norgaard and Poul Dalgaard’s dogged attempts to expose a criminal network and highlight the police’s complicity in a black market economy built on smuggling, stolen goods, drugs, and prostitution.

Bjarne Henriksen is perfectly cast as an ice-cool racketeer who controls the crime syndicate with an iron glove. A Danish Al Capone type figure based on the real-life criminal Svend Aage Hasselstrøm who rose to prominence during World War Two and maintained a vice-like grip on Copenhagen’s underworld for eight years.

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An era of lawlessness and crushed hopes is meticulously recreated in a multi-layered and engrossing high-quality series that traces Denmark’s attempts to expunge the corruption which threatened to strangle the post-war administration.

Director Ole Christan Madsen’s affection for Film Noirs shines through in an exemplary production which doffs a fedora to classic crime films of the 1940s and ’50s. Cinematography, costuming, and set design work in tandem to create the sense of a time when gangsters held entire cities under their command.

Complex and engaging, The Spider is an arresting drama packed with an array of now well-known Scandinavian actors at the top of their game.

The Spider can be ordered from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Spider-DVD-Jacob-Cedergren/dp/B00URMMW1G/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1434382412&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=the+spider+lars+mikkeslsen