Month: March 2020

“Valhalla Murders”—The House of the Dead

Kudos to Netflix for another great Nordic noir production. In this eight-episode series, Netflix’s first Icelandic co-production, we have a crime thriller about a gruesome serial killer whose murders go back over thirty-five years.  Valhalla Murders is actually based upon a series of murders that took place in Reykjavik.  There is some uneven pacing, but it is over shadowed by the unexpected twists and turns of this Nordic murder mystery. In the opening scene the main character, Detective Kata, is severely wounded and on the verge of death.  Immediately Valhalla Murders flashes...

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The Stranger–or Estranged

Another series to binge during this C-virus pandemic is Netflix’s The Stranger.  Produced by Harlan Coben and based on his novel of the same name, this newly released British series opens with a teenage drug fest complete with bonfire and more than a few hints of mayhem.   Part mystery, but most of all, family drama especially between fathers and their children, The Stranger quickly turns seemingly content lives into ones festering with secrets. Adam Price (Richard Armitage), one of several main and deeply flawed characters, is approached by a beautiful stranger  (Hannah...

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“Earthquake Bird”—An Unpredictable Flight

Based on the titular novel by Susanna Jones,  Earthquake Bird was released in November 2019.  A psychological thriller with film noir features reminding this viewer of Alfred Hitchcock,   Earthquake Bird is all about guilt and the insidious nature and burden of carrying it.  More slow-paced with a scene or two reminiscent of Memento, this film captures the day-to-day life of guilt and jealousy, pulling back the curtain on what damage and unpredictability can do. In 1989 an American woman is discovered dismembered in Tokyo.  Lucy Fly (Alicia Vikander), a Swedish...

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“Mr. Sunshine” (2018): Jane Austen meets Downton Abbey

Viewers are treated, in this 24-episode series, Mr. Sunshine,  to a glimpse of  Korean history that few outside of Korea will be familiar with .   Screenwriting legend, Kim Eun Sook, has created an  intricate historical romance set in 1871, when a US military ship docked in Korea, wishes to expand into Asia for the exploitation of natural resources and land.  We first are introduced to Mr. Sunshine , Eugene Choi (Lee Byung-hun), as a nine-year old Korean boy born into a family of slaves.   In a dramatic turn of events, the little boy runs away with an American missionary  to New York...

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The White Ribbon [Das Weisse Band]

            [Guest reviewer  Barbara Artson, author of the novel Odessa, Odessa ] Director Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon (2009) opens in total darkness. We see nothing but hear only the elderly voice of a narrator:   “I don’t know if the story that I want to tell you is entirely true. Some of it I only know by hearsay, and after so many years it remains obscure today, and I must leave it in darkness.” And so the schoolteacher narrator, now an old man, begins his rendering in a series of flashbacks, depicting the mystifying and horrific happenings that...

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