Tag: Wallander

Let’s Have a Ball Down at the Globes (TV Edition)

The announcements have been made, and the nominations for the 67th Golden Globe Awards are now officially a matter of public record, but just in case you haven’t caught them elsewhere (which, to be fair, is highly possible), here’s my look at the TV series, mini-series, and movies which received nods, along with my personal picks for who should take home the win for each category.

Best Television Series – Drama

• Big Love (HBO)
• Dexter (Showtime)
• House (Fox)
• Mad Men (AMC)
• True Blood (HBO)

My pick: “Mad Men.” Regular readers of Premium Hollywood had probably already narrowed my pick down to two entries, anyway, since I’m the designated blogger for both “True Blood” and “Mad Men,” but while “True Blood” had a strong season that was tarnished slightly by an unsatisfying finale, “Mad Men” offered up a full-fledged game-changer for the conclusion of their third year. The most notable omission from this list, however, is “Sons of Anarchy,” which you could almost write off as being too harsh for the voters if you didn’t have a drama about a serial killer in the mix.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama

• Glenn Close, “Damages” (FX)
• January Jones, “Mad Men” (AMC)
• Julianna Marguiles, “The Good Wife” (CBS)
• Anna Paquin, “True Blood” (HBO)
• Kyra Sedgwick, “The Closer” (TNT)

My pick: Julianna Marguiles. I know full well that it’s a dark horse pick that almost certainly won’t pay off, but “The Good Wife” has been my favorite drama of the new season, and Marguiles offers a multi-layered performance as Alicia Florrick, a woman having to struggle with the media shining the spotlight on her husband’s infidelity and political and legal misdealings while she’s trying to return to a career as a litigator. And am I the only one who scoffed somewhat at January Jones’ nomination? Of the three primary “Mad Men” actresses, she’s the last I would’ve nominated, and this is one case where I think most would agree with me.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama

• Simon Baker, “The Mentalist” (CBS)
• Michael C. Hall, “Dexter” (Showtime)
• Jon Hamm, “Mad Men” (AMC)
• Hugh Laurie, “House” (Fox)
• Bill Paxton, “Big Love” (HBO)

My pick: Hugh Laurie, “House.” God love Jon Hamm, but I said of the “House” season premiere back in September that it was “strong enough to warrant giving Hugh Laurie an Emmy nomination no matter what else he may do on the show during the course of the season’s subsequent episodes,” and I stand by that.

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There are two bold strokes with which “Wallander,” a BBC produced crime series, is painted that set it apart from most other TV fare. The first is its intoxicating, borderline hallucinatory photography, which will grab your attention in the opening frames. A girl pushes her way through a golden field of crops carrying a plastic container of liquid. A car, driven by Kurt Wallander (Kenneth Branagh), speeds down the highway toward a farm. He pulls up and the farmer points to the field. “She’s out there.” He hands Wallander a pair of binoculars. “You see her?” Wallander makes his way through the dense field of yellow. The closer he gets, the more frightened the girl becomes. When he’s but a few feet from her, she opens the container and douses herself with gasoline, sets herself on fire, and explodes in a ball of flame. Wallander’s jaw hits the ground. He cannot believe what he’s just witnessed. Later on, when one of his fellow detectives suggests moving on from the suicide, since there’s no real crime involved, Wallander himself explodes, “A 15-year-old girl sets herself on fire and you don’t think it’s a crime!?” It’s something of an uncharacteristic moment for the normally subdued man, who keeps his emotions bottled up inside. Indeed, the only time his feathers ever seem to ruffle is in matters of pursuing justice.

But back to the photography. The entire opening sequence is bold and filmic, as is much of “Wallander.” The series is shot with the Red One, a digital camera with a sensor that, according to Wikipedia, “has about the same active area as a 35mm film frame masked to the 16:9 aspect ratio, allowing the same depth of field to be produced in conjunction with lenses designed for 35mm film.” In other words, this camera manages to make some damn pretty pictures – stuff you wouldn’t expect to see in a BBC produced show. It’s possible that at times the cinematographers even go a little overboard, but they probably had so much fun experimenting with the camera they should be forgiven such indulgences.

The second item of note is the fact that the show is in English. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if not for the fact that the show is set and filmed in Sweden, all of the characters are Swedish, and most noticeably, anytime any written language is shown, such as newspapers or e-mails, the words are in Swedish. But everyone in the series speaks English, and with a British accent no less. This took some time to get used to, but after a while the viewer is forced to submit to the gimmick, and it manages to somehow seem a mildly brilliant construct on the part of the producers. I kept thinking back to the early scene in “The Hunt for Red October” where all the Russians were speaking Russian until the picture subtly shifts and they all speak English; “Wallander” simply doesn’t have the shift. It’s a brave leap of faith that could easily have been avoided by tweaking the tales a bit, and simply setting them in England. Clearly the people involved in the making of this series have enormous respect for the source material, a series of hugely popular books by Henning Mankell, the “master of Swedish crime fiction” who, it turns out, is married to Ingmar Bergman’s daughter.

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TCA Tour, Jan. 2009: “Masterpiece Mystery!: Wallander”

The last time Kenneth Branagh turned up at a TCA event, he was promoting HBO’s “As You Like It,” a project that he directed and for which he provided the script adaptation from the original Shakespeare play. This time, however, he’s in front of the camera, starring as the titular character in “Wallander,” the “Masterpiece Mystery!” production based on Henning Mankell’s novels about Swedish police inspector Kurt Wallander.

There have been plenty of “Wallander” films made in Sweden, but this is the first time the books have received an adaptation for an English-language audience, and given how many Wallander adventures there are (eight novels, several short stories), this has the potential to be a lengthy gig for Branagh.

But does he want such a gig?

“I’d certainly be very, very happy to make some more of them,” he said. “I get rather superstitious about assuming the audiences may want to watch it for years to come. I think that when we approached it, we were very aware of how many excellent detective stories there have been on television and that we had to really earn our right to be there. There are another seven books that could potentially be adapted. And I think we would very much like to and are very much looking forward to planning another three. But when we all met as a creative team just before Christmas and had a chance to sort of debrief after the screening of the three films in the UK, I think we were very thrilled with the reaction, which had been very positive, and very excited about that, but we did feel there was an enormous amount of work still do, excitingly to do, in terms of developing the character. So I think we’ll just…if we’re lucky and, as my mother would say, if God spares us, we’ll take the next three, if we can, and do them and hopefully learn from some of the things that we wanted to develop on this time. Whether that then develops into years to come remains to be seen.”

Branagh’s “Wallander” co-star, Tom Hiddleston (who plays Martinsson), showed his age when discussing how the two had worked together briefly in the 2001 TV production, “Conspiracy.”

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