New DVDs: 'Blood of the Vine,' 'Arthur & George,' 'The Blacklist,' and more
Fans of the TV mystery have more choices than ever. We've been served well for decades by British TV producers with brilliant adaptations of works by Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and countless other authors.
Fans of the TV mystery have more choices than ever.
We've been served well for decades by British TV producers with brilliant adaptations of works by Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and countless other authors.
Then came the rest of Europe.
First there were the Italians, with such great shows as The Commissario Brunetti Mysteries and Inspector Montalbano. Then there was the Scandinavian invasion, with gorgeous long-form adaptations of Wallander, The Bridge, The Killing, and Stieg Larsson's Millennium series.
Now it's time for the French.
Though the gritty Paris-set cop show Spiral has amassed a good following, I can't think of anything more quintessentially Gallic than Blood of the Vine, a charming, clever, twisty murder mystery about a wine expert who solves murders in his spare time.
Could there be anything more French?
Adapted from the Winemaker Detective series written by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen, Blood of the Vine stars Pierre Arditi (Same Old Song, The Horseman on the Roof) as renowned French enologist and author Benjamin Lebel. A charismatic man entering his 50s, Lebel travels around the country, visiting vineyards and winemaking chateaus to evaluate each year's vintage and dispense advice on how best to improve the product.
He also happens to be a brilliant amateur detective who smells out murder, mayhem, and malfeasance wherever he goes.
Blood of the Vine, which costars Claire Nebout as a fellow enologist and Lebel's girlfriend, and Yoann Denaive and Catherine Demaiffe as his assistants, is filmed in some of the most gorgeous locations you can imagine.
Each feature-length episode has Lebel and his team evaluate wines and vineyards while solving complex murders. It's a delicious, meaty, irony-fueled treat best enjoyed with a good bottle of red.
Blood of the Vine: Season 3, containing four mysteries, is now available. (www.mhznetworks.org/; $39.95; not rated)
Other titles of note
Masterpiece: Arthur & George. Adapted from Julian Barnes' fact-based novel, this terrific three-part mystery stars Martin Clunes (Doc Martin) as Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who puts on the mantle of amateur detective to clear the name of a young half-Indian doctor framed for a series of heinous crimes. It's due Tuesday from PBS Video. (www.shoppbs.org/; $34.99; not rated)
Croupier. Clive Owen, Gina McKee, and Alex Kingston costar in this stylish and very sexy 1998 heist film from Mike Hodges (Get Carter), which has been restored for the first time in high-def. (www.henstoothvideo.com; $24.95 Blu-ray; not rated)
Extinction. The zombie apocalypse is upon us! Matthew Fox and Jeffrey Donovan star in director Miguel Ángel Vivas' grisly thriller as two men who have survived the zombie plague for nine years, only to discover the undead have mutated into a horrific new species. (www.sonypictures.com/movies/discanddigital/; $26.99; rated R)
The Red Road Season 2. Martin Henderson, Jason Momoa, and Julianne Nicholson return for the second and final season of SundanceTV's singular contemporary drama about the conflicts between a small, impoverished American Indian tribe and the inhabitants of the small working-class North Jersey town where they strive to make a living. It's due Sept. 22. (www.anchorbayentertainment.com/; $29.98; not rated)
The Blacklist Season 2. James Spader is devilishly sly and seductive in Jon Bokenkamp's espionage/crime thriller about a billionaire spy-turned-crook who helps an FBI task force bring down his enemies. (www.sonypictures.com/movies/discanddigital/; $65.99 DVD; $75.99 Blu-ray; not rated)