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International Bon Vivant and Raconteur

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March 1st, 2010

Detective Wallander: Before the Frost [Mar. 1st, 2010|10:56 am]
International Bon Vivant and Raconteur
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Friday night I found myself, rather remarkably given the snowicane that was terrorizing New York City, at Scandinavia House on 38th Street in Manhattan. Billed as the Nordic Center in America, the best thing about Scandinavia House, in my opinion as a non-Scandinavian, is the cozy movie theater in the basement, where my girlfriend, her aunt and I watched Before the Frost (Innan Frosten), the first in a series of original Detective Wallander movies made for Swedish TV.

I've never read Henning Mankell's internationally bestselling series of Detective Wallander police procedurals, but my girlfriend is a big fan, and if they're anything like Before the Frost I can see why.

Krister Henriksson plays Detective Kurt Wallander, a rumpled, middle-aged police inspector in the small seaside town of Ystad, Sweden, who's trying to deal with his divorce, his impetuous daughter Linda (Johanna Sällström) who has also joined the police force, and the seemingly never-ending cast of crazies who haunt the town through these thirteen TV movies, most of which is based on an original Mankell story, I'm told, rather than adaptations of the novels (though Before the Frost is actually based on one of the novels). The cast and writing are superb in Before the Frost, which deals with a series of crimes committed by a murderous cult of religious fanatics. It's not a mystery so much as a procedural--we know who did it and we slowly learn why, but the joy comes in watching Wallander and his team figure it out, much like those old Columbo episodes.

This one--and I suspect the others as well--will be well worth seeking out if and when they eventually make it to a Region 1 DVD release. In the meantime, though, Scandinavia House is showing the whole Wallander series, with one film shown each Friday night between now and May. It's unlikely we'll see them all--giving up every Friday night between now and May would be overkill--but we're going to try to catch a few more of them when we can.
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