Crime Month: Down Those Mean Streams

Nordic noir and other criminal pleasures worth streaming

History repeats itself, and storytelling trends go in cycles. Three-quarters of a century ago, as demagogues fueled hatred of immigrants, Americans sought distraction from pulp magazines. Today, racist agitators are having a field day, and streaming services are providing so much crime fiction, viewers have trouble keeping track of it all.

Trapped

A few favorites at the Sublett house come to mind. The Nordic noir wave has hit us hard. I can’t say how many times we watched Wallander (the Swedish miniseries on Netflix and the British version with Kenneth Branagh on Amazon), but it might help to know that I’ve got the Wallander ringtone on my iPhone.

Some of our favorites hail from the smallest country, Iceland. Trapped (Netflix) seized our attention immediately with its super forbidding location: a tiny port town where nature always has the last laugh. The landscape is vast, towering, and other-worldly, and there’s something really screwy going on – either a frozen prehistoric monster coming back to life or human beings at their most venal. Directed by Icelandic superstar director Baltasar Kormaku (Everest), Season 1 starred the very bearlike Olafur Darri Olafsson as the police chief who endures more trouble per capita than his counterpart in Los Angeles, but almost never loses his cool. We are overjoyed that Season 2, with all surviving cast members, is slated for this fall.

Another Icelandic favorite is Lava Field (Netflix), which stars Trapped cast member Björn Hlynur Haraldsson as the detective in a different bleak, strangely beautiful outpost, where the bloody murder of a despicable tycoon is made to look like suicide, but isn’t, and as usual, the detective’s own spectral past hovers over everything, like a vengeful demon.

We were overjoyed that Season 3 of The Tunnel (PBS) dropped, with its setting on the international tunnel crossing between Britain and France, all those sweeping vistas of the Normandy coastline and the angrily churning waters of the English Channel, macabre international crime plots, and the oddest and most compelling of all odd couples in the streaming world, British detective Karl Roebuck (Stephen Dillane) and his French counterpart, Elise Wassermann (Clémence Poésy). If there’s a Season 4, these two will have to finally hook up.

Will there be a fourth season of Witnesses (Netflix)? We sure hope so. Detective Sandra Winckler (Marie Dompnier), polices a small village on the coast of northern France, is haunted, a little twitchy, and totally badass – plus, her cases are so macabre, they’re practically Scandinavian! In January, Dompnier announced that Season 4 is likely going to happen.

We loved Season 1 of Goliath (Amazon), Billy Bob Thornton’s turn as a jaded, disillusioned lawyer living in a cheap motel in Santa Monica, finally deciding to do the heroic thing. The show has a great cast, dialogue, music, and cinematography. Season 2 was good for a couple of episodes, but after that I watched with one eye and read a book.

Other favorites recently streamed on Netflix: • Very Secret ServiceRiverSecret CityBorderlinerCollateralBabylon Berlin (cameo by Bryan Ferry!) • Evil GeniusCase

Elsewhere, we enjoyed the Angels Flight metaphors in the latest Bosch series (Amazon), and we just started Sharp Objects (HBO), and all I can say at this point is Amy Adams’ character drinks way too much and Patricia Clarkson, as her mom, is a Southern Gothic hoot.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More July Is Crime Month
Review: <i>The Annotated Big Sleep</i>
Review: The Annotated Big Sleep
Everything you need to know about Raymond Chandler's classic

Jesse Sublett, July 27, 2018

Review: <i>The Big Book of the Continental Op</i>
Review: The Big Book of the Continental Op
All of the Dashiel Hammett PI's cases in one energetic volume

Jesse Sublett, July 27, 2018

More by Jesse Sublett
Legerdemain Man Ray Anderson
Legerdemain Man Ray Anderson
The fact that magicians around the world revere the magic man of Esther's Follies is no illusion

Nov. 30, 2018

Review: <i>Berlin</i>
Review: Berlin
At last complete, Jason Lutes' graphic novel is a masterpiece

Oct. 26, 2018

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

July Is Crime Month, Crime Month 2018, Wallander, Trapped, Witnesses, Lava Field, The Tunnel, Goliath, Sharp Objects

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle