Murder thrillers from other cultures now on DVD

Essie Davis stars as Phryne Fisher in "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries." Fisher is a titled Australian woman of leisure and part-time detective.
Essie Davis stars as Phryne Fisher in "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries." Fisher is a titled Australian woman of leisure and part-time detective. (AcornOnline.com.)
Posted: April 20, 2013

Comedy doesn't always translate between cultures. But murder does. A growing body of police procedurals from around the globe is making its way onto DVD in America.

Australia is ably represented by two shows, one a period piece, the other a gritty contemporary thriller.

Based on the novels from Kerry Greenwood, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: Series 1 from Acorn Online ( http://acornonline.com/; $59.99 DVD or Blu-ray; not rated) stars Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher, a well-to-do, sexy woman of leisure in 1920s Melbourne who solves crimes for kicks. A cross between Lara Croft and Miss Marple, she sticks her nose into some of the most dangerous cases around.

East West 101: Season 1 stars Don Hany as an Arab Australian detective in Sydney who faces prejudice in the department and anger from the Arab community because he represents The Man. ( www.mhznetworks.org/; $39.95; not rated.)

We jump to Finland with Private Eye Vares, which stars Antti Reini as a witty, hard-drinking detective with an unshakable sense of justice who takes on the underworld in Helsinki. MHZ Networks has released two volumes each featuring three feature-length mysteries. ( www.mhznetworks.org/; $39.95 each; not rated.)

Other DVDs of note

Hit & Miss. This trippy four-and-a-half-hour mini-series set in England stars a formidable Chloe Sevigny ( Big Love) as Mia, a contract killer who also happens to be a male-to-female transsexual. Her life takes a radical turn when she finds out that back when she was a man, she fathered a now 11-year-old son with an ex-girfriend. The ex- has died, but not before naming Mia as her son's legal guardian. What's a killer with a heart of gold to do? ( www.bfsent.com/; $39.98; not rated.)

One Day on Earth. A stunning marvel from director Kyle Ruddick, this documentary was shot during a single 24-hour period by multiple camera operators following regular folks in every corner of the globe. Culled from more than 3,000 hours of footage, the film is a breathtaking glimpse of humanity. ( www.docurama.com/; $29.95; not rated.)

Naked Lunch. One of the most distinctive features from David Cronenberg ( Cosmopolis), this adaptation of William S. Burroughs' surreal, graphic novel stars Peter Weller as a drug addict who descends into a postmodern vision of the Inferno. It's been restored for a new Blu-ray edition by the Criterion Collection. ( www.criterion.com/; $39.95; rated R.)

The Song of Bernadette. Henry King's 1943 masterpiece stars the inimitable Jennifer Jones as Catholic heroine and saint Bernadette Soubirous, a girl from Lourdes, France, who had visions of the Virgin Mary in 1858. The film is part of a beautiful series of classics released on Blu-ray under the Twilight Time label. Other titles include King's 1959 F. Scott Fitzgerald biopic Beloved Infidel, featuring Gregory Peck and Deborah Kerr. ( www.screenarchives.com; $57.95 each; not rated.)

Curandero: Dawn of the Demon. Made on a micro-budget by Mexican-born writer-director Eduardo Rodriguez, this has to be one of the most effective, chilling horror films made about satanic cults, faith healing, and demonic magic. ( www.lionsgateshop.com/; $26.98; rated R.)

And don't forget . . .

Jeremy Irons as the pope in Showtime's Renaissance potboiler The Borgias: The Second Season. . . . Kelsey Grammer as the murderous mayor of Chicago in Starz's political thriller The Boss: Season Two. . . . Patrick Stewart as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard in the new Blu-ray edition of Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Three. . . . Scott Bakula as Capt. Jonathan Archer in Star Trek: Enterprise - Season One also on Blu-ray. . . . Martin Milner and Glen Corbett as restless souls traveling across the country in Route 66: The Complete Fourth Season.


Contact staff writer Tirdad Derakhshani at 215-854-2736 or tirdad@phillynews.com.

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