Topic series review: ‘DECEIT’- a story of a real-life honey trap brings the drama.

DECEIT Official Synopsis:

Five months on from the brutal murder of Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common and the Met Police are still no closer to capturing the man they’re convinced is responsible. First identified through a television appeal, the evidence is stacked against Colin Stagg. The media feed a national obsession, covering every detail of the case and demanding justice. The police are determined to catch the man who, in their eyes, is guilty before he kills again. In desperation, the relatively young detective inspector leading the case, engages the nation’s most famous criminal profiler to devise a bold undercover operation which will see an attractive, young female officer start a relationship with Colin Stagg.


As each episode begins, the filmmakers behind the miniseries DECEIT make it abundantly clear that the show involved a plethora of research. In 1992, a woman named Rachel Nickell was brutally murdered in front of her two-year-old son. Police believed they found the guilty party based on an expert forensic profiler. After bringing top undercover officer Sadie Byrne into the mix, they devise an elaborate operation to obtain a confession. 

The series’ four episodes appear to jump in time as Sadie studies Colin’s interrogation tapes. She draws him into her web first with letters, then phone calls. DECEIT’s intrigue is relentless. It’s a fresh perspective from the typical detective plotlines involving female officers. The danger feels heightened. 

Eddie Marsan plays profiler Paul Britton with an unsettling intensity. His scenes with Algar are tense. Sion Young is Colin Stagg. He is both frightening and pathetic, creating a skin-crawling effect. 

Niamh Algar is captivating as a fictionalized version of a real-life undercover officer. It’s like meta method acting, watching her prepare for a role within a role. The deeper she gets into the character of Lizzie, the further she spirals. Her anxiety and fear are palpable. It’s a hell of a performance. 

DECEIT’s lighting has a heavyhanded neo-noir effect, especially when Algar plays “Lizzie.” The editing keeps your mind sharp. The story draws you in, and the characters hold your emotional attention. I appreciated the updates on our players during the finale. Separating truth from fiction reminded me that innumerable lives were ruined. It’s a final nail in the reality coffin for the viewer. DECEIT is a unique entry amongst the true-crime fare.


The 4-part miniseries DECEIT, streaming exclusively on Topic beginning April 14.

Based on a true story, this UK crime thriller follows Lizzie James, a female detective employed to obtain evidence against Collin Stagg, the prime suspect in the brutal murder of Rachel Nickell, which occurred in broad daylight in London’s Wimbledon Common. The case went on to become one of the most infamous entrapment cases in British law enforcement history.

Directed by Niall MacCormick and starring Niamh Algar (Raised by Wolves, Topic’s The Virtues), Eddie Marsan (Deadpool 2, Ray Donovan), and Harry Treadaway (Star Trek: Picard, The Crown), DECEIT has been hailed in the UK, with The Telegraph calling it “a gripping portrait of a real-life undercover operation,” and The Evening Standard declaring that the series “stand[s] out from the usual true crime fare.”


About TOPIC
Topic is the boundary-pushing streaming service from First Look Entertainment for thrillers, mysteries, dramas and documentaries from around the world, serving viewers who crave entertainment beyond the mainstream. Whether it’s a Nordic-noir crime thriller (The Killing), an Italian supernatural political drama (The Miracle), or a haunting true crime docu-series from the UK (The Missing Children), Topic expands your view of the world.

Featuring North American premieres, exclusive TV series and film, and programming from more than 40 countries, Topic showcases an unparalleled collection of creators, perspectives and experiences. Complemented by our Topic Originals, we prioritize bold storytelling and champion underrepresented voices. Topic Originals and exclusives include Oscar® nominee The Letter Room (starring Oscar Isaac), Lambs of God (starring Ann Dowd), BAFTA® nominee The Virtues (starring Stephen Graham), Emmy® nominee The Accidental Wolf (starring Kelli O’Hara), Dark Woods, Gotham Award winning Philly D.A., and Soul City (directed by Coodie & Chike).

Topic is available to US and Canadian audiences on topic.com, AppleTV & iOS, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android & Android TV, Samsung, Apple TV Channels, Roku Premium Channels, Bell Fibe, Amazon Prime Video Channels, and Comcast (Xfinity X1, Xfinity Flex and XClass TV). Topic is part of First Look Entertainment which also includes Topic Studios, the award-winning entertainment studio which develops, finances, and produces content for all platforms.


Netflix documentary series review: ‘BAD VEGAN: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.’ is the weirdest con job you’ll ever see. Streaming today!


Presents

Bad Vegan: 

Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.
From Chris Smith, the executive producer of Tiger King and director of Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened, comes BAD VEGAN: FAME. FRAUD. FUGITIVES., a wild four-part documentary series that explores how Sarma Melngailis, the celebrity restaurateur behind the glittering New York hotspot Pure Food and Wine, went from being the queen of vegan cuisine to being known as the “Vegan Fugitive.” Shortly after meeting a man named Shane Fox on Twitter in 2011, Melngailis begins draining her restaurant’s funds and funneling the money to Fox after he cons her into believing he could make her dreams — from expanding her food empire to making her beloved pitbull immortal — a reality…but only if she continues to obey his every request without question. A few years later the couple, now married and on the lam after stealing nearly $2 million from the restaurant and its staff, are found holed up in a Tennessee motel by law enforcement. Their undoing? A charge made under Fox’s real name, Anthony Strangis, for a Domino’s pizza. BAD VEGAN: FAME. FRAUD. FUGITIVES. takes viewers on a journey more bizarre than fiction.


On the heels of The Tinder Swindler and Inventing Anna, watching individuals fall under the spell of another human being is fascinating. The overlooked red flags are easy for me to spot as I watch from my couch at home. We’ve watched some crazy stories over the years, but nothing like Netflix’s documentary series, BAD VEGAN. Sarma Melngailis gets into hot water when a conman steals not only her heart but her employees’ money. But, is it that cut and dry? Witnessing this twisted plot unfold, I have serious reservations about the genuine involvement of Sarma in her own undoing. Desperate for funds, her entanglement and secretive marriage to Anthony Strangis leads to massive fraud, lies, and some of the strangest behavior from a smart and successful woman I’ve ever heard of.

The doc has unprecedented footage, some of which looks like it came from Strangis’ cell phone. Sarma’s moments of pushback while on the run show a clear head through her tears and anger. I’m not sure I believe her version. Through sit-down interviews with her former staff, restaurant associates, lawyer, and even her father, I don’t think they know what the real truth is, either. Along with phone calls between Sarma and Anthony, the series spans the rise and fall of this sophisticated businesswoman. The promises and threats she endured are, quite literally, unbelievable. When do we ask Sarma to take responsibility for her part in this apparent lunacy? The book deals and tv appearance feel inevitable if we’ve learned anything from Anna Sorokin (who is being deported back to Germany as of this week). Part of me wants Sarma to rise from the ashes, and yet there is this nagging feeling that she doesn’t deserve it. The series covers a lot, but I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one that has reservations *no pun intended* when it comes to Sarma Melngailis.

BAD VEGAN is now streaming on Netflix. We’re very eager to hear your thoughts as you watch.

Premieres on Netflix this Wednesday, March 16th, 2022

From Director and Executive Producer Chris Smith (Tiger King,
Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened)
Executive Producers: Chris SmithRyann FraserMark Emms


Review: ‘Alice is Still Dead’ Grapples with the Limits of Justice

In an intimate and unflinching account dealing with grief, ‘Alice is Still Dead’ tells the story of a murdered loved one from the victim’s family perspective. From the detective’s notification to her family to facing the killer in court, we see the pain, anger, and heartbreak a family must endure while the nightmare is investigated.


In most true crime stories, the mystery of “what really happened” carries the narrative. Viewers are invited to reconstruct timelines and decipher motives, then try and solve the crime simultaneously with the professional investigators. Alice is Still Dead turns that formula on its head. For instance, what if there is a brutal murder, but the facts– while devastating– are relatively straightforward? What if the central protagonist is tragically incidental to the killer’s motive? What if the police and justice system function exactly as society intends them to do? This film illustrates that even without the standard narrative hooks of true crime, a shocking senseless death is still a story. There is still a family that must find a way to carry on despite their grief and try to find contentment with the limits of justice.  

 This documentary is a fascinating portrait of a family grappling with the shock and aftermath of the death of Alice Stevens, a young woman murdered in Thunderbolt, Georgia, in 2013. Through touching interviews with those that knew Alice best, Director Edwin P. Stevens (Alice’s older brother) tells the story of a murder from the perspective of the victim’s family. In this tribute, the filmmaker ultimately asks how and if it’s possible to move forward after such a traumatic event.

 Important viewing for true crime fans, this film explores angles that many projects in the genre leave unaddressed.


Alice is Still Dead will be available on Digital and VOD globally beginning November 5 from Global Digital Releasing.


Written by Meredith Mantik, Joe Raffa, and Edwin P. Stevens. Produced by Cory Pyke, Joe Raffa, and Edwin P. Stevens. Executive Produced by Edwin and Cecilia Stevens.


 

HBO’s four-part Original docuseries review: ‘Murder on Middle Beach’ episode one airs tonight.

HBO Documentary Films’ MURDER ON MIDDLE BEACH, a four-part documentary series directed by first-time filmmaker Madison Hamburg, presents Hamburg’s complicated journey as a young man determined to solve an unspeakable crime and absolve the people he loves, while looking for answers within his fractured family and community.

 

On March 3, 2010, single mother Barbara Hamburg was found violently murdered near her home in the upper-middle-class enclave of Madison, Connecticut. Investigators speculated her murder appeared to be a crime of passion, but without enough evidence, the case grew cold.

Over the course of 8 years, Barbara’s son, Madison Hamburg, interviewed his family members and many others, longing to learn more about his mother and gathering evidence in hopes of solving her murder, sending him into a deep web of buried familial secrets, connections to shadowy criminal figures, and the uncovering of years-old resentments in his deceptively serene hometown. While Madison wrestles with troubling revelations about his mother, the most unsettling conflict comes from Madison’s obligation to bring into question those inside his community and members of his own family.

Madison Hamburg wants to know what happened to his mother in 2010. Growing up in an affluent Connecticut town myself, I found it shocking that I had not heard about this case. Who would want to kill a stay at home mother? What are the motives for such a brutal act? The theories seem straight forward until you’re steered down another road due to lack of evidence. The things that went wrong in this initial investigation will frustrate you to no end. You have to give Madison credit for having the courage and, for lack of a more eloquent way of putting it, balls for putting his entire childhood and now adulthood on the line to solve this mystery and deal with his trauma.

Creative editing places you inside the family dynamic of the Hamburgs. Not just Madison’s odd relationship with his estranged father, but his aunt’s and uncles, grandparents, and his sister Barbara, the 4th of that namesake on his mother’s side. Madison uses home videos and still photography to invite you into the years he had with his Mom. Some of the most unique moments come in the form of vintage voiceovers from what seems like those creepy 1950s classroom movies. It is eerily effective. Intimate sit-down interviews play the largest part as the mystery grows. There are constant hints of family secrets but we only get a tease in the final moments of episode one. You’re so invested in this story, it’s frightening. There is no doubt Madison Hamburg wants the truth. I know I’ll be watching the final 3 episodes on HBO to find out if he gets it. Murder on Middle Beach will air episode 1 tonight at 10:00-11:00pm ET/PT.

Stream on HBO Max: http://itsh.bo/hbo-max

MURDER ON MIDDLE BEACH debuts on November 15 on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max.

Review: ‘American Murder: The Family Next Door’

SYNOPSIS:

In 2018, 34-year-old Shanann Watts and her two young daughters went missing in Frederick, Colorado. As heartbreaking details emerged, their story made headlines worldwide.  Told entirely through archival footage that includes social media posts, law enforcement recordings, text messages and never-before-seen home videos, director Jenny Popplewell pieces together an immersive and truthful examination of a police investigation and a disintegrating marriage. AMERICAN MURDER: THE FAMILY NEXT DOOR is the first film to give a voice to the victims.

I am a huge fan of true crime. Whenever I can’t find something I want to watch on television, I’ll immediately turn to one of the numerous 24hr true crime oriented stations and leave it on in the background. My husband and I always joke when an episode begins, “The husband did it.” We laugh because it’s cliche but usually true. Netflix’s new documentary from director Jenny Popplewell is a different approach to this kind of investigation on film. This carefully crafted doc has an intimacy that feels invasive. That is entirely the point. Through eerie bodycam footage, you’re in the room experiencing what officers, friends, and family did as the truth is slowly revealed. The audience feels like they are living this tragedy in realtime.

We are privy to  Shanann’s text messages that lead up to these horrific events. We see videos she shared with her followers on social media.  Little by little, we see the deterioration of a relationship. Rather than the stale, faceless narration that usually accompanies the genre, we are hearing directly from Shanann as she confronts her own faults, questions her choices, and gets real with her husband Chris, and her closest friends. It is one of the most brutally honest docs I’ve seen. Oftentimes cringeworthy. You’ll think to yourself, “I shouldn’t be reading these messages,” but they are essential pieces of the puzzle.

Once the truth came to light, I was weeping. As a mother of two young children, the same ages as Bella and Cece, I could not wrap my brain around these atrocities. I cannot seem to shake this film. It is a visceral sadness. Fair warning to any viewer with children of their own. This will tap into something primal. The most successful aspect of this film is that it focuses solely on Shanann and the girls. No traditional sitdown interviews with anyone, with the exception of video footage of Chris and the police while he is interrogated. There are zero crime photos or autopsy reports. It is the most humanizing true crime doc out there. Netflix and Popplewell have given genre fans a new form of storytelling and a voice to the victims.

AMERICAN MURDER: THE FAMILY NEXT DOOR will be released globally on Netflix on September 30.

DOC NYC review: ‘A Murder in Mansfield’ is an emotional gut punch.

A MURDER IN MANSFIELD

WORLD PREMIERE Filmmaker Barbara Kopple explores the legacy of the 1989 murder of Noreen Boyle in Mansfield, Ohio. Her 12-year-old son Collier gave a devastating videotaped testimony blaming his father for the murder. Now, over two decades later, Collier returns to Ohio seeking to retrace his past and confront his imprisoned father, who remains in denial of his guilt. Collier’s depth of character is a wonder to behold from childhood to adulthood. Out of this tragic story, we witness the power of human resilience.
Collier Landry brings us on a journey no child should ever have to go on. 27 years after a horrific crime by the hands of his own father, we learn that Landry had the foresight to keep all the correspondence between the two, adding to the real life, emotionally manipulative drama that endured. This doc has some of the most graphic details shown to an audience as we are privy to the actual crime scene photos alongside Collier. While he attempts to come to terms with the truth about his father, he also explores the greater effect that violence leaves on a community. Through interviews with friends and family, the hold this event still has on so many is more than evident. Landry not only had his mother stolen from his life, not only his innocence, but an adoptive sister. As a viewer, I mourned right along with him at every turn. His determination is contagious and brave. Director Barbara Kopple yet again delves into the lives of people making waves, big and small. A Murder in Mansfield displays a sorrow and engages the detective we all have buried inside. It is both an honest portrait of grieving and a peak inside the chilling mind of a murderer.
Criminal defense lawyers sometime get a not-so-flattering portrayal because people assume that they defend guilty people. However, if you are a defendant in a criminal proceeding, you need the assistance of a qualified criminal defense lawyer, regardless of your guilt or innocence. As the protectors and advocates of the accused, defense lawyers play a pivotal role in the United States justice system to see that everyone charged with a criminal act has an opportunity to defend themselves.

 

Choosing and employing a criminal defense lawyer early on in any case is the best way to increase one’s probability of success in any criminal trial. Many of the more prominent people in society already have a battery of lawyers at their behest that spring into action whenever any legal problem arises. Click here if you want to find out more about deportation defense attorney.

You may not be one of these high profile people, and you may not have employed an attorney as of yet because a) you do not really have a need for them yet or b) they are, of course, too expensive to just have on hand. But even given this you will have to keep in mind that in the case of an impending criminal trial, choosing and hiring a good lawyer early on is your top priority.

In fact, even this top Tampa criminal defense lawyer believes that the outcome of your entire case may even hinge on whether this single matter alone. If you hire a lawyer early on, there is a chance that, due to his or her timely actions, there will be no need for any case and trial at all. You might just be able to dodge the bullet on time.

Your choice of lawyer can also affect the amount and quality of evidence that is allowable by law to police and investigators. This alone is reason enough to hire good lawyers with good grasp of such kinds of investigation practice. If you have been watching enough trial TV, you will notice that many trials drag on endlessly only to argue whether an evidence is acceptable in the court of law.

Look at the lawyer’s background. Does he or she have specialization in criminal defense? Just because on is an attorney does not mean that he or she automatically qualifies as a good criminal defense lawyer.

Lawyers are a lot like doctors. And the legal field is pretty much similar to the medical field. There is a host of specializations and fortes making having one lawyer adept at all close to impossible. And in the same wise that you wouldn’t trust a brain operation on a dermatologist, you should stick to a defense crime lawyer when you need such representation in cases.

Also look at past case performance to see if the lawyer is fit to represent you fully in your case. If the lawyer has had experience in cases similar to yours, and has been able to perform well and respectably, then that would be a good thing to look out for.

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MansfieldDocumentary/
Director: Barbara Kopple
Producer: Barbara Kopple, David Cassidy, Ray Nowosielski
Cinematographer: Gary Griffin, Tony Hardmon
Editor: Rob Kuhns
Running Time: 88
Language: English
Country: USA
Year: 2017

53 Random Prison Movies – This Week on The Reel Big Show

The-Reel-Big-Show

Whether they are funny, dramatic or full of action (or a combination of both), movies with prison are plenty. This week Michael leads the discussion with Liz and Melissa.

Read More →

Last Chance: 57 Movies Expiring from HBO GO Tomorrow 3.15.15 – ‘Mystery Men’ ‘Non-Stop’ ‘What Lies Beneath’

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Tomorrow is the twice-monthly reset of movies, so you’ve got today and tomorrow to catch these before they disappear!

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HBO GO Expiring – 3/15/15: Here Are 5 To Catch Before It’s Too Late

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This is your last chance to catch before they’re out of rotation.

  1. 12 Years A Slave
  2. Dallas Buyers Club
  3. Full Metal Jacket
  4. Mystery Men
  5. What Lies Beneath

Here’s the list of 57 movies that are leaving HBO GO on the 15th of this month! Here’s the list that were added on the 1st. Read More →