White Countess
feels like an ill-conceived remake of Casablanca, with Ralph Fiennes as a blind Bogie and a Chinese harlequin in place of a solitary piano man. His 'Rick's' is a little club tucked into the political district of mid-1930s Shanghai, which is flexing for the onslaught from Imperial Japan. Fiennes' character is Todd Jackson - a big step down from Laszlo de Almasy in the name department - and he has a funny idea about imbuing his little club with just the right mixture of "political tension" to pump up its reputation. He wants to invite Mao shirts and Kuomintang in for cocktails and let them eyeball each other across the bar the same way that a club owner on the Sunset Strip might finagle to get Lindsay Lohan and whoever she's feuding with in the same place at the same time, with a gossip page scribbler planted nearby in case the sparks fly.

categories Cinematical