Madeleine Potter

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The White Countess Review


Very Good
Audiences can expect one thing from the filmmaking team of Ismail Merchant and James Ivory: a Merchant Ivory film isn't meant to be watched, like other movies; it's meant to be visited, like a museum. While the results are sometimes dazzling and rich, and at others times stuffy and inert, the Merchant Ivory approach is nonetheless consistent. Each of their scripts lies somewhere between screenplay and novel. The attention they pay to period detail is lavish. And a Merchant Ivory cast typically reads like a roster of the world's leading thespians. Their most recent effort, The White Countess, is no different.

In it, all the Merchant Ivory hallmarks are present. The stalwart cast is led by Ralph Fiennes and a trio of Redgraves: Vanessa Redgrave, Lynn Redgrave, and Natasha Richardson, Vanessa Redgrave's daughter. The setting -- Shanghai in the period leading up to the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945 -- is lush and meticulously rendered. And the script, loosely adapted from Junichiro Tanizaki's novel The Diary of a Mad Old Man, was penned by acclaimed writer Kazuo Ishiguro.

Continue reading: The White Countess Review

The White Countess Review


Very Good
Audiences can expect one thing from the filmmaking team of Ismail Merchant and James Ivory: a Merchant Ivory film isn't meant to be watched, like other movies; it's meant to be visited, like a museum. While the results are sometimes dazzling and rich, and at others times stuffy and inert, the Merchant Ivory approach is nonetheless consistent. Each of their scripts lies somewhere between screenplay and novel. The attention they pay to period detail is lavish. And a Merchant Ivory cast typically reads like a roster of the world's leading thespians. Their most recent effort, The White Countess, is no different.

In it, all the Merchant Ivory hallmarks are present. The stalwart cast is led by Ralph Fiennes and a trio of Redgraves: Vanessa Redgrave, Lynn Redgrave, and Natasha Richardson, Vanessa Redgrave's daughter. The setting -- Shanghai in the period leading up to the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945 -- is lush and meticulously rendered. And the script, loosely adapted from Junichiro Tanizaki's novel The Diary of a Mad Old Man, was penned by acclaimed writer Kazuo Ishiguro.

Continue reading: The White Countess Review

The Golden Bowl Review


Very Good

Producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory's names have become synonymous with refined and flowery literary drawing room dramas because of their innate ability to instill such period pieces with unfettered emotions and tangible performances that transcend the corseted, courtly trappings of the genre.

You usually know what you're getting into when you see one of their pictures -- passionate romances hindered by 19th Century social mores. But that doesn't mean there aren't surprises, and in their Henry James adaptation "The Golden Bowl," the biggest surprise is Uma Thurman.

An actress known for playing most roles with an exaggerated sense of erudition whether the part calls for it or not, in this film she's entirely natural and complexly human as Charlotte Stant, a beautiful young American expatriate whose heart is thrown into turmoil by a complicated romantic roundelay.

Continue reading: The Golden Bowl Review

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Madeleine Potter Movies

The Golden Bowl Movie Review

The Golden Bowl Movie Review

Producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory's names have become synonymous with refined and flowery...

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