Monday, January 23, 2006

Beware of Big Brother

I wonder if someone at the New York Times reads my blog because the newspaper I didn't get yesterday was delivered to my door this morning.

I haven't read it all, but I've already found one article I'm glad I didn't miss -- the restaurant and bar McHale's, at the corner of 46th and 8th since 1953, closed yesterday. A victim of the improved conditions in Times Square, this long-time dive bar is going condo. I ate there once, and every time I walked by I thought to myself, "I need to go back there." Oh, well.

Tonight I saw a very well-crafted Merchant Ivory film, "The White Countess," starring Ralph Fiennes and Natasha Richardson. The film also features Natasha's mother Vanessa Redgrave and her aunt, Lynn Redgrave.

Set in the late 30s, Fiennes plays a blind former American diplomat determined to open the perfect bar in Shanghai. Richardson plays a Russian countess chased out by the Russian Revolution and facing hard times in Shanghai.

Fiennes creates his perfect bar with Richardson as his "centerpiece," only realize his bar in lacking one necessary element -- political friction amongst the club goers. When the Japanese finally invade Shanghai he gets more than he bargained for.

This beautifully photographed movie creates a very romantic image of Shanghai prior to WWII.
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