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The White Countess


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#1 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 12:50 PM

Just saw this -- very nice work by Chris Doyle, in the same mode as "The Quiet American", soft & low-key, although more romantic, less gritty. Compared to "2046", there is also a nice range of wide and medium shots.

It has a wonderfully "delicate" color-contrast pallette that comes from shooting on Fuji F-500T Eterna and pull-processing, plus using Cooke S4 lenses with Classic Soft diffusion filters throughout. Sort of creamy-looking like Agfa used to look. Doyle keeps it from looking too flat by keeping the lighting on the low-key side. A nice period look.

The movie itself is a bit dull, however. It creates this expectation of the fabulous dream nightclub that Ralph Fiennes wants to build, but the final result just seems like every other nightclub in the movie. And he describes how it is better in terms of the bouncers and girls he picked, etc. without actually showing him doing that. He just sits in his club looking happy at the end result, but we can't really see what's different. The model is "Casablanca" to some extent, but Rick's place was an obvious center of attraction for everyone, and that movie showed how he ran the place. "The White Countess" on the other hand, is far too languid about everything.
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#2 Mike Lary

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 01:11 PM

I loved the cinematography in this film and for me that made it worth watching despite the problems with the story. The narrative seems to loosen a bit about three quarters of the way through and there wasn't much of a payoff at the end. I'm not sure of the specific problems - it's been a while since I saw the film (I caught a screening at a festival). But the acting for the most part was top notch and I found myself thinking about how he lit each shot as opposed to what was happening, so I guess the film succeeded on one level and failed on another.
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#3 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 10:49 PM

I'm a little late in seeing this one, but I saw it at the library and had to check it out.

Really fantastic work as usual from Doyle. I would have to agree with the story's problems. Unfortunately, the movie sort of loses speed just as "The White Countess" club is opened.

It seems like much of the film was either filmed at a more closed down shutter angle, or perhaps shot at highspeed then slowed down to normal in post. I noticed most scenes were void of much motion blur and had that choppy look from a 90 degree shutter angle.

Still, not too much of a disappointment, even if you're a Merchant Ivory fan.
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