TV FILMS OF THE WEEK
MERCHANT Ivory heads for ‘30s Shanghai in this romantic drama. Former US diplomat Todd Jackson (Ralph Fiennes), who lost his sight at the same time as he lost his wife and children, hopes to open the perfect bar in the centre of a city bracing itself for Japanese invasion, aided by a shadowy figure called Matsuda (Hiroyuki Sanada). During Todd’s visits to many rival bars, he meets disgraced Russian countess Sofia (Natasha Richardson, pictured with Fiennes), a dancer and prostitute. Desperate to have Sofia as the jewel in the crown of his bar, Todd entreats her to work for him. In the process, he experiences a long overdue self-awakening. IN 2015, documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras deservedly collected an Oscar for her film Citizenfour, which gained access to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and invited him to recount his version of events. In her new film Risk, Poitras focuses on another divisive figure: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, pictured – and it’s anything but a rose-tinted portrait.