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Captain Corelli's Mandolin

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Starring: Nicolas Cage, Penélope Cruz, John Hurt
Christian Bale, David Morrissey, and Irene Papas
Directed by: John Madden
Rated: R

i Nicolas Cage è un uomo bello!—Em


Shame on Captain Corelli's Mandolin for taking away a four star rating from itself! What am I talking about? Well, CCM is one of the most romantic wartime films since The English Patient, but, unlike The English Patient with its dramatic heart wrenching mind-altering ending, Corelli goes past possible perfection and heads into "enough already" territory. A film afraid to let down any part of an audience (here the Hollywood ending portion of you), often alienates the audience that would have embraced it; this is Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

It's a terrible shame, because Nicolas Cage was excellent— once you got over his accent and desperately stopped imagining his other less, shall we say, moviestar roles that sit in your memory caves making you smirk with each uttered "bello bambino" he presents from his adorable lips. Face it no one takes him serious yet and Captain Corelli could have changed that...

The sexy sleepy eyed mankabab can act. Imagine that! But his filmmakers ruined his glory by foregoing a dialect coach, and leaving a rancid taste of week old mozzarella by way of the unnecessary, ongoing ending which muddied up the awe and left the audience bitter, once again. Think Artificial Intelligence, positively brilliant till Spielberg had to ad that last 30 minutes...

Capt. Corelli takes place on picture postcard beautiful (thanks to cinematographer John Toll) Cephalonia (Kefallonia), Greece right as the Greeks have had a small victory in WW2 over in Albania. Hitler doesn't take to well to this small defeat and orders the allied Italians to "move in" on the Greeks. It's war stuff I won't bore you.

On this small, but strategically placed island we meet a beautiful (I, personally, think she looks like a chicken) girl Pelagia (Penelope " I don't even have to change my last name if we marry momma" Cruz) and her father, the island doctor (a brilliant John Hurt). Pelagia has agreed to marry her studly Greek boyfriend, MANdras (studly Christian Bale) when he returns from the war.

They are young and in love, or is it just lust? He's off and she is left alone to worry and wonder as to his faith because Mr. Sensitive, Mandras, never so much as etches his "X" into a letter and she fears he is gone forever.

Meanwhile her father, in dire need of medical supplies, agrees to house a captain from the Italian army that's been sent by the allies to secure Cephalonia. More war stuff…The captain, named Antonio Corelli (Nick - remember to call Emily Blunt-Cage) is a life-loving, free spirit caught up in a war with his childhood friends not hell-bent on killing anyone, as, I imagine many young men are in a war. Capt Corelli will only shoot you if your opera preference is Verdi, then he has no mercy, and will not be held responsible for his troop's reaction. It's a little joke, as his men are all singers or musicians and part of an opera club back home. He and his bellowing Italians almost make war look fun.

Pelagia and Capt. Corelli get off to a bad start. She thinks he's an ass for being so happy while war is all around them. He thinks she's adorable when she yells. So you know love is sneaking in through the goat's cheese poop of circumstances surrounding them. Naturally Mandras, her betrothed love, returns just as her heart and head is filled will wild Rhesus monkey sex thoughts of the charming Capt. and herself alone on one the many romantic island beaches partaking in some mixing of two ancient cultures under the Grecian moon.

But, before the two men can battle each other the war takes a turn and Hitler is no longer cozy with the Italians. He's sending other Italian squads north to concentration camps and Capt. Corelli must make a decision involving trust and his future.

As they say in Italian as the last drop of Chianti Classico Castello di Volpaia is sipped from the roman goblet, "il partito è sopra"

Sure, I'm biased about Cage— I adore this fellow. Admittedly, I'd like to wrap his tilapia in tzatziki and slowly undress him like the fine-layered moussaka he is. I also think he's become easy pickin's for the meaner-spirited press. Yes, he's the chairman of the board at the Nicolas Cage School of Acting where the motto is: "one expression equals all expressions," but he really did a good job in Corelli and it will go unnoticed and ridiculed. He's no Benicio del Toro or Gary Oldman in the impeccable dialect/accent department. It seemed Nicky's education on Italian accent pronunciation probably involved simply popping in couple of Coppola's scenes involving a Godfather movie or two, while he slurped down an espresso.

Christian Bale looked his usual dangerously sexy self. I think I need a fix of American Psycho. He's a talented fellow who commands his screen.

John Hurt, what can I say that hasn't been said in his long career? He's an ever-morphing actor who, no doubt, hires a dialect coach when on call for a "foreign" role. Ahem.

Penelope Cruz didn't suck. I admit I don't understand the Hollywood hubbub around her. I think she resembles Ringo Starr in drag quite frankly but, I'm not a clam diggin' gal or a red-blooded man so, I'll leave it at that. She tries to be all pouty a little too much here or her performance would have been much better. I have liked a couple of her works so I'll spare her the verbal ballet.

Snack Recommendation: Ouzo and Chianti, served with Porcini Pasta, Pancini Risotto, Patissada di Polenta, dolmades, for dessert, La Nociata and Baklava (walnut kind!)

 

 

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