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Captain Corelli's Mandolin


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๐ŸŽ™️ EPISODE 397: 12.21.21
Starting in 2020, I decided to watch & review the entire Nicolas Cage filmography in alphabetical order. This is ๐”—๐”ฅ๐”ข ๐”œ๐”ข๐”ž๐”ฏ ๐”ฌ๐”ฃ โ„ญ๐”ž๐”ค๐”ข – Chapter 13.


In many ways, this is the worst Nicolas Cage movie I've watched yet. It has many of the hallmarks of a 'type' of film which I hate. It's a (fairly) large budget, historical drama loosely based on, or at least framed by, true events. In this case, we're talking about a fun little thing known as the Massacre of the Acqui Division, where roughly 6,500 were killed, executed, or drowned trying to escape. More on this later! It is also one of those international movies where no less than three languages are all interpreted in English with actors doing bad accents one would associated with those languages' origin countries (chiefly, Greece, Italy and Germany).
Note: The accent thing can be annoying, but it's not like it still isn't common practice; I know in the recent HBO limited series, Chernobyl, all the actors spoke English and not Russian. It is what it is, a fairly common practice with some low-stakes suspension of disbelief asked of the audience. Our minds are trained to accept it, and it can be done serviceably or poorly, and in this case? Hoo-boy, it is definitely the latter...


So let's get to that elephant in the room: pretty much the only enjoyment I garnered from this hot mess was Nicolas Cage's Italian accent. I mean, I'm sorry... it just makes me smile. And when he does a German accent as if an Italian was doing it? Even better...


But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Check out Studio Canal's production bumper, which is one of the most 2001-ass things I've ever seen...



The film begins on the idyllic Greek island of Cephalonia with a father-daughter combo played by John Hurt and Penelope Cruz, both fine actors! In general, their accent work is the least offensive. But let's back up even further.

This is director John Madden's (not the football coach, a different guy) followup to his smash hit, Best Motion Picture -winning, Little Movie That Could Shakespeare in Love. Now, I have not seen that movie since I was in high school, but I do recall really liking it back then, and I was happy when it — somewhat shockingly, if my memory is correct — beat out Life Is Beautiful, Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line (talk about a big year for World War II! WWII was so hot in 1998!). Is Shakespeare in Love a good movie? I honestly have no idea. My 16 or 17 year-old brain certainly thought it was good in a sorta hopeless romantic way which I don't think is too abnormal. But if I rewatched it now, I think I might feel differently. Although we are talking about the auteur who would go on to make not only The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel but The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel as well. I digress.

We're then introduced to Christian Bale as Cruz's love interest and I was like, "woah, that's Christian Bale; had no idea he was in this movie, that's cool." Bale is not bad in the role, but his character is very badly written. We need to feel like Cruz is making the right choice later on when she falls in love with Cage so they include an extremely awkward scene where he ties her to a chair as a prank (?)...



But mostly it's all fun and games and young love and big Greek parties where Bale gets hit in the ass by a canon...



However, the good times can't last forever, and—what's that sound? Oh no, that would be World War II coming home to roost ๐Ÿ˜ž. Bale leaves to fight on the side of the good guys and the Italian army arrives on the island and we meet Mr. Captain Corelli himself, played by— you guessed it! Who else...



These Italian soldiers might be allies with the Nazis. Sure. Cannot deny it. But they are so not like all those other Nazi-ish Nazis. Nope. No way. Totes diff. They love life and music—MUSIC!—oh, how they love music. In fact, they are a freaking singing troupe of army guys. What? Yup, pretty cool...



Don't they just sound amazing, impromptu-singing like that on a windy beach? It's almost they're voices were pre-recorded in a studio or something. Hmm. Very cool, though. Also, it's a requirement to be in their particular army club? I'm sure that's normal and accurate. Alright, moving right along.

Bale returns home, totally grizzled and totally fucked up from the war. But at least Cruz — who thinks she's some kind of WOMAN doctor, as if! — gets to see his cock before they get married...



Cage is assigned to live at the home of Cruz and Hurt and he can get them meat if they want meat. He knows a meat guy...



Cage is not trying to be funny in this, not at all, but it is still hilarious, and funny in a way which is totally different in comparison to everything else I've watched thus far. One night he comes home drunk and because it's in the damn title, he breaks out his— you guessed it! MANDOLIN...



The title of this is very weird because the mandolin, while — yes, sure — it is a symbol of his love of life and music, it isn't an artifact that specifically holds any significance; he just plays it once or twice. But shit, things need titles so what do I know.

The war amps up again and Bale is forced to leave home a second time. It's around here when Cage explains the difference between Germans and Italians (in so many words). I understand, historically-speaking, it's accurate to say that the Germans were way worse, but I do wonder if this retcon isn't a bit much. A fascist is still a fascist after all...



Cruz attempts to counter this argument, but Cage has an answer for it. And then they bone right after this scene...



So Cage and Cruz fall in love because of course they do, but this goddam World War II has other ideas. Ugh! Hate this dumb WWII! Bale returns home (again) even more deranged. There's a lot of politics explaining and plot-moving exposition, and we eventually get to the stage right before the Wikipedia page I linked to in the opening paragraph. Mussolini has fallen. The Italians are going home, and there are still somehow more than 45 minutes left in this thing so sorry, Italians, NOT. SO. FAST!

Everything that transpires next, including this lovely and well-executed war sequence...



... is — generally — as close to what actually happened in real life as maybe you're gonna get. EXCEPT for the fact that Cage's Captain Corelli isn't a real person. He is complete fiction. He survives the hellish massacre because he is simply a device for a love story that has no connection to the brutal reality of these other events. It's so cheap and it's so lazy. It's Forrest Gump shit. Cage is the only survivor of the execution because remember that guy from earlier whom he made fun of because he couldn't sing? Well, that guy sacrifices himself to save Cage for some reason ¯\_(ใƒ„)_/¯ ...



In the end, those damn Nazis acted very Nazi-ish indeed. The fun-loving Italians shoulda probably never gotten mixed up with them in the first place, me thinks. Ah well, nevertheless. The freaking denouement lasts an eternity and, honestly, if the movie had some ended right after all that war action then it would have scored a few notches higher. It's not the type of film I ever want to watch, but it's fairly well-made and paced. But these final thirty minutes are a CHORE to get through. Bale helps Cage escape back to Italy after they nurse him back to health. Then there is a goddam major earthquake years later on the island because — again — THIS IS REAL LIFE, THIS ALSO HAPPENED IN REAL LIFE, RIGHT? (Seriously, the decision to include the post-war earthquake is just so so dumb. Like, lest you thought World War II was bad by itself, what about suffering through a major natural disaster right after WWII? Whoa, the humanity or whatever.)

Cage sends Cruz an LP of his music and then eventually shows up in person for the reunion. But they aren't real people. All the real people got shot by Nazis and died in the actual earthquake. But in the movie world, they survive and play the mandolin and live happily ever after. That's what they do. As for me, well I never have to watch this movie again so I got that going for me.
THE VERDICT: 4 CAGES OUT OF 10 • CLICK HERE for all ๐”—๐”ฅ๐”ข ๐”œ๐”ข๐”ž๐”ฏ ๐”ฌ๐”ฃ โ„ญ๐”ž๐”ค๐”ข Chapters + Ongoing Rankings.

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⤊ RECENTLY RELEASED MOVIES (HOMEPAGE) • NEWLY POSTED REVIEWS ⤇ Ep. 399B (12/23), Ep. 399A (12/23), Ep. 398B (12/21), Ep. 398A (12/21), Ep. 397 (12/21), Ep. 396 (12/21), Ep. 395 (12/16), Ep. 394B (12/16), Ep. 394A (12/16), Ep. 393 (12/16), Ep. 392 (12/15), Ep. 391 (12/10), Ep. 390 (11/19), Ep. 389 (11/19), Ep. 388 (11/17), Ep. 387 (11/16), Ep. 386 (11/12), Ep. 385 (11/11), Ep. 384 (11/10), Ep. 383 (11/9), Ep. 382 (11/9), Ep. 381 (11/5), Ep. 380 (11/4), Ep. 379 (11/3), Ep. 378 (11/2), Ep. 377 (11/1)

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