Couch Potato Pickings – Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

On BBC1 tonight at 10.35pm

Nicolas Cage

In case you didn’t know, a Nicolas Cage film came out at UK cinemas on Friday – Bangkok Dangerous. It’s the Pang Brothers’ remake of their 1999 action thriller of the same name. There’s not been much publicity around it, which is often a bad sign, but it made number one at the box office in the US this weekend so it must have something going for it.

Anyway, since Bangkok is reportedly dangerous at the moment, the film certainly has a topical title. In fact, you could argue that Bangkok has been dangerous for a while because a military coup in September 2006 temporarily interrupted the filming of this movie. The crew were night shooting at a smelly dockland warehouse area on the Chao Praya river when it happened. The first they heard of the incident was when the producers were being asked to cease their gunfire in case it could be taken the wrong way and they were then informed that there had been a military take-over of the government and saw the tanks rolling down the streets.

One to think about maybe, but in the meantime there’s a very different Nicolas Cage movie on TV tonight. An adaptation of Louis de Bernières’ bestselling novel, it’s a romantic period drama set on a Greek island during World War Two.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin: Nicolas Cage

Following its release in UK cinemas back in 2001, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was talked about a lot. I recall it coming up again and again in conversation. It was one of those films that you ended up feeling you had to see because everyone was talking about it.

Unfortunately, though, it wasn’t the story, the acting or the direction that were getting the attention. Everyone was talking about the film’s location – Kefalonia. In the wake of this movie’s release, it seemed that anybody and everybody was going or was thinking about going on holiday to this beautiful Greek island. I even met a few people who had bought properties there.

I personally never made it to that tourist hot-spot, but I understand that tourism on the island grew immensely thanks to this movie.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin: Penelope Cruz

Despite the overwhelming focus on the film’s beautiful setting, this movie does have additional merits. Cage, Penelope Cruz and John Hurt all deliver decent emotional performances. Admittedly, as an adaptation of a great novel this film doesn’t work too well, but as an escapist romance it’s high on entertainment value. Take a look, but make sure you’ve booked all your holidays before you do.

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