1) Captain Corelli's Mandolin
| With this lavish follow-up to Shakespeare in Love, director John Madden proves himself a worthy craftsman of
literary films, and while Captain Corelli's Mandolin may frustrate admirers of Louis de Bernières's densely
detailed novel, it's a tastefully old-fashioned adaptation, preserving the novel's flavor while focusing on its
love story set against the turbulence of World War II. Set on the Greek island of Cephallonia, the drama begins
in 1940 with occupation by Italian troops, awkwardly allied with the Nazis and preferring hedonistic friendliness
over military intimidation. That attitude is most generously embodied by Captain Corelli (Nicolas Cage), who is
instantly drawn to the Greek beauty Pelagia (Penélope Cruz) despite her engagement to Mandras (Christian Bale),
a resistance fighter whose absence leaves Pelagia needy for affection. Mandras's eventual return--and the
inevitable attack by German bombers and ground troops--threaten to stain this Greek-Italian romance with deeply
Accompanied by pensive serenades from the captain's cherished mandolin, the film charts the unlikely attraction of Corelli and Pelagia, whose wizened physician father (splendidly played by John Hurt) fears for the worst. Their love is uneasy (and Cage's miscasting doesn't help), but the island's beguiling atmosphere is as seductive to them as it is to the viewer, thus making the outbreak of violence--and a climactic earthquake--jarringly traumatic. Emphasizing nobility in war and the many definitions of love, the story's wartime context intensifies the film's admirable depth of emotion. Faults will be found by anyone who's looking for them, but Captain Corelli's Mandolin remains a sensuous, richly layered film that die-hard romantics will find hard to resist.
|2) BraveHeart|| A stupendous historical saga, Braveheart won five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for star
Mel Gibson.He plays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish commoner who unites the various clans against a cruel
English King, Edward the Longshanks (Patrick McGoohan). The scenes of hand-to-hand combat are brutally violent,
but they never glorify the bloodshed. There is such enormous scope to this story that it works on a smaller, more
personal scale as well, essaying love and loss, patriotism and passion. Extremely moving, it reveals Gibson as a
multitalented performer and remarkable director with an eye for detail and an understanding of human emotion.
(His first directorial effort was 1993's Man Without a Face.) The film is nearly three hours long and includes
several plot tangents, yet is never dull. This movie resonates long after you have seen it, both for its visual
beauty and for its powerful story.
|3) Dances With Wolves|| This is the movie that sent director-producer-actor Kevin Costner on his hubristic way. It is such a resonant
and powerful film we can almost forgive him the arrogance of his later "epic," The Postman. Costner plays a Union
solder who is stationed at the far edges of the West, and left there to rot at his post. He finally sees the wisdom
of the Lakota Sioux and finds peace within their community. His decision to "go native" is greatly frowned upon by
his military commanders. The story is told simply, and wastes not one word of dialogue, while the South Dakota
locations provide a magnificent backdrop. Costner plays an American Everyman who awakens to himself and the world
around him. We are drawn to him, and his story, because of his accessibility.