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A good movie

Posted : 3 years, 2 months ago on 10 August 2016 07:57

To be honest, I wasn’t really aware about who Liberace was before watching this movie but it was supposed to be the last movie directed by Steven Soderbergh before his retirement (which lasted only 4 years after all) so I was quite eager to check it out.  Eventually, I thought it was not bad at all  and I was above all impressed by Michael Douglas. Indeed, he easily gave one of his best performances and it was really neat to see him playing something else than his usual rich oversexed and arrogant SOB. Eventually, the main problem I had is that I didn’t care much about this story. Since it was the adaptation of the book written by Scott Thorson, it made sense that it was focusing on his relationship with Liberace and that the whole thing was told from his point of view but , while Liberace was quite fascinating, Thorson was not really interesting, I’m afraid. It is like their relationship, were we supposed to be actually shocked that a rich man like Liberace would have a live-in lover like Thorson? Why?!? I mean, there are some many celebrities who have a gorgeous trophy wife who doesn’t work at all and I don’t think there is something really weird about such  relationships, at least, that’s my opinion. Another thing, even though Matt Damon was not bad here, I think he was way too  old to play the part (Indeed, Scott Thorson was only about 17 years old when he met Liberace while Matt Damon was already 42 at the time) and I think an actor half his age would have been more interesting. Anyway, to conclude, in spite of its flaws, I thought it was a decent watch, above all thanks to a really good Michael Douglas, and it was definitely worth a look. 

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Behind the Candelabra

Posted : 4 years, 11 months ago on 28 October 2014 07:35

Steven Soderbergh’s work offers the biggest charge when he sits back and watches as professional commitments and messy private lives loudly crash into each other. Some of the best moments in Traffic are when Catherine Zeta-Jones’ pampered wife goes from bored housewife to cutthroat queen of the cartel or Michael Douglas’ Congressman having to rescue his drug addled daughter while confronting the messy realities of his war on drugs. And Behind the Candelabra is obsessed with the complex ways in which public persona of a talented artist causes him to be something of a controlling tyrant in his personal life.

A long-gestating passion project for Soderbergh, Behind the Candelabra is a fitting swansong for the auteur. Not only does it reunite him with Douglas, who gave a great performance in the above-mentioned Traffic and is even better here, but it practically rooted itself in his personal obsessions. It follows the five years in which a man named Scott Thorson (Matt Damon) becomes Liberace’s paid lackee, live-in boyfriend, and eventually spurned lover.

Their twisted romance, from a brilliant script by Richard LaGravanese, is a jaundiced prism through which we view showbiz and its desperation for submission and uniformity. Liberace demands a total acquiescence to his whims and ideals. He is a man who only wants those to who throw themselves at his feet in worship near him, and any slight questioning of his dictatorship is to find yourself cut out from his life. Replaced with a newer, younger, more eager model to bend and contort to his pleasures, or for them. Yet we glimpse inside of these moments the fragile, broken man demanding acceptance from a larger society, a safe haven in which he can completely himself.

If the original plan had gone through to release this a big screen entertainment instead of an HBO movie, I have no doubt in my mind that Michael Douglas would have found himself the proud owner of Oscar number three (he won previously as producer of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and actor for Wall Street). His clean sweep on the television awards circuit was well deserved. His performance is a marvel of not only capturing the cadence and mannerisms of the subject matter, but crafting a complete portrait of a real person. His narcissism is acidic to any healthy relationship, but there’s still a sympathetic individual and gaudy, entertaining persona wrapped around that damaged core. It’s one hell of a performance, and the better for not resting on easy imitation and avoiding loud, obvious choices.

Matt Damon is no slouch in the film either, having to sell us a naïve youth swept up in the tacky glamour of Las Vegas and the corrosive entrapments of fame and wealth. His Scott is eager to love and appease Liberace, but writing it off as a youth looking for a daddy figure is too simple. By the time Scott’s given himself over to the point of plastic surgery to look more like his lover/sugar daddy/benefactor, we have entered into a warped reality in which normal decisions about healthy relationships, morals, and strength of character no longer apply.

Orbiting them is a strange batch of character actors, and each of them is wonderful in their parts. Debbie Reynolds began life as a megawatt Movie Star, and has now found herself as a consummate character actress. It took me a moment to realize that was her as Liberace’s mother, she’s slathered in makeup prosthetics and a strange accent. She has one scene in which she’s playing a slot machine over and over, eventually hitting a jackpot, and proceeds to belittle and embarrass her son for not being able to pay her the full amount of her winnings. This small fragment is a tiny piece of character building for both of them, giving us a glimpse into where exactly he learned that relationships and profits can be intertwined.

Even better are Dan Aykroyd playing it straight as Liberace’s manager, Scott Bakula as a long-time friend who brings him fresh young boys to seduce and dominate, and Rob Lowe as a plastic surgeon. Lowe’s pinched face is a disturbing vision of the lengths one will go to preserve their image, and Lowe plays him as an impossibly attractive devil here to offer solace in the form of habit-forming pills and the tools to eradicate Scott’s identity to appease his lover. The trajectory of the story may become a tad familiar as drug addiction and a life-threatening illness consume the last chunk of the film, but this cast keeps it invigorating and moving along nicely.

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Posted : 5 years ago on 28 September 2014 06:13

It is one of those movies, when you expect it to be bad or mediocre but you end up having a great time.

It's tells the story of Liberace, a well known and famous pianist and entertainer, he lived a life of success and sexual perversion, he was known for his costumes and his candelabra (he came up with an idea of setting a candelabra above his piano), the movie didn't focus on his art, instead, it focused on his relationship with Scott Thorson (played by Matt Damon), and that's actually convenient because Scott Co-wrote this movie, the movie starts with Scott, he's a bisexual good looking guy who wants to be a veterinarian, and his friend introduced him to Liberace once, so Liberace offered Scott to come work for him as his assistant, and things evolve into a gay relationship.

I think the gay relationship wasn't the most interesting part about the movie, how scott evolved was more interesting, he was very shy at first, it obvious that he never tried a gay relationship before, he used to shiver when Liberace touch him, so you get to see Scott change, from that guy, to a jealous person, with a "California Diet", drug addictions and plastic surgeries, you get to see him abandoned his entire life, dreams and people who raised him just to become somebody's boyfriend, an idea that he completely rejected at first, but a life of glory, cars and gold made him forget what he really wants.

I wasn't familiar with Liberace before watching this movie, i actually never even heard about him, so i didn't think that this movie is going to be interesting, but it did surprise me, specially the performances, as usual, Matt Damon performance was incredible, even more incredible was Michael Douglas, he had the look, the walk, even the voice, you can watch interviews with the real Liberace to confirm, the movie production design was really interesting, they used actual items, furniture, specially made costumes, Jewelry's and many things were used by Liberace.

I think it's fair to mention that the movie somehow was more about Scott than Liberace, i mean, they didn't focus on his music, i think they're were only two maybe three scenes of Liberace playing the piano, which is why the movie title is "behind the candelabra" not "Liberace" i was actually worried on the way Steven Soderbergh will interpret this story, i don't like this director, and i thought that he was going to glorify a life style of perversion (drugs, homosexuality, plastic surgeries, ect.), but somehow he stayed on the line and kept a Biography pattern and did a very good job, if i have to criticize, i think he should have included more drama but it was good nonetheless.

Overall, it's a good, enjoyable movie, with great performances, great music and a valid message.

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Behind the Candelabra (2013) review

Posted : 5 years, 8 months ago on 22 February 2014 11:24

Campy and frankly, a little pointless. Great acting but otherwise nothing from the plot engages the audience much.

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