Sunday, June 9, 2013

Movie Week – Behind the Candelabra

So earlier in the week, I had a Steven Soderbergh double feature of Contagion and Magic Mike.  But then I remember that Esteban had another movie that I’d really wanted to see; Behind the Candelabra. 

Who doesn’t want to watch a movie about Michael Douglas seducing Matt Damon?  Doesn’t that sound like an awesome Saturday Night? 

And now our feature presentation. 

Behind the Candelabra has the distinction of being Steven Soderbergh’s “final” film.  He’s going to take some time off to explore other aspects of life. I for one am going to miss his work because he’s a very dependable filmmaker. 

Confession time; I dig Liberace.  Granted I really only go to know of him late in life, I find him fascinating.  I mean here’s a guy who’s completely flamboyant for three decades and his adoring fans never get the idea that he’s gay.  It blows my mind.

I mean he even showed up in Good Night, and Good Luck, which I’d watched the pervious night, completely in the closet.  I’m not judging by the way, I can remember watching early Wham! Views and not being aware that George Michael was gay.  You live and you learn. 

And the fact that Liberace was such a huge draw for such a long time, it’s really quite impressive.  So getting a glimpse at what his life was like was an opportunity that I could pass up. 

Behind the Candelabra really mirrors Boogie Nights in terms of arc.  We have a young guy getting introduced to the life of a star, becoming seduced by it and ultimately succumbing to drugs.  And it’s because of it’s familiarity that it works. 

Candelabra also echoes Boogie Knights in that it documents a bygone era completely, from fashion to trends.  The lavishness of Liberace’s lifestyle makes this aspect particularly entertaining. 

The cast does a really good job of filling out their roles.  Michael Douglas invests Liberace with arrogance, vulnerability and even humanity, while Damon plays Scot Thorson as a character who evolves from being moderately naïve to bordering on being a douche.  Scott Bakula quietly plays an enabler, while Rob Lowe basically steals every scene he’s in. 

The locations the film was shot in looked grand.  And having lived in Vegas I recognized a couple of the places, most notably the adult bookstore Liberace and Scott visit.  That was a place that coworkers and I would invariably hit up after a night of sushi.  Someone would suggest we check it out and we’d head there, en masse, to laugh at all the various devices. 

But back to the movie.  It managed to find the balance between camp and humanity, which is difficult to do when the subject is Liberace.  If you get the opportunity, give it a shot, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.   

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