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Hercules Says It’s Easy To Get Behind Soderbergh’s Superb And Supergay Sunday HBO Movie BEHIND THE CANDELABRA!!

I am – Hercules!!

A fascinating and frequently hilarious examination of Liberace’s eye-opening personal life, “Behind The Candelabra” may or may not mark the self-imposed end of Steven Soderbergh’s career as a film director – but if it is truly to be his last big-screen effort (the HBO movie plays in cinemas overseas), it turns out to be one of the most entertaining showbiz exits ever.

The private Liberace turns out to be way more interesting than the public version who claimed (until the day AIDS finally claimed him) to lust after Norwegian figure skater Sonja Henie. A devout Wisconsin Catholic who apparently came to believe God gave him special permission to aggressively pursue sexual relationships with much younger men, the famed pianist is depicted as using his wealth to build a highly fuckable entourage of attractive and similarly inclined male servants and business associates.

The project is based on the book by secret boyfriend Scott Thorson, who became Liberace’s bedmate and employee within days of their first meeting. One of the funnier things about the tale is the practiced manner with which the entertainer acquires and jettisons his human trophies. The biggest laughs, though, likely derive from the central duo’s indulgence of cosmetic surgery.

Who knew Michael Douglas had this kind of range? Working well outside his wheelhouse to impersonate the musician, Douglas gamely adopts the famed nasal twang, occasionally appears bald and frequently bares a great deal of his saggy 68-year-old physique.

Matt Damon makes an enduring impression as the buff and bimbo-esque teen Thorson, who takes much too long to realize how overmatched he is. He and Douglas convincingly swap spit on more than one occasion.

Dan Aykroyd gets his best role in years as Liberace’s loyal and pragmatic manager. Debbie Reynolds is admirably unrecognizable as mother Frances Liberace. Rob Lowe makes for a terribly effective walking sight gag as an inept plastic surgeon. And “30 Rock” vet Cheyenne Jackson is memorable as the bitter boy-toy who finds himself abruptly tossed to the curb when Thorson comes into the picture.

Hitfix says:

... It's rare that I hate an HBO movie, but it's been a long time since I loved one. Until now. …

Time says:

... a high-quality sendoff …

The New York Times says:

... Sashaying across Las Vegas stages and epic suburban living rooms with a drum major’s puffed-up grandeur and a lounge lizard’s predatory smile, Mr. Douglas gives a performance so assured, so free of camp or cringe, that you quickly surrender any doubts you might have had about his playing a famously flamboyant, closeted-in-plain-sight gay entertainer. At the same time there’s something limited, and limiting, about Mr. Douglas’s portrayal. Its brilliance feels as if it were all on the surface, a matter of expertise and professionalism. And the same could be said of Mr. Soderbergh’s film …

The Los Angeles Times says:

... a darkly moving and provocative look at two lonely men who briefly found something like love before the maelstrom of fame, money and drugs, all churning within the confines of the sexual closet, blew it apart. … one of those films that must be viewed at least twice -- once for the performances (and the costumes) alone, then again to let the implications of the story sink in. …

The Chicago Sun-Times says:

... Half the fun of “Behind the Candelabra” is watching these two Hollywood heavyweights deftly tackle roles that could have been career-enders not that long ago. …

The San Francisco Chronicle says:

... Michael Douglas is astonishing. ... Damon is just as good, somehow convincing us that he's far younger than he is in real life and artfully keeping us guessing about Thorson's true motivation as he worms his way into Liberace's life. …

The Washington Post says:

... a sordid and at times beguiling glimpse into one of the world’s blingiest closets and the closet-case who occupied it. But it is mostly only sordid, and strangely devoid of the thematic layers that often accompanied the director’s recent work. …

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says:

... tells a pretty conventional story, but, boy, does it tell it with flair. … Mr. Douglas, in particular, does a fantastic Liberace impression that doesn't get in the way of showing Liberace's loneliness, his sense of entitlement and his rapacious appetite for younger men …

The Boston Herald says:

... B+ … if the script can at times seem slight, Douglas and Damon are 
superb. …

The Boston Globe says:

... the rest of the film matches Douglas’s brilliance in every way. Beautifully written (by Richard LaGravenese) and directed (by Steven Soderbergh), “Behind the Candelabra” doesn’t quite fit into the biopic genre — simply because it is so good. …

USA Today says:

... Buffed to a typical HBO high gloss, Candelabra is a visual feast. But it shines brightest in those moments where it captures the rhythms of a relationship in its first blush of affection and its seemingly inevitable collapse. There's a universality here, but it's laced with that specific, peculiar way fame, money and celebrity can eliminate empathy. …

TV Guide says:

... HBO's grandest, gaudiest and most fascinating movie in quite a long while — probably since last year's Game Change … Tune in out of morbid curiosity and you will be rewarded with a voyeuristic glimpse into a world of palatial kitsch that can't mask the pathos …

Variety says:

... the most bigscreen-worthy film that director Steven Soderbergh has made since “Che” …

The Hollywood Reporter says:

... Superbly scripted, brilliantly directed, smart but never smarmy and led by a lead performance by Michael Douglas so good you often forget you’re watching an actor rather than the famous character he’s playing, this is a rarity, a fully realized biographical drama shot through with real feeling and an abundance of sly humor. It’s a winner all around. …

9 p.m. Sunday. HBO.

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