living in

Living In: Behind The Candelabra

by Maxwell Tielman

I’ll admit, I’m not usually a big fan of musician biopics. Although there have been a slew of critically acclaimed ones in the past decade (Ray, Walk The Line, etc), there’s something about the trite bring-em-up, take-em-down plot arc that isn’t always palatable for me, despite any factual authenticity. Even without prior knowledge of the film’s subject, one can expect to see a protagonist thrust into fame, become seduced by wealth, succumb to a drug addiction, and (hopefully) eventually come to terms with reality. It is because of the genre’s depressing predictability that I was apprehensive about watching Steven Soderbergh’s new Liberace biopic, Behind The Candelabra, this past weekend. I shouldn’t have been worried. After all, any film about a man whose tagline is “Too much of a good thing is wonderful” is sure to win me over.

With Michael Douglas as the epically flamboyant Liberace and Matt Damon as his cherubic young lover, this single film packs in enough glitz, glamor, and glitter to fill ten. The sets and costumes—filled with marble, gold, and fur galore— have the seedy opulence of an off-strip Las Vegas casino, making this film perfect guilty pleasure material. Cinematic grandeur aside, the film also features mind-blowing performances by its two leads and a surprising, scene-stealing turn from Rob Lowe, as a serpentine plastic surgeon. All-in-all, this new film, which premiered on HBO last Sunday, has all the makings for an instant cult classic. —Max

1. Black & White Lounge Shirt | 2. Gold Slippers | 3. Alexis Bittar Jaguar Ring | 4. Black & Gold Table Lamp | 5. Ivory Old-Fashioned Telephone | 6. Roman Portrait Bust | 7. Art Nouveau Candelabra | 8. Antique Art Deco Piano | 9. Sunglasses

1. Purple Banquette | 2. Velour Track Pant | 3. Jonathan Adler Uppers Container | 4. Alessi Wine Cooler | 5. Mirror | 6. Henri Bendel Dog Bowl | 7. Lalique Horse Figurine | 8. Glitter Blast Hair Spray | 9. Orrefors Chimney Candle Holder

Film: Behind The Candelabra

Year: 2013

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Starring: Matt Damon, Michael Douglas, Rob Lowe

Art Direction: Patrick M. Sullivan Jr.

Set Decoration: Barbara Munch

Costume Design: Ellen Mirojnick

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  • Just watched this last night. Amazing! The jewelry, clothing and sets to die for! I just put on my website some great late 70’s early 80’s pieces but definitely not as outrageous as what these guys wore.

  • I felt so sorry for poor Rob Lowe! The man is gorgeous, and is aging gracefully (and is even more handsome than before!) and they taped him up into a Joan Rivers look-alike! Aside from that, the movie was fun for seeing the glamorous excess in the decor and costumes, and yes, the acting was knock-em-dead, but it was ultimately sad at the end (and a few areas in the middle!). Well, such is life!

  • I went to the Liberace museum in Vegas before it closed. The quality of the costumes was amazing. Really kitschy, but gorgeous fabrics and tailoring. Can’t wait to see this show!

  • Some of the costumes were on target, some lacked some of the detail that made the originals over the top. The sets were just incredible! As for the movie plot – another sad tale of a disfunctional marriage. Some really great zingers, though!!

  • Ellen, I went there a couple of times, too — what an AMAZING place! I loved seeing all of the costumes up close. The “lasagna suit” was my favorite. Lee definitely had a sense of humor…

  • I’ve seen the reviews and this film’s supposed to be great – one I’ll be watching for sure! Anything beats The Hangover Part III. Great post, too, I think I need to bling my lifestyle up a bit. I’m also going to watch Beware Mr Baker, although I’d recommend everyone avoid his particular type of lifestyle (former wildman drummer from the ’60s) – he even breaks the director’s nose at one point. Lovely!

  • Andria: Thanks so much – read the article – I feel kinda silly now, but hey, what a great piece of acting, Rob! The entire cast was wonderful! And I forgot to comment on Scott Bakula’s porn-king look! (Cool ‘stache, though!)

  • Hi there! You simply must credit the Production Designer, Howard Cummings! The Production Designer is the person responsible for the overall look of the film. He’s the visual mastermind who oversees the costumes, set dec, props, etc. (and he’s the recipient of Oscars, Emmys, and all that good stuff if he should be so lucky). Not to mention, Howard is my former boss and hands down one of the most talented persons around! By the way, fabulous post :)

  • La vi ayer y es maravillosa, la actuación, tiene mucha gracia, el cirujano plastico es para llorar de risa. Gracias por el post!

  • I have been stalking this movie since 2009 when it first popped up under my “Liberace” Google alert. To tell you the truth, the production design was understated by Liberace standards, but very well done indeed. It was like a tasteful Liberace. Did you know they shot part of it at Zsa Zsa Gabor’s house? One of the set designers was interviewed in the HBO ‘behind the scenes’ thing — she said the secret to his style was to do everything in pairs. If one giant chandelier was good — TWO was even better. In watching it you can see they stuck to that motto for sure! Also, I am creepily attracted to that phone. I don’t even have a land-line…but it might need to happen.

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