Behind the Candelabra (2013)

behindthecandelabra_1rStarring Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Dan Aykroyd, Rob Lowe, Debbie Reynolds, Scott Bakula, Tom Papa, Nicky Katt, Cheyenne Jackson, Paul Reiser, Boyd Holbrook, David Koechner

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Expectations: High. I’m becoming quite the Soderbergh fan.

threehalfstar


As I sit here wondering where to start the review, I’m realizing that articulating what I liked and didn’t like about Behind the Candelabra is going to be tough. What I can easily say is that just about everything I loved about the film stems from the performances by Michael Douglas and Matt Damon as Liberace and Scott Thorson respectively. The duo is absolutely smashing together, so even when the film hits some dull, obvious scenes through its relatively standard biopic arc, it’s hard to knock the film too much because the sheer amount of acting prowess on display is huge. Douglas and Damon would be high on the contention list for the Oscars if this wasn’t a film made for HBO.

Behind the Candelabra begins by showing us how Scott comes to meet Liberace. Scott works as a dog trainer on films, hoping to one day parlay his passion for working with animals into a career as a veterinarian. His life path shifts when his buddy Bob (Scott Bakula) takes him to a Liberace show. The performance dazzles Scott (and every other audience member), and when Scott goes backstage with Bob, Liberace immediately takes notice of Scott’s youth and good looks. There are warning signs all around Scott, but in the face of such showmanship, he can’t help but get sucked in.

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Piranha 3DD (2012)

Starring Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bush, David Koechner, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Chris Zylka, Katrina Bowden, Adrian Martinez, Paul James Jordan, Meagan Tandy, David Hasselhoff, Christopher Lloyd, Paul Scheer, Gary Busey, Clu Gulager

Directed by John Gulager

Expectations: High. I’ve been very excited to see this, hoping for a sequel that recaptures the horror/comedy of the 2010 remake.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


Long story short: This movie contains none of the guilty fun of the original. It’s not that Piranha 3DD is pure shit, it’s more that it’s a shameless cash-in, it’s obvious and it squanders an opportunity to deliver another horribly debaucherous, gory good time. I thought the 2010 remake, Piranha 3D, was hopelessly shitty, but it was made with such style and filled with such inventive gore that I couldn’t help but become enamored with it. It seriously had no business being as funny and gore-tastic as it was. So when I heard there was a sequel looming, I instantly become excited and hoped it could live up to its predecessor. Maybe if previous director Alexandre Aja was still around, but this time we get John Gulager, the man who brought the world the Feast trilogy, of which I have seen none (and based on the strength of this one, I won’t be changing that anytime soon).

Piranha 3DD opens with a scene that holds no significance or bearing on the tale that I can remember. It features Gary Busey and his buddy hunting around a lake in the dark of night for their cow. How or why their cow is in the lake we will never know, but when they do find said cow, it’s dead, rather gassy, and it involuntarily shoots a couple of piranha eggs out its ass. Oh, if only I had paid for the 3D! While fish eggs from a dead cow’s ass might whet your cinematic appetite, don’t be fooled! The film actually focuses on a water park recently taken over by a money-hungry dude who hires strippers for lifeguards and designates one of the pools as an “Adult Pool,” complete with condom dispensers poolside and a “Cooch Cam.”

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