Wednesday, 29 May 2013


Despite the title this is an Italian film - and quite an attractive one at that.

Given that the subject matter - an unassuming member of the public chasing fame by applying to appear on TV's 'Big Brother' - is such a contemporary one, I'm surprised that, for all its dramatic potential, the situation hasn't been tried on film before, at least not in any one of which I am aware.

A Neapolitan fish-stall owner is egged on, mainly by younger members of his extended family, to have a go at the preliminary stage of B.B. when Naples is visited by the show's organisers scouting for 'talent'. His initial lack of enthusiasm gradually gets the better of him when he's given a glowingly promising assessment - which leads him on to thinking that just appearing on the programme, without necessarily even winning it, will bring him such lucrative fame that his and his family's lives will be transformed. When it appears that he hasn't been called as a member of the team he doesn't lose hope as it's immediately revealed that during the course of the particular run two new members will be introduced into the house, and he's convinced that he will be one of them. He therefore starts to burn his bridges, much to the dismay of family members and friends around him, who think he's 'lost it'. I won't reveal whether or not he does get to appear in the B.B. house - but the film follows an engaging track, starting light-heartedly when he does a drag act at a wedding, and then getting pretty deep, without its depth being an encumbrance.

I think the film has a message for many people, though it's perhaps doubtful that even those who catch it outside Italy (which, I'd imagine, will be very few) would think that the depiction of the central role could possibly apply to them. I've never watched a complete Big Brother series. I did sporadically dip into the very first one out of curiosity, but not since then as I just find them a crashing bore. But the application goes wider than B.B. Consider the ubiquitous talent shows where just about everyone appearing thinks that he or she has found the key to instant untold wealth and fame, often being totally deluded as to the presence of any special 'gifts' they may or may not possess. Nothing wrong with dreams, of course, but if riches were so easily attainable we'd all be rolling in money for our entire lifespans.

'Reality' kept me absorbed, I having no idea how it was going to play out. A fairly modest film, and no worse for it being so, I award it a commendable ................................6.5

Oh, and btw: The answer to the crossword clue in my previous post is 'KINGS' - at least I hope it will be when the solution comes out on Sunday. I think the clue is rather neat.


  1. I'd not heard of this Ray and it sounds very interesting. Thanks for making me aware of it.

  2. Ray, I promised you that I'd share my thoughts with you on "Candelabra." I've read a few blogs and note that there are some negative reviews. Please bear in mind that reviews are subjective and really don't give the true worth of the film. It is what you bring to it when viewing it.

    Michael Douglas fully inhabits the character. However, the one drawback is that Douglas is such a strong personality that, at times, you see Douglas playing Liberace. At least, I did. Kudos to Douglas for venturing into a territory where others would fear to go. Damon is just so darn good, convincing us that he is far younger than he is in real life. Damon keeps us guessing about Thorson's motivation as he worms his way into Liberace's life. I would be remiss if I did not mention Damon in a speedo and Damon's bum - worth the price of admission.

    "Too much of a good thing is wonderful," Liberace said to his audience and this was beautifully shown by the-behind-the scenes artists in duplicating Liberace's homes. He did not just buy one item, he bought two. And his actual living space was three homes he purchased and connected.

    I really enjoyed this look into the final 10 years of Liberace's life and I think that Soderbergh's final film was a great way to say "goodbye" to his film career.

    Btw, HBO was the only studio that could do justice to this story as they go where others are afraid to venture. Sunday evening they gave us a Soderbergh night: "Magic Mike" followed by "Candelabra."

  3. Thanks so much, Paul. What you say has considerably lifted my hopes and expectations, especially after having read a really damning one a couple of days ago. It's due to open in London one week today - and elsewhere, if not on the same day then a week later. I most assuredly WILL be going.
    To people of my generation Liberace was much more familiar than for those who are younger, and from the very brief clips I've seen, Douglas looks no more than very vaguely like L, at least facially. But as it's not intended to be a literal re-creation I can live with that. I'm curious as to how they've managed to show his piano playing. As you know, in earlier films they'd have usually shown an actor in a 'piano-playing' role in long shot, the keyboard close-ups obviously being of an actual pianist's hands. I suppose now C.G.I. could depict anybody at all as a piano virtuoso, even animals!.

    Incidentally, in 'The Music Lovers' the hands were actually Richard Chamberlain's (as one could tell from there being no cuts between close-ups and distance, the camera rolling about as though the camera operator was seriously tipsy) though 'playing' on a piano with hammers removed.

    Yes, Douglas does bring quite a bit of baggage with him - and I too admire him for accepting this role, light years from anything else he's played before. In addition there's the added poignancy of his cancer scare which ought to make anyone with a heart allow him a certain leeway, even if he wouldn't want it himself.

    I've said before that, while recognising that Damon has a multitude of fans, I've never felt any attraction towards him as a person (so afraid I won't be 'appreciating' the sight of his undraped torso) - and it's only very recently that I think he's shown himself as a good actor, despite others having thought he was so from the beginning. But, unlike Douglas, with him there won't be the 'baggage' I've mentioned. It's also intriguing casting.

    You've read Thorson's book, I believe, though I didn't know the story about the relationship. In my Sunday paper there was a long interview with him in prison where, so the article says, he won't have been able to watch the broadcast of the film as the TV to which prisoners are allowed access doesn't take the HBO channel. He'll have to wait till he gets out and then rent it! Otherwise I don't think there'd have been anything in what he said that you don't already know.

    It'll be sad if this really is Soderberg's final film, though few people actually believe it will be. In my books his record has been slightly patchy, though generally good. And when he is good he is often exceptionally good. But if it turns that 'Candelabra' is, in fact, his final effort, sounds like it was a good one to bow out on.

    Thanks Paul. My own thoughts should be coming up within the next fortnight.