"Beyond the Candelabra" is a tour de force of acting, directing, art direction, cinematography and seamless digital effects. I remember working in Television and being looked down upon since I worked in a shabby mass entertainment art form.
I will now argue the roles are reversed.
The black t-shirt, two-day stubble iPhone crowd at the studios rejected this film's economic model, I'm sure because it's way too gay for mass consumption. Uh oh...what just happened there? Who's the dumbed-down, "safe" medium now? It's pretty hard to get a "film" made now unless there are people in tight suits blowing shit up in it.
Which brings me to the Oscars. I think I just saw five performances that would make best supporting actor, best supporting actress and best actor in any other year. Alas, this was not a real "film" even though it was shown at Cannes with glowing reviews.I would argue that the coveted, prestigious Oscar either needs to get bigger, or be delegated to a medium that is having it's lines blurred out of existence.
The majors probably not care if they ever make art again, especially since they are part of the corporate Golem now, but it's dangerous to institutionalize risk-averse film making in an industry that exploits the passions of artists. This film was made by artists(including Jerry Weintraub, the producer) who didn't give a shit what anybody thought: they saw a good story and told it.
Douglas is fucking amazing: fearless and committed to showing us this complex egomaniac with a tender side. Damon is the same; committed and incredibly vulnerable. It's really an old-fashioned love story, and an oddly-old-fashioned movie in some ways.
Rob Lowe almost steals the movie as the reptilian plastic surgeon who lives in a drugged and drunken haze. All of the supporting cast are great; Scott Bakula, Dan Akroyd, and Paul Reiser. Debbie Reynolds was so good as Liberace's mom, I didn't know it was her until the end credits.
All of the tech credits are nearly flawless; they should just give them the Emmys now. The pieces with Liberace playing piano are so good I didn't wonder until later how they did it.
All this from a director/cinematographer who's walking away from the industry; maybe that's what the industry needs. So sad: big screen for teenage popcorn fodder, small screen for art. You heard it here, first. Maybe.