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Netflix – On Demand – Documentary

The prolific British documentary filmmaker Tony Palmer (born 1941), also a theater and opera director, devoted a large part of his filmography to classical and contemporary art music: his first musical in 1967 was dedicated to Benjamin Britten; Thirty years later, he produced a wonderful portrait of John Adams, not forgetting Salzburg Festival (2006), a somewhat disturbing painting of a popular summer event.

But Palmer was also interested in folk music. In 1971, he portrayed British drummer Ginger Baker and signed with Frank Zappa 200 motelswhich he describes as Surreal documentary. In 1972, Leonard Cohen commissioned him with a movie, Leonard Cohen, Like a Bird on a Wire. From 1976 to 1980, Tony Palmer produced for the BBC a seventeen-part documentary mural dedicated to pop music, All you need is love. folk music story.

His film dedicated to the kitsch film Liberace (1919-1987), World of Liberace (World of Liberace1972), now available on Netflix in a subtitled version and reworked in 2012. This is perhaps the best picture of a pianist with his fingers at a slick speed as fiercely, the Las Vegas star or New York’s highest-paid Radio City Hall of its time.

A child prodigy born Vladzio Valentino Libras to a mother of Polish descent and father of Italian descent, Liberace began his career as a classical pianist. Also a jazz pianist, super clubAnd the nightclub and even the strip club (which pays the most), decided to devote himself to the popular repertoire with a little classic – “Without boring corridors”He will say… “Liberace is not like that [Arthur] Rubinstein. But Rubinstein isn’t Liberace either.”One reviewer wrote.

broke down

Palmer lets Liberace talk about a monologue while the camera shoots a tour of his Los Angeles and Palm Springs homes, whose lavish decor transcends the idea of ​​bad taste (despite antique furniture and precious antiques), and of its cars (including the famous rhinestone-coated rolls). “The difference between young boys and men is the size of their toys.”And the Refers to the formula that Liberace framed.

Lee elaborates on her massive rhinestone and diamond wardrobe as everything appears in three sizes: “Thin, fat and impossible!” » But, at the end of the sentence, a crack appears in this function of the strict maximum: “Perhaps the reason I have so many clothes is that as a child I had to dress my older brother George…” During another sequence, we see an author Liberace cooks! (1970, out of print), book described as “Great cooking recipes” (with slices of salami in a bouquet and macaroons studded with artificial sugar stones), cooking (his other passion) and making lasagna.

His person expresses both naivety, kindness, and a strong dose of self-loathing.

Liberace smiles with his mouth as white as the keys to the keyboard instruments in his collection – including a rare piano organ, choir piano and organist – which he plays in turn. His person expresses both naivety, kindness, and a strong dose of self-loathing. So that it is difficult to understand to what degree one should take his observations into account. In any case, Palmer’s film did not cast a cynical look at Liberace.

Cumbersome excuses

But behind these compound mines, one feels a menacing abyss. It hurts to see this “My mother’s son”And the as seenAnd the He strives to conceal his illustrious homosexuality (he will deny it to the end) and devise arduous pretexts for his celibacy: he must not shock or disappoint the mature ladies who make up his audience. The same people who knew that AIDS was the cause of the death of their idol in 1987.

the film Behind the lights (“My life with Liberace”, 2013), by Steven Soderbergh, with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon (who plays Scott Thorson, the musician’s lover), decried the lesser known side of the character. What happens in the bathroom all the marbles and mirrors is not quite, in the movie, what Liberace says in the Tony Palmer documentary…

In this regard, the documentary filmmaker has publicly announced it, while he is aware of it “Soderbergh is a very good director and the film was directed with great skill”did not agree with many of his distortions of the truth. Liberace has never appeared on stage like Michael Douglas did.And the Palmer, in July 2013, told the British site digital spy. He rarely used that whirlpool, and above all, Liberace was a good guy, really and honestly. This movie did him the worst service. »

“The World of Liberace”, a documentary by Tony Palmer (EU, 1972, 75 min).

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