Archive for December 10th, 2009

Me and Orson Welles

Me and Orson Welles is full of surprises: I have never seen a Zac Efron film and only know him by reputation, on the evidence of this film he is a good young actor. Christian McKay IS Orson Welles, he manages to combine a perfect  impersonation with a strong acting performance. Director Richard Linklater takes a rare trip out of Texas to make a film unlike anything else he has done before. The last of these points shouldn’t really be a surprise, although common threads run through his films, the films thenselves are still vastly different and always a rewarding experience for the viewer.

Taking place over the week leading up to the opening of Orson Welles’ (Christian McKay) production of Julius Caesar at New York’s Mercury Theatre told from the point of view of Richard (Zac Efron) the theatres newest recruit.  Concentrating on Richards experiences as he interacts with Welles and the other actors.  There is great support from Ben Chaplin and James Tupper as George Couloris and Joseph Cotton respectively (in real life both characters went on to work with Welles in future including on Citizen Kane).  The film also follows Richards relationship with Sonja Jones (Claire Danes) that becomes integral to the plot.  As all this is going on we get to see the development of the production, this is one of the films greatest achievements.  I walked out of the cinema and said “I would have loved to see that production”. 

There is a standout scene where Welles is recording a radio show, he ignores the script and adlibs to the chagrin of the other performers, the astonishment of Richard and the amusement of the films audience.   We also see Welles’ famous womanising and glimpses of his love of magic tricks.  Brilliantly executed the film works as both as a look backstage and a coming of age drama, but more than that fans of cinema get to see the geniuses, the ego and even the cruelty of one of cinemas most enigmatic auteurs.   It is also often very funny.

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