Nov 12, 2009

Alive and Welles

I just saw a brand new movie with Orson Welles in it. I swear to God: Christian McKay, in the new Richard Linklater movie Me and Orson Welles, is so good as the young Welles it's uncanny, almost occult. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it--Geoffrey Rush's Peter Sellers and Robert Downey's Chaplin were good but they never made you feel, My God, that is the man himself.

The movie as a whole is soft slice of period pie, nothing too special. Through the eyes of a callow, starstruck teen played by Zac Efron, it portrays Welles on the eve of the Mercury's fascist-styled Caesar--arguably a more crucial milestone for him and his theatrical career than the famous voodoo Macbeth or the Blitzstein musical. (It's a rich career, however brief, to have that much to argue about.) There are welcome turns by Claire Danes and Zoe Kazan, and the historical casting is genius top to bottom--you'll have no trouble identifying who's supposed to be Norman Lloyd, John Houseman, Joseph Cotten, etc. And there are a lot of tiny references Welles fans will enjoy (to Chimes at Midnight, Touch of Evil, even The Third Man). But the main reason for any of us to see it is the privilege of spending a few hours in the virtual presence of that booming voice, those cocked eyebrows, that rolling gait and expressive arms. I'm told it will hit theaters Nov. 25.

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