A nameless young character goes into travels to the country, meeting some acquaintances and strangers as well, having banal conversations, dedicating his existence into daily mundane ... See full summary »
Follows tour guide, historian and flâneur Timothy 'Speed' Levitch as he visits the monumentally ignored monuments of America's cities, from the shoe gardens of San Francisco to the luckiest subway grate in New York City.
Timothy 'Speed' Levitch,
John C. McDonnell,
In November 1937, high school student and aspiring thespian Richard Samuels takes a day trip into New York City. There, he meets and begins a casual friendship with Gretta Adler, their friendship based on a shared love and goal of a profession in the creative arts. But also on this trip, Richard stumbles across the Mercury Theatre and meets Orson Welles, who, based on an impromptu audition, offers Richard an acting job as Lucius in his modern retelling of Julius Caesar, which includes such stalwart Mercury Theatre players as Joseph Cotten and George Coulouris. Despite others with official roles as producer John Houseman, this production belongs to Welles, the unofficial/official dictator. In other words, whatever Welles wants, the cast and crew better deliver. These requests include everything, even those of a sexual nature. Welles does not believe in conventions and will do whatever he wants, which includes not having a fixed opening date, although the unofficial opening date is in ... Written by
While the way in which the film shows a sprinkler system being triggered may not be accurate, the incident shown really did occur, and was indeed set off by the Zac Efron character of the Mercury actor who was playing Lucius at the time, Arthur Anderson. Orson Welles himself described the sprinkler incident during the closing credits of the Mercury Theatre radio broadcast of "Treasure Island" the following year, on July 18, 1938:
"First of all, I'd like you to meet [the actor who played] Jim Hawkins, Junior, our leading man at 14 years old. Last season he made a really startling contribution to the stage history of Shakespeare's plays. This was during the course of some experiments with the Mercury Theatre sprinkler system. As a consequence of what must certainly have been extensive research in that field, he caused it to rain, actually to rain, and copiously to rain where in more than 300 years it has never rained in 'Julius Caesar' before. It rained on Brutus, it rained all over Brutus in the forum. I was Brutus, and I ought to know."
"Now, as dramatic criticism, I found this telling, and even final. But as a surprise item in the funeral scene, I can assure you that the unexpected appearance on the stage of so many gallons of real water created in us all, an impression that was almost overwhelming. Our popular leading man says that he did it all with a match. I don't dare think what he'll do when he's old enough to run for president, but meanwhile, no matter what happens to the plumbing, he can always work for the Mercury. As you've probably discovered, he's something more than a very gifted performer, and as I told you, he's something less than 15."
"His name shall not be withheld: I refer to that fine old actor Arthur Anderson." (Actor George Coulouris was credited as "having escaped 'Rainmaker' Anderson" during that incident.)
At the very end of the broadcast credits, a faint crash is heard in the background, and Welles ad libs, "There is at this moment a disturbance in the control room, and if it isn't a tumbrel, it's Arthur Anderson. It's a good thing the program's over." See more »
A common mistake in movies and TV, fire sprinklers are activated individually - a match held to one would only cause that particular sprinkler head to open, and not all of the sprinklers as shown in the movie. See more »
By the year of 1592, Shakespeare was already an actor, and a playwright. Records of how his stage career began have not survived. We do know that in 1594 he joined a theater troupe. Called... anyone remember? Not everyone at once now. The Lord Chamberlain's Men.
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Gilson Lavis is listed as "Drumer" instead of "Drummer". See more »
Breezy, nostalgic celebration of film and theater and one of the most dynamic figures to impact them
The career of Richard Linklater has proved one of the most delightfully eclectic in the film industry, veering between works as diverse as teenage subculture films (Dazed and Confused) to philosophical romances (Before Sunrise) to drug-addled paranoid thrillers (A Scanner Darkly) to mainstream comedies (School of Rock). But even with such a varied body of work, it is difficult to deny Linklater's latest still seeming somewhat of an anomaly: a lighthearted period piece examining the timeless figure of Orson Welles, making his name through a 1930s theater production of Julius Ceasar still seems an odd about face even for such a versatile director. And yet it is somewhat fitting that such a whimsically talented modern director should examine one of cinema's most legendary mavericks as Linklater's latest, Me and Orson Welles is a charming addition to his body of work, a breezy, self- reflexive yet nostalgic celebration of the mediums of performance as experienced alongside one of the most dynamic and influential figures ever to impact them.
The agile script ably captures the conflicting clashes of the behemoth of a personality that was Orson Welles, from the explosive temper tantrums to the slyly manipulative charm to the casual womanizing, painting a vivid (but likely not larger than life) portrait of the man without either romanticizing or demonising him. It is ultimately the presence of the titular character which rescues the film from becoming yet another "cast rehearsing a play" film, as the dynamo of Welles tearing through the film at all the least expected moments creates a sporadic force of havok keeping the film continually off kilter, preventing it from descending into cliché and keeping it consistently interesting as consequence. While the story's lightness of touch does make some of the plot points either overly obvious or unbelievable, a film so unassumingly enjoyable fails to evoke much complaint - whether dabbling in the dramatic or the comedic, Me and Orson Welles remains refreshingly cheerful and earnest, and all the better for it. Completing the package, Linklater's rare tackling of a period piece demonstrates his typically astute ability to capture the feel and flavour of the times, with the earnest ambition of the 1930s well complimented by subtly stylish sets and costumes while simultaneously avoiding beating the audience over the head with more overt details of the time (instead of the potential hackneyed Nazi allusions, Linklater includes merely a brief radio snippet which is quickly cut off, a classy and subtle inclusion).
Undergoing a difficult transition from teenage heartthrob to dramatic lead, Zac Efron gives a surprisingly solid performance as the idealistic young actor swept into the wild world of Welles, convincingly contributing charm, comedy and genuine sympathy to the emotional centerpoint of the film. However, given the title, it isn't difficult to imagine the inevitable highlight of the show, and true enough, as the infamous Welles, British stage actor Christian McKay doesn't so much steal scenes as seize and throttle them, exploding on screen with the same engrossing bluster that only the real Welles himself could conjure up. Blending the conflicting elements of an indisputably difficult character as easily as he nails the trademark voice and appearance, McKay's Welles alternates between devilish charmer and explosive force to be feared, shaking up the film with similar vigour and nuanced genius - one of the most impressive cinematic debuts in recent memory. Claire Danes is also on top form as a good hearted but endlessly ambitious member of Welles' company, and Ben Chaplin and James Tupper are endearing presences as eccentric members of Welles' calamitous company.
As unconventional a project as it may be, Me and Orson Welles remains one of the most unashamedly lighthearted and enjoyable forays into nostalgia in many a year, breezily blending the serious with the silly while never skimping on historical fact. The addition of McKay's brilliantly combustive Welles make the theatrical rehearsal sequences a joy to behold instead of drearily formulaic, making Linklater's latest film a charm to behold for even the most cynical of audiences.
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