Saturday, September 06, 2008

Me And Orson Welles

I'm a big fan of radio drama from the 40's and 50's. I even listened enthusiastically to the CBS Radio Mystery Theater's 70's revival of the art form. But, how many people are there like me? 'Me and Orson Welles', directed by Richard Linklater, about the creation and productions of the Mercury Theatre Company, may be historically accurate and realized with assiduous attention to detail, but it's concerned with a figure few people know about today. Well, people know who Orson Welles was, but how many people (today) are fans of his?

Not many under the age of forty have even seen 'Citizen Kane'. We know it's one of the most important films but we don't know why, nor do we care. You have to go to a film school to find kids that have seen this movie and can discuss Welles' work.

'Me and Orson Welles' is currently poking around for a distributor at TIFF. Anne Thompson calls Linklater's movie a 'dive off the deep end' which will only appeal to a 'narrow band of showbizphiles'. On the other hand, Patrick Goldstein, being perhaps obliged to diplomacy having included excerpts from his interview with the film's director in the same write-up, calls 'Me and Orson Welles' "a blast." Goldstein heralds the film as capturing Welles at the height of his career as a "hilariously imperious and mercurial showman." That's a blast? Welles as a mercurial showman?

Christian McKay as Orson Welles

Here's Christian McKay portraying Orson Welles in a scene that simply has no appeal to the general movie-going public. In regard to this movie's bid to gain distribution from a buyer at TIFF Goldstein says, "I can't imagine someone wouldn't want a film that has such winning performances and offers you a front-row seat at one of the great moments in American theater." When was the last time someone said 'I wish they'd make a movie about great moments in American theater, or, I want to see a historical movie with winning performances?' It looks like an excellent movie and I'm sure the performances are wonderful and I look forward to seeing it on disc, but this couldn't possibly make money on the big screen.

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