Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Hundreds of Screens: Me and Orson Welles

Though I am loathe to spend a big paragraph merely explaining what I'm about to write about -- that's so Blogging with Training Wheels -- I make an exception.

I never have any time to write anymore which saddens me. I'm behind on reviews, interviews, articles, podcasts (very soon!): Part of this is my fault (procrastination, writer's block, fatigue), part of this is Hollywood's fault (They've never heard of the Gregorian calendar I don't think). Over at Nick's Flick Picks, my dear friend has been sharing his filmgoing diaries from the past decade and though nothing I type here will be its equal, my cameos in those memoirs convinced me that merely narrating my moviegoing adventures without editing might actually be the only way I'll be able to trick myself into confronting a collossal task: Getting through the Christmas glut and living to write about it.

I've been spending my time shuffling between shopping, day jobs, social life holiday business, industry events and movie theaters. First stop last weekend was the Lincoln Plaza which I often avoid because it, like so many arthouse theaters, has screens that aren't substantially larger than the one in my living room. I also avoid because the elderly patrons are quite noisy. They aren't into talking at the screen like moviegoers in my hood but they're most definitely interested in playing Voiceover Man for their confused, inattentive or hard of hearing friends. Plus, they're often fussy about seating arrangements. My mood was instantly lightened when I lined up to buy my tickets to Me and Orson Welles. Almost everyone in the line in front of me said "Broken Embraces". It's such a great feeling to hear people buying tickets en masse to your favorite director's new movie. Even if it's not one you care so much about.

The Movie? A pleasant sit to be sure. Possibly more than that for theater and Old Hollywood lovers. My chief complaint would be the vacuum at the center. I'm talking about the "Me" rather than the "and Orson Welles" in case you hadn't guessed. I know that Zac Efron has ardent admirers and it's possible that he deserves them (this is only the second thing I've seen him in, it's true) but I preferred him in Hairspray where his teen idol celebrity was put to literal use. In this love letter to the theater he's surrounded by actors as talented as Ben Chaplin, Claire Danes and Christian McKay (he of the Oscar buzz) and though Efron never ever comes across as 'not up to the task' he's also not really triumphant ... It reminded me of the lead performances in Away We Go. Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski were perfectly fine in their roles. They just lacked movie star magic so the supporting performers stole it. In other words the 'scale' was off for the big screen. (Even though this screen was tiny. But you know what I'm saying. Don't nitpick!) In happier news, Zac's musical solo near film's end is great and McKay is a ton of fun to watch as the infamously giant ego of stage and screen. I also thought James Tupper made a pretty good Joseph Cotton. Finally, I'm hoping Robert plans to cover the semi-prolific Richard Linklater in his directors of the decade series. This writer/director is hard to pin down, no?

When we were leaving the theater a man handed me this card...


It's looks just like the one Orson Welles gives his actors in the movie. Only they get actual cards with affectionate notes psychological manipulation inside. At first I thought it the strangest most useless promotional item ever. After all, I'd already bought a ticket, I couldn't give it away (it's not an actual card), it's too flimsy to double as a postcard. What is it for?

But here I am photographing it and placing it on the blog and remembering the shift from annoyance (people are always trying to hand you things on the street) to smiling recognition... a piece of paper as movie memorabilia? So, I guess it hit its mark.

Have you seen the movie?

12 comments:

Robert said...

I actually quite like the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas...though it's probably because it's near where I spend most of my time in New York and I come from a small town where you can't see indie movies unless you drive two hours away, and even then it's not guaranteed you'll find what you want.

But I'd like to see Me and Orson Welles!!! I'm especially intrigued by Christian McKay...

reggie said...

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Flosh said...

Seeing it this weekend, most likely. As a true Orson Welles cultist I can't wait.

NicksFlickPicks said...

I just saw it yesterday. Christian McKay doesn't just impersonate Orson Welles, he incarnates him. He isn't just mimicking, he is Orson Welles.


;)

adelutza said...

Not coming soon to a theater near me. We're just catching up with Antichrist here if you can believe it.

Catherine said...

Yep, I went to see it Tuesday evening. Afterwards, talking with my sister, we found we both had the exact same reaction; that it was an extremely pleasant, thoroughly watchable movie, nothing spectacular but a film we were very happy to be sitting in and watching on a blustery December evening. Which sounds kind of benign, but is true. I especially enjoyed the Nic Ede's costuming - those autumnal-coloured plaid jackets ZEfron was huddled in looked so comfy!

Question for Orson Welles buffs: was Micheál Mac Liammhóir ever in the US with Welles around this period? I'd have liked to see somebody try to play him, although I really, really liked Ben Chaplin's George Coulouris.

Dom said...

You know, this sounds EXACTLY like the kind of movie I'm in the mood for today. Off to the Lincoln Plaza!

(I actually quite like that cinema, though I agree about noisy, elderly patrons. Trick is to sit in the first three rows and then it's like you're in there alone and the small screen takes up much more importance. It's what I did when I saw An Education.)

GayAsXmas said...

I would actually disagree with you about Maya Rudolph in Away We Go. I thought the bigger name supporting characters all wildly over-acted (some of them more entertainingly then others), and it was actually Rudolph who nailed her character with grace and genuine emotion.

gabrieloak said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gabrieloak said...

I had first seen this movie on a huge screen at the Toronto film festival. So when I was in New York to see Welles again I had to choose between my two least favorite theaters in NYC--the Angelika and the Lincoln Plaza. I chose the Angelika over LP and I'm glad I did. The audience was extremely well-behaved. I hate the screens at the Lincoln Plaza and the sight lines.

I do agree with you that Zak was a little bland as the Me in the movie. But he does have movie-star looks. And seeing the film a second time, I was impressed by the recreation of the Welles production and the vignette in the radio studio. Plus all the parts of the film devoted to the various people involved in the production, like the diva actress and the fellow who worked on the sets
The movie did have the feel of British studio comedy from the past.

I think McKay is wonderful in this movie and I think Danes is very good, too, and we all know she can be annoying. Also liked James Tupper and Ben Chaplin.

This is a departure for Linklater. In an interview on the Guardian UK web site he says he'd like to direct a musical. I would love to see that. (Though School of Rock was kind of like a musical).

On another note, I thought Rudolph gave a fine performance in Away We Go, so much more convincing that her fellow lead.

Glenn said...

The title annoys me. Shouldn't it be Orson Welles and I?

kin said...

Well, it could be Orson Welles and me. As in "this post is about Orson Welles and me". Putting me first is egotistical, but not necessarily grammatically incorrect.