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Annette Kellerman hangs with ME & ORSON WELLES... really!!!

Hello again! It's Annette Kellerman here with another short review from the South by Southwest Film Festival. Yesterday I managed to drag myself out of bed following the magnificent late-night screening of Drag Me To Hell in order to attend the early-ish "Super Secret Screening" at the Paramount Theater. I had heard a few rumors as to what we might be viewing and was very pleased to find out we were indeed getting to see an early screening of Richard Linklater's ME AND ORSON WELLES. ME AND ORSON WELLES The film follows young Richard Samuels, a high school student who has aspirations to make it as an actor in 1937 New York City. On one fateful day while playing hooky from school, Richard happens upon the newly minted Mercury Theater as its cast and crew are celebrating the erection of the establishment's new sign on the front of the building. As luck would have it, this theater troupe are the denizens of Orson Welles, brought together for the notorious actor/director's latest Broadway effort- a reenvisioned version of the classic Julius Caesar in modern dress. With some ingenuity and a bit of exaggeration, young Richard catches the eye of the formidable Welles and is cast on the spot as Lucius. Throughout the rest of the film, the audience is taken on Richard's journey as he makes his stage debut and experiences first-hand the great talent and sometimes not very noble actions of the legendary Orson Welles. I really liked the film. The whole aesthetic of late 30's NYC is perfectly captured in every scene. While director Richard Linklater adequately demonstrated he could do a period piece with The Newton Boys, that film unfortunately failed to fully connect with its audience. In Me and Orson Welles, Linklater again completely nails the look and feel of this beautiful era, but moreover, the perfectly captured time period serves as the beautiful canvas on which the director tells his compelling story. Christian McKay as Orson Welles is almost scary good as the infamous impresario. He somehow manages to embody Welles without seeming like he's doing an impression. His performance conveys the erratic delight Welles found in his work, but also the seriousness in which he approached all of his projects. Claire Danes as the theater manager Sonja Jones delivers some of her best work I've seen in a long time. She is luminescent and charming as the gal who shows young Richard the ropes in more ways than one. Though her character will clearly do whatever it takes to further her career in the entertainment industry, Danes manages to imbue some heart in a role that may have otherwise just been relegated to the heartless bitch category. As the rookie Richard, Zack Efron really surprised me. Though you'd have to live under a rock to not be familiar with the heartthrob, I haven't been in his demographic for quite a while and haven't really seen much of his work. In this film, he gives a thoughtful, understated performance that really captures the character's naivety without making him seem like a total doofus. While he still gets to display some of the musical talents that landed him on the map in the first place, I was pleasantly surprised to discover Efron's more serious side, and admit that I don't have to be a 13 year old to see this kid's potential anymore. I think Me and Orson Welles will be released in October, so most of you will have the opportunity to check it out then. It is a really beautiful period piece with a unique story told in the context of the early success of one of the great auteurs. I hope to check in later with more from SXSW. Until then, Annette Kellerman

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