David Schwartz invited me to contribute to a year end round-up of the greatest film, tv, YouTube –any kind of moving image — moments of the year.
I picked Christian McKay’s performance as Orson Welles, in Rick Linklater’s Orson Welles and Me. Don’t miss it.
This is an explanation of my choice; feel free to suggest yours in comments.
Seeing Christian McKay’s performance as Orson Welles in Richard Linklater’s film was almost shocking to me. Prior to that time the supreme Welles moment for me was his unforgettable performance as Falstaff — in his inexpressibly beautiful Chimes at Midnight. His conflation of Shakespeare’s two plays, which he directed as well. It was a high point of my Shakespearean experience.
But McCay gives us not the aging Welles of (released in ’65), but the young Welles, at 22, putting his on Broadway. The whole thing is ahectic, thrilling portrait of New York City in the late 30s, as well as a persuasive portrait of Welles manic, chaotic but glorious creative process — and a meditation on the nature of genius.
I’m a big fan of Richard Linklater (see my essay on in the Criterion DVD box set), but this surprises. It’s like nothing he’s done before from After Sunset or is it Before Sunrise (I get them both confused) to the amazing Waking Life.
While I’m not too fond of the Zac Efron ingenue subplot, Orson Welles and Me gives you so much Orson it’s worth the price of too much “Me.”
In case anyone cares it inspired me to write this essay on the ambiguities of genius:.
In which I say: “Linklater has found a British actor, Christian McKay, who
conveys the brusque impatience and urgency of genius convincingly, the blithe and utter self-confidence of it. His performance convinces you that one aspect of genius is never really doubting one’s own genius.”
In Welles case, it had its costs but it was forgivable because he created something immortal and Linklater’s film and Mckay’s performance are fitting tributes.