Richard Linklater’s Me And Orson Welles (or, MAOW) opens this Thanksgiving weekend in select cities. It will expand nationwide through December. The film (which, full disclosure, Cinetic has been involved with since its inception) premiered at the 2008 Toronto Film Festival, and waiting until the holiday season 2009 makes a lot of sense. I rewatched the film on Monday night at the Cinema Society’s New York premiere, which was attended by Linklater with stars Zac Efron, Claire Danes, and an awards-worthy Christian McKay. What occurred to me for the first time on Monday was that Me And Orson Welles truly is a family arthouse film. It’s the kind of movie you can take your parents to see over the holidays, or the kind of movie that parents of teenagers can feel comfortable watching wit their kids.
It’s almost as if this was the movie made precisely for those fans of Efron’s High School Musical, who have grown up a little and ready for something smarter. Or, it’s the kind of independently-made film that older audiences can feel safe with seeing; a ride back to 1930s New York City, before WWII. Few working directors today love the history of cinema more than Richard Linklater, and it shows in the way this film feels like it lives in the era of Frank Capra or William Wyler. In other words, a style of filmmaking that was completely inverted when Welles himself would make Citizen Kane just a few years after this story takes place. Linklater can change up styles so much, in such a deliberate and focused manner, it’s no doubt that he’s one of the most unpredictable artists out there. Just like Welles.