Wednesday at the Traverse City Film Festival: “Me and Orson Welles” and “Heartbreaker”

“Me and Orson Welles”: I decided that I simply could not face danger, death, or politics so soon after getting out of bed. I wanted to begin this year’s film festival morning experience on a light, fun and positive note. So my first movie of the 6thAnnual Traverse City Film Festival: The 9:30 a.m. showing of “ Me and Orson Welles” directed by Richard Linklater. It was lovely to be immersed in the architecture, costumes, atmosphere and music of 1930’s Manhattan. And the film is worth seeing if only to gaze into the dreamy blue eyes and chiseled profile of Zac Efron. For some reason, I didn’t buy the chemistry between Claire Danes and Efron. But I loved the camaraderie of this unlikely cast trying to make it big on Broadway. At times, since the movie is centered on Welles’ play based on Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” and so much of it takes place inside the famous Mercury theatre, it often seemed more like a play than a film. The actor who played the young Orson Welles, Christian McKay, gave a stellar portrayal of the egomaniacal director who seeks perfection and power in everything he touches. The movie forces you to come to terms with the poisonous aspects of talent, brilliance, and fame. Does the young actor, Richard, played by Zac Efron get the part he wants, and get the girl, too? I’m not telling. But the ending left me with a sense of something lacking. Polite applause and mixed reviews from movie-goers as they walked out of the theater.
Next up: the noon showing of “Heartbreaker” ( “L’Arnacoeur”, French, with English subtitles) directed by Pascal Chaumeil, also at Lars Hockstad. The lines were longer and the race to get a good seat was more intense than the early morning show. I wasn’t sure what to expect, since the description sounded a bit like slapstick comedy. There are hilarious scenes involving perfectly ridiculous situations. But despite the unlikely plot, I was totally absorbed in this tale of a trio of entrepreneurs whose business is to break up couples. The film also takes you to some of the most beautiful spots along the Riviera, and the majority of the movie takes place in Monte Carlo. The sexy French actor Romaine Duris is the lead of this romantic comedy, and his love interest is the gorgeous French actress, Julie Ferrier. The audience laughed out loud, hooting and hollering with wild abandon at several points, especially during one hysterical sex scene in which one actor’s libido can only be controlled by being knocked unconscious! It’s an unlikely love affair. …… I’ll try not to give it away. But one of the most memorable scenes involves the two lead characters, both French, trying to dance the way Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey did in “Dirty Dancing.” Thunderous applause at the end of the flick. Many people I talked with as I rode the shuttle back to the State Theater said it was one of their favorite movies they’d seen so far this year. In the next blog: a more somber movie, “The Tillman Story.”

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2 thoughts on “Wednesday at the Traverse City Film Festival: “Me and Orson Welles” and “Heartbreaker””

  1. Totally agree with you about “Heartbreakers!” I laughed so hard. It reminded me of the French version of “Man with One Red Shoe”–“Le Grand Blond Avec Une Chaussure Noire.” Haven’t seen “Me and Orson Welles yet”–but I will tell you that I had dinner with Larry Brand the first night of TCFF—Larry is the writer and director of the movie “Christina” that premiered at the State Theatre last week and he’s on the TCFF fiction committee—and he was full of stories about having worked for Orson Welles as a young man starting out in the business. Rebecca Reynolds was with us—she and her husband produced “Christina” and she’s also on the TCFF fiction committee, and it turns out she’d worked for John Houseman!

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