Me and Orson Welles (2008)

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Released 1-Dec-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Deleted Scenes
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 108:59 (Case: 110)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (88:35) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Richard Linklater
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Zac Efron
Claire Danes
Christian McKay
Ben Chaplin
Zoe Kazan
Eddie Marsan
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Michael J. McEvoy


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Back in 1937, Orson Welles was certainly known in New York theatrical circles but little known outside of that. He was 22 at the time and after resigning from the theatrical company he had been part of he created his own theatre company, The Mercury Theatre, and set about staging a radically edited and reset to modern Germany version of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. This film, which is based on a novel, tells a fictionalised story based on the real events which occurred during the setting up of The Mercury Theatre and the staging of Julius Caesar. That opening play was a triumph for Orson Welles setting him on the path to stardom which continued the next year with his famous (infamous?) radio version of War of the Worlds and then on to his film starring and directing career.

     The more fictional part of the story focuses on a young teenager who is visiting New York from the suburbs, Richard Samuels (Zac Efron). After meeting a young girl, Greta (Zoe Kazan), in a music shop, he runs into the Mercury Theatre players outside the theatre and manages to impress Orson Welles (Christian McKay) so much that he offers him a part in the play. Richard, who is an aspiring actor, quickly accepts and gets involved in the rehearsals leading up to the opening night, forming a relationship with Welles and his assistant Sonja Jones (Claire Danes) along the way. The company features actors who would go on to star in Welles' later films like Citizen Kane, including Joseph Cotton and George Coulouris. The focus of the film is on the play itself and also on the three way relationship between Richard, Welles & Sonja.

     This film is a fascinating glimpse into not only the life, style and personality of Welles but also into the theatre at the time and generally. It is a real shame that this film did not do very well at the box office (less than $5 million globally) as it is a high quality movie, entertaining, interesting and well acted. McKay is incredibly good as Welles and has been nominated for and won a number of acting awards. According to informed sources such as one of the Mercury Theatre players featured in the extras, his performance is very true to Welles. The rest of the cast is also good, although Efron doesn't feel quite right as Samuels (although he doesn't disgrace himself either). The cast also includes Eddie Marsan as the theatre manager and partner of Welles, John Houseman and Ben Chaplin as George Coulouris. The film was directed by the eclectic Richard Linklater.

     Fans of good cinema or those interested in the theatre should definitely seek this film out. You will certainly find it worthwhile.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The video quality is very good, although not without issue. The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio which is disappointingly not the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. I don't know if it is cropped or open matte, however, I did not notice any obvious cropping, so it may be open matte. It is 16x9 enhanced widescreen.

     The picture was clear and sharp throughout. Shadow detail is quite good. There were some minor MPEG artefacts during motion. The colour was very good showing of the sepia tones of the film. Other artefacts included some minor edge enhancement and a little aliasing such as at 7:05.

     There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired which are clear and easy to read.

     There is a layer change at 88:35 which was not noticeable during playback.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio quality is very good but this is not a film to show off your home cinema with. This DVDs contain two audio options, a English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s.

     Dialogue was clear and easy to understand throughout. The score consists of jazz and popular music of the day and is very suitable for the film. The surround speakers were used mostly for music and some ambient noise. The subwoofer was used mostly for music support.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Some quality stuff.

Menu

     The menu was simple including music and no motion.

Deleted Scenes (13:07)

     Annoyingly these deleted scenes are at the right aspect ratio. There is some worthwhile stuff here including more character interaction and more scenes from the play, which are certainly worth seeing.

Interview with original Mercury Theatre player, Norman Lloyd & Christian McKay (27:10)

     A discussion with a moderator which focuses on Lloyd and his anecdotes and reminiscences. Some are quite interesting and provide some clarity around fact vs. fiction but they probably drag on a bit too long at times. He also talks about his view of the film.

Trailer (2:01)

Madman Propaganda

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There is a Region 1 version, and it seems to include some extra featurettes but not the lengthy interview. I cannot find details about the aspect ratio of the Region 1 version, so as it stands it is a draw.

Summary

     An interesting and entertaining film about Orson Welles and his early theatre successes.

     The video quality is very good. The audio quality is very good. The extras are few in number but good quality.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output
DisplayLG Scarlet 42LG61YD 106cm Full HD LCD. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into BD player. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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