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By GERALD PEARY  |  September 17, 2008

ME AND ORSON WELLES, Richard Linklater’s winning re-creation of the backstage machinations at a 1937 production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar by a 23-year-old pre–Citizen Kane Orson Welles. Linklater’s Welles, played to the hilt by Christian McKay, is a womanizing, terrorizing megalomaniac who also is charming, charismatic, a genius.

On a Toronto street, I stopped the Chicago-based critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, who knew Welles and has written books and essays about him. What were his quick thoughts on the movie? Rosenbaum: “The scene on a park bench where he charms the young man to rejoin his company, that’s Welles. He holding a grudge and getting people fired? That’s not the Welles I knew. He’s such a mythical figure, people invent all kinds of things that had nothing to do with him. But the guy playing Welles is uncanny, getting some of his charm and spirit. So I like the film with certain reservations. I hope it gets distribution, but projects with Orson Welles tend to be cursed.”

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