"Who is the new Orson Welles?" someone asked me after a recent screening of Richard Linklater's Me and Orson Welles (64 screens). Certainly Christian McKay does a superb Welles in that movie, and if anyone wanted to have an Orson Welles-style narrator on a documentary, or a Moby Dick-style cameo in a feature film, McKay's your man. But what about Welles the director? Those are much bigger shoes to fill. Linklater is arguably one of the best American directors working today, but he's very much the opposite of Welles in style; laid-back and loose as compared to Welles' more stylized compositions.

The Coen Brothers (A Serious Man, 152 screens) are as visually formal as Welles, but they lack Welles' showmanship. They prefer to remain mysterious and nerdy and behind the scenes. Werner Herzog (Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, 96 screens) has a very vivid onscreen/offscreen personality like Welles, but is far more reckless and exploratory in his subject matter. John Woo (Red Cliff, 42 screens) has skill, but is a much more humble, gentle soul in life and much more violent onscreen. Lars von Trier (Antichrist, 13 screens) is equally canny at promoting his own legend, but it's arguable as to whether or not the films actually hold up.
categories Columns, Cinematical