movie review: mank

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

this is an article "mank" by marc primo.

release date: 13 november 2020 (usa)
director: david fincher
language: english
production companies: netflix international pictures
producers: ceán chaffin, eric roth, douglas urbanski


This is an article “Mank” by Marc Primo

Release date: 13 November 2020 (USA)

Director: David Fincher

Language: English

Production Companies: Netflix International Pictures

Producers: Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth, Douglas Urbanski


For those who think they know everything about Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, considered to be one of the best American films ever made, this faithful take on the life and struggles of screenwriter and co-author of the classic Herman J. Mankiewicz (aka Mank) offers fans more insight on how the film was created with all its creators egos in the spotlight.

In 1941, Citizen Kane won an Academy Award for Best Picture with both Welles and Mank both deciding not to attend the ceremonies which drew jeers from attendees with every subsequent nomination. The public’s love-hate sentiment towards the film is carried flawlessly by director David Fincher as he tells the tale of Mank’s personal fall while penning the script, often with a cloud of awkward collaboration with Welles.

Oscar winner Gary Oldman returns to top form in Mank after taking on equally huge roles as Winston Churchill in 2017’s Darkest Hour, seemingly all too familiar with personas that become profound when their thoughts are conveniently mixed with appetites and alcohol.

However, more than centering on Mank, the film also pays respect to Citizen Kane’s legendary status even to this day. The great reshoot of the first scene with Kane and the snowglobe, muttering his last word “Rosebud”, will send shivers down any true fan’s spine as it efficiently echoes ghosts of the past. Shot entirely in black and white, it’s easy to take in and link the films together despite the chronological order jumping to and fro.

Fincher opens up the film as an injured Mank heads to Victorville in 1940 as he was commissioned to write the script for Welles’ debut feature. Throughout the film, we are taken to flashbacks?—?from Mank’s car crash to when American writer and director Charles Davies Lederer arrives at Paramount Studios in 1930 with Mank’s telegraph in hand, encouraging him to continue his writing.

What audiences can really appreciate is how the film sets the myths surrounding it straight, reliving how Mank would vomit during dinner, offend other guests, yet eventually establish the ‘screwball comedy’ genre we all know today. We then begin to follow Mank’s relationship with actress Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried) and ride along with the funny lines that ultimately transformed San Simeon into Xanadu and American newspaper publisher and businessman William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance) into Charles Foster Kane.

Perhaps the main question everyone wants to ask is just how big was Mank’s contribution to writing Citizen Kane. Did Welles reshape Mank’s drafts and make it his own, as how previous discussions in The New Yorker’s 1971 piece Raising Kane and Robert Carringer’s 1985 book The Making of Citizen Kane claim?

After all these years, it would be easy to dismiss any care as to what the real story behind the creation of the film is but Mank is not at all aiming to refute the stronghold that Citizen Kane has over pop culture. Instead, it is a tribute complete with the nostalgia, conspiracies, and drama all packed into one well-told tale that pursues another that unfolds relentlessly.




Submitted: December 31, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Marc Primo Reviews. All rights reserved.

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