Mank

2020

Action / Biography / Comedy / Drama

31
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 83%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 61%
IMDb Rating 7.1 10 36792

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
December 04, 2020 at 11:53 AM

Director

Cast

Amanda Seyfried as Marion Davies
Lily Collins as Rita Alexander
Gary Oldman as Herman Mankiewicz
Tom Burke as Orson Welles
720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
1.19 GB
1280*576
English 2.0
R
24 fps
2 hr 12 min
P/S 8 / 56
2.45 GB
1920*864
English 5.1
R
24 fps
2 hr 12 min
P/S 12 / 83

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by ceidt 9 / 10

A Story about Story...and Politics

My favorite film of the year is one I'm biased to choose.

Let me tell you about my bias. If I go to a new film directed by one of my favorite directors, I go in having a great amount of trust. I mean, I feel safe. What I know, given to me by my trust, allows all other expectations to wait for me elsewhere while I truly live in-the-moment for the duration of the experience. I'm not always sitting down for a piece of entertainment, although one can always hope, as this should be the least of expectations. I'm not always hoping to enjoy what I'm about to watch, though. But when I sit down for a David Fincher movie, who is the finest director working today, there is no safety (this is "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" director). Where I trust him...is knowing that nobody else could do it better.

My bias here...with "Mank"...has me very conflicted. Not only is it masterful movie making, but the story elements touch on politics and religion in such a manner that the writing feels like it's speaking just to me (these are, after all, two fascinating topics to the writer you're now reading). And not only that, but he's doing so in a charming classic-styled way that you'd see in movies like "Sunset Boulevard" (which is also about "old Hollywood"), which is to say not only are you being told stories in a lovingly entertaining way, but it's as if an old friend is using his grand dialect that friends of his describe as an art form. Gary Oldman fills this position splendidly as Mank himself surely did.

Now...is "Mank" that great? Or...am I just biased?

Is "Citizen Kane" required viewing? Citizen "Mank" serves not as a prequel, but more as a spiritual remake to the RKO Pictures classic. Let me offer some brutal honesty, here: I don't care about "casual audiences." Movies should be made for movie lovers (music seems made for specific fans as well), and I have little patience for people who choose to "Netflix n chill" (okay, I'm guilty here) or, worse, just put a movie on as a preventative measure against feeling lonely without background noise. Gotta say, on that note, "Mank" would be a pretty lovely radio show.

These times, they are a-changin'. I'm talkin' new Hollywood. I'm talkin' "old" Hollywood. "Mank" is a fast-talking charmer of the sort you would find commonplace in a good "classics" section organized by Netflix IF Netflix ever put such a worthy effort into showing their viewers real movies (Turner Classic Movies does a better job on HBO Max, and it's still pitiful). It's a sad world they've created when a David Fincher movie can't stay in the top 10 list on Netflix (it dropped off after day one) seemingly because of a lack of color.

Simply put, David Fincher (no stranger to biopics, he's the director of "The Social Network," and if I may call it a biopic, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button") saw the future when he imagined the power of Netflix. The entertainment giant backed him for a political satire called "House of Cards," making content produced by Netflix a force to be reckoned with. Now, they're almost killing themselves with such an overwhelming output that their own movies are easily lost in the shuffle (and is it just me, or does everything, even a 3 1/2 hour Scorsese picture, feel "made-for-tv?"). David Fincher (who also directed "Se7en" and "Zodiac") came back with another show for Netflix that he enjoyed directing called "Mindhunter," which is another brilliant concept, endlessly fascinating, but a Season 3 isn't even promised or guaranteed. Contracts no longer exist for it.

Now, with a big middle finger to Hollywood itself, Fincher is using his late father's script (surely a passion project) to show how easily Hollywood was and can be changed with his first-ever straight-to-the-small-screen film, "Mank." (His last effort was the anti-love story about two narcissists who get stuck in marriage by politics, "Gone Girl") This one, like his Netflix shows, is also centered by politics.

Set in the aftermath of the depression, the brutality of the affects is background for this picture. Hollywood writers, however, are making great money for people to spend their very hard-earned nickels and quarters on. The transition to "talkies" has been made, after all, so "anyone who can put three words together" is being called upon. Our main character, Mank, a screenwriter for the movies (he claims to be washed-up, no longer talented enough to do better than movies), has insight into the propaganda that became a common practice for Hollywood directors (and even more so for foreign film people, especially in Germany where their people would believe anything that was repeated enough, not unlike our red-hat-wearing fellow citizens these past four years). The propaganda of the day is vital to the style of picture "Citizen Kane" became, which is the film Orson Welles hired Mank to write about the real-life newspaper tycoon, William Hearst (not exactly a man who would gag on a silver spoon). "Citizen Kane" became famous for the multi-perspectives and fancy camera work mixed with quick-cuts and invisible special effects all working together to create some of the greatest story-telling techniques ever that would revolutionize Hollywood...but what also invests people into the world of "Citizen Kane" is the believable "newsreel"-style footage that begins the 1941 picture that is known to be "perfect," a very rare label appropriate for anything on film. Newsreel footage, shown here to be inspired by real "fake news." Remember, Orson Welles was no stranger to using realism to sell his product. This is the same man who made headlines for a science-fiction radio play ("War of the Worlds") that literally frightened listeners into believing aliens had invaded Earth (I'm unclear if this was literally literal, but I have seen the headlines, whether they were "fake news" or not).

Herman J. Mankiewicz, or "Mank," is the writer behind the show, a credit that also went to the infamous Orson Welles for the sole Academy Award the film won (Academy voters were apparently unaware of the legacy the picture would have). Welles, who directed "Kane" and hired Mank to write it. "Mank," as told by Jack Fincher (again, David's father), seeks to deny Welles this credit, rejecting any chance for a "love letter" to the film or Hollywood (Welles was decidedly anti-Hollywood anyway, described here as an "outsider"), but more like a warning not to believe everything we see and hear (always good advice, but be wary of people who tell you not to believe ANYthing you see and hear). In one atmospheric scene of the Fincher film, we're on a beach listening to radio. An interviewee is declaring her stance on exactly why she's voting Republican in the next election, complete with a story of her own victimhood. Our main character and his lovely date then suddenly recognize the voice of said Republican voter (no doubt she could now be considered a method actor as it seems unlikely she would actually be voting for the "socialist" on the Democrat ticket). She's an actress, not just a voter, and nothing of the sort she claimed to be. "I'd recognize that voice anywhere," says Mank, listening to the sorry voice of America that is as fake as the character she's playing.

Upton Sinclair (surprisingly played by...Bill Nye?) loses the election in 1934, believing the "phony newsreels" to be the fatal blows to his campaign. Mank, a fan, blames FDR, reminding us of the "hero" that would soon come to the rescue (a man who actually forced corporations and churches into anti-socialist efforts, bringing us to the divided states of America we see today, which is sadly not an irrelevant fact pertaining to this film...especially considering corporations have nearly destroyed today's Hollywood...and thanks to this virus, we're getting an advanced look at what could become of movie theaters).

The film is presented in a glorious 4K version, and a color version doesn't even exist. This is meant to not only show the 1930s, but feel like a film from the era, too. The soundtrack is complete with the sounds of film scratches and audio flaws, and the picture itself is marked-up with what characters in "Fight Club" (another Fincher picture) called "cigarette burns." "Mank" will be remembered as one of Fincher's less accessible films (people are avoiding this not only because of a lack of color, but it is quite the "talkie"), made for writers more than cinephiles (which I wish were given more attention, although "old Hollywood" is given screen time even though it feels like less than a cameo). I kept waiting for visual sequences a la David Fincher prior, almost forgetting that the style of the film itself was presenting to me a visual feast. Every frame of a Fincher picture a painting. Each is carefully crafted (he normally certainly pays his dues to the auteur of "pure cinema," Alfred Hitchcock), and yet it's not unusual for his scripts to keep our eyes glued to the screen. It is written for political junkies as well, sure, but ultimately this is a story about story. Story itself is used to tell about story itself. Where do stories come from? That's THE question this flick answers using one of the best movies of all time.

Just don't ask about "Rosebud."

Reviewed by cherold 4 / 10

Mank is the movie Orson Welles would have made if he had absolutely nothing to say

Mank is a movie aimed squarely at film buffs that tells the story of the writing of Citizen Kane. I am a film buff. I love Citizen Kane. I am this movie's target audience. It is bad as a movie, and worse as a movie eager to be compared with the works of Orson Welles.

In the film, Gary Oldman plays alcoholic scriptwriter Herman Mankiewicz, who holes up in the middle of nowhere with a broken leg and the assignment to write a full script in a month. He bases the script on the life of powerful millionaire William Randolph Hearst. In flashbacks, we see Mank's dissolute life as a screenwriter, drunk, and witticism machine, as well as his friendship with Hearst's mistress, Marion Davies.

1. Mank as a movie

I want to take about Mank's failures as a film for film buffs and it's failures as Welles-lite, but I don't want that to get in the way of the most important point, which is that this movie is simply dull. Oldham is persuasive as Mank, but the character is like one played by Thomas Mitchell in old 40s movie; a side character whose witticisms are fun but never make you want to find out what makes him tick.

The alcoholic writer isn't an inherently uninteresting subject, but it's also not an inherently interesting one, and the movie doesn't give us any particular reason to care about Mank. The flashbacks are sometimes interesting and sometimes not, but in neither case do they change the movie from basically being a guy in a house typing and getting blackout drunk. There is nothing within the movie that makes you curious about the characters or the situation - the only thing that kept me watching was curiosity about Citizen Kane, and if I'd never seen that movie I wouldn't have finished this one. The acting is good, and Amanda Seyfried is actually exceptionally good as Davies, but there's really not much to this at all. It doesn't pull you in at the start, and the end feels as meh as the rest of it.

2. Mank as a film buff movie

The best thing about Mank is the gorgeous black-and-white cinematography, which does a dead-on impression of Greg Toland's work in Citizen Kane, down to emulating specific scenes. Set and costume design are also first-rate.

But as behind-the-scenes look into Citizen Kane the movie is a failure. One thing I wanted to know was why, if Mank was friends with Hearst and with Davies, he turned on them so savagely.

Some say that the treatment of Davies was the thing that most harmed Kane most of all. True, Not only was it reportedly the main reason Hearst wanted to destroy the movie, but Davies, a talented light comedian pushed into inappropriate roles by her sugar daddy, was charming and well-liked (which Seyfried captures wonderfully) and threw big Hollywood parties and because of that, Hollywood would not rally around Kane as Hearst attacked it. Even Welles admitted, years later, that he had been unfair to Davies.

So why did Mank trash her? The movie offers a simplistic answer involving Upton Sinclair that doesn't make much sense and, when I researched it, isn't remotely what happened. There is no thoughtful attempt to consider why a writer would use his friends as grist for the mill, even though other writers have successfully looked at the very subject without reducing it all to petty, self-righteous vengeance.

The movie also falls onto the long-exploded Pauline Kael side of the who-wrote-Kane debate, suggesting Welles did pretty much nothing on the script. A little research shows scholars have conclusively refuted this (one of the top of the "most helpful" IMDB user reviews gives a good overview of this).

The only reason I kept with this movie was for the real-life story that it couldn't bother to tell.

3. Mank vs. Orson Welles

By making a movie about Citizen Kane, and making it look just like Citizen Kane, director David Fincher would seem to be *daring* people to compare his work with Welles. But it falls short of Welles work in every non-superficial way.

Welles was certainly a big fan of flashy cinematography. He could be gimmicky. But there was always intent to it. Gimmicks were always both "oh, cool!" and "look how that emphasizes the point he's making in a fresh way."

Beyond the flash, Welles was a filmmaker who never gave you all the answers. He gave you clues. Citizen Kane is about the search for Rosebud, but once you know what it is, you still don't know Kane. It's another clue, but it's up to the viewer to decide how to sort these clues. Welles gave you jigsaw puzzles with some pieces missing and some extra pieces. It was true of Kane and pretty much everything he did through his final film, The Other Side of the Wind. Welles did not consider people explicable. They lie about their motives to others and themselves, they change from moment to moment and year to year. It is the complexity, not the cinematographic tricks, that make Welles one of history's greatest filmmakers.

But Fincher's Mank isn't complex at all. His story arc is straightforward. He's a brilliant drunk. His motives are simplistic. He's self-destructive in a predictable fashion. Like all of us he has his good points and his bad points, moments of spite and moments of grace, but then, so does every character in a Hallmark movie.

And the gimmicks in Mank are just gimmicks. If you know Kane's opening scene you'll recognize the falling whisky glass as a callback, but what does it say? Not a thing. Not. One. Single. Thing.

Mank is a dull, unimaginative film that is infuriating because it has so many of the hallmarks of a good one. That makes it feel like a cheat. I regret watching it, and recommend everyone skip it.

Reviewed by secondtake 6 / 10

Sadly overwrought and underwhelmed

Mank (2020)

The movie that everyone wants to like. But why?

Oh, Gary Oldman as Mankewitz is rather terrific. And the subject matter should hold water, concerning William Randolf Hearst and that 1930s world of excess, not to mention Orson Welles and that obvious Citizen Kane connection.

But there are so many scenes where the writer is straining to make sure the audience is keeping up with things, for example giving us first names (and variations on first names) to clue us in on who is who. The strain of having to inform the audience chokes the intended authenticity. The scene early on where some screenwriters (including Ben Hecht) are chatting about screenplays and ideas is so forced it's embarrassing-especially since it's about screenwriting.

The movie has its beauty, for sure, filmed in greyish black and white that is a softened, more detailed version of classic Hollywood. Films from the time it is set, mid-1930s to 1940, are noticably "harder" in tonality, meaning deeper blacks and more overall contrast. Citizen Kane is a prime example. It's worth noting that the photography for "Mank" is generally very poised and luminous, lots of backlighting and delineated grey scales, not much like the photography in Kane.

Now you might expect the film to grow into its own vocabulary, to have a style of its own whatever the borrowings of its substance. But no, the script is stubbornly derivative and simplistic (almost as if the writers were in their 20s and just discovering Hollywood, and literature). And the reason for this is as old as the hills-the son David Fincher is adapting the screenplay of his beloved departed father, Jack Fincher. A natural mistake, but not one to put $50,000,000 on.

The plot, what little there actually is, blunders along, dull as pancakes in July. The cliches abound, the supporting cast spouts obvious quips, and the name-dropping is endless and revealing. I do love Citizen Kane, and admire Welles, and I also greatly admire many of Fincher's films on another level, so it all is a disappointment.

The saving grace is certainly Oldman, who acts his heart out, and sustains many scenes, even ones that don't offer much worth saving. True, he's a 62 year old playing the part of a man between 37 and 42, roughly, and that doesn't help. But he's committed and complex. A good job.

And the movie isn't a total wreck...but with all the hype, it really deflates and confounds. How and why, with all this talent, did it end up so underachieving? Or then again, who really cares?

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