Porn for film historians and cinephiles but not much else for the average Netflix subscriber and even Fincher fans. It will frustrate and bore a lot (would love to see Netflix’s statistics on how many made it to the end).
Not only does Fincher tell a story set in the golden age of Hollywood, but he evokes the style of filmmaking too. It's cleverly made, and Oldman is great as Mank. However, it didn't quite grip me the way I thought it would, perhaps due to the movie's talky nature. Still, that doesn't detract from what Fincher has tried to do here.
Watch "Citizen Kane", then read Wikipedia, then watch Mank. You're going to love it.
[6.9/10] I am always fascinated by movies whose themes and ideas are recursive. That is to say, I’m intrigued when whatever a movie is trying to say can also be said about the movie. Ironically for Mank, a great example of this is Saving Mr. Banks, a 2013 film about the making of Mary Poppins. It stands for the idea that film and fiction can be used to remember the best parts of the people we love and scrub away the bad parts, which the 1960s period does for none other than Walt Disney.
Mank is a film about glorifying writers, about the way their long-nursed grudges and half-truths and personal peccadillos end up making it into their scripts, no matter how abstracted or generalized those elements may become in translation. It features its eponymous scribe punishing the likes of William Randolph Hearst and Louis B. Mayer for their misdeeds by spinning them in a particular light in his draft.
It’s not hard to see screenwriter Jack Fincher (late father of director David), himself a journalist-turned-screenwriter like the title character, playing with the truth of the California gubernatorial election, the writing of Citizen Kane, and Herman J. Mankiewicz’s role in both to make his own point about screenwriters being unsung and of a moral (or at least artistic) bankruptcy among the bigwigs who kick the humble scripturients around.
The catch is that, whoever deserves credit for the writing (and film historians have concluded that Orson Welles’s contributions were numerous, and potentially superseding), the results were that Citizen Kane is a masterpiece. Whatever concomitant beefs with Hollywood or politicking or simple storytelling Mr. Fincher has, the result is a film that’s perfectly fine, but that isn’t within bottle-throwing distance of the movie whose history it’s ostensibly retelling.
Mank is essentially Shakespeare in Love aimed at cinephiles rather than theater buffs. We see the actions of men like Hearst and Mayer and their various lieutenants and henchmen that were transfigured into Charles Foster Kane, his business manager, and the others that circumnavigated his life. We see Mank’s relationship with Marion Davies and how it influences the depiction of Susan Alexander. We see plenty of more specific moments like grand guignol soirees or stray lines that make their way into the finished product.
At times it veers on the cheesy or obvious. Outside of a few significant moments (mostly Mank’s bottle rolling out of his hand the way Kane’s snowglobe did), David Fincher never gets too cute with these parallels. But they’re also not necessarily interesting either, with the film’s take on Hearst, Davies, and Mayer, far less engrossing than that of Mank himself.
The closest this movie comes to a hook is the notion that the truth is worse than fiction, that Charles Foster Kane was rife with tragedy and lost ideals and other humanizing qualities that the real movers and shakers he and his coterie were based on lacked. Hollywood schmaltz and poetic license, in the Finchers’ tale, elevated them to a level of decency they didn’t deserve. And at the same time, Mank suggests its title character underserved Citizen Kane’s leading lady, with the real figure even more sympathetic, but also sharper and more adept, than her celluloid counterpart.The problem is that, for a film that makes such pains to underscore that Citizen Kane was art that didn’t talk down to its audience or hold its hand, the signature scene of Mank features a seemingly endless monologue from the eponymous screenwriter where he all but announces all of this and how he’ll inject it into Welles’s famous picture, to the people he’ll use for his roman a clef. There is zero subtlety to it, or much of anything in the picture, just a thundering confirmation of how and why Mr. Mankewicz decided to go after Hearst in his screenplay.
At least Fincher the Younger pays some nice tribute to Citizen Kane in style and approach. Beyond the black and white color-grading, the look and feel of the film aims to capture that 1940s aesthetic and tone. True to the inspiration, Mank also uses a non-linear approach, jumping between past that informs the present. Even the sound design clearly took some pain to recreate a classic vibe. At times, it feels more like a gimmick than an organic extension of the story, but its fidelity is impressive, and it’s a nice homage the cinematic classic.
The Finchers argue that Mankiewicz deserves more credit for that classic, but doesn’t make him all that engrossing as a central figure. The Mank of the film that bears his name is a drunk and degenerate gambler who can spin a bon mot and may be hiding a heart of gold. But his witticisms feel stock and over-packed into the film’s banter, and the beats he hits over the course of the movie make him scan as a standard issue “difficult man.” It’s no one’s fault that the self-destructive genius whose principles and methods are both his salvation and his downfall has become such a stock trope in the modern day. But it leaves the character of Mankiewicz, and Gary Oldman’s able but familiar performance of him, far less memorable or reakrable than the film needs them to be.
Despite that, Mank is yet another movie about movie-making, slickly produced with awards-calibrated performances and a message about paying tribute to the crafters of dreams while slating the money men who fund them. It’s sure to clean-up on that basis alone. (And it would be especially ironic if it managed to win more Oscars than Citizen Kane itself.) Beyond that, it juggles a parallel story with well-done tributes to the era it represents and creditable nods to its hallowed forebear. The ingredients are there, not just for an Academy crowd-pleaser, but for a solid film.
Mank just never rises above that. Citizen Kane bent and broke the truth as much, if not more than this film does, but got at a more essential humanity and even profundity in what it made out of the pieces. The best you can say for its “making of” successor is that it has the boldness to say the inspirations and creation of that seminal filmic work were much uglier and lacking in those qualities than Welles’s movie might suggest. But for a movie devoted to one of cinema’s great groundbreaking works, it does so in a surprisingly rote fashion.
I can't say i liked the movie but my eyes did.I know who is Orson Welles and watched Citizen Kane a long time ago, I understood the story but a lot of names and references have past over my head.
I have a lot of respect for this movie, but it just wasn't my thing. It didn't capture much of my attention. And that's OK.
One would enjoy this movie if they like movie history, moviemaking history, or "Citizen Kane."
I'm a big David Fincher fan, and this felt like a Fincher movie in many ways (cinematography & lighting, characters, dialogue), but not one that I much enjoyed.
6 years without a David Fincher film, but he finally returns with an unexpected and quite polarizing movie. He returns not only with a feature film, but his sassy "hot takes".
I seem to be the odd one out here, in terms of liking this...oh well.
‘Mank’ is absolutely mankificent! Also, my sincere apology for that unforgivable pun, I just couldn’t resist. I loved the acting, the score, the directing, the writing, and I loved it even more on a second watch. A movie centered around the golden age of Hollywood that felt so classy, and yet very timely.
Timely in terms of communism and how film studios were struggling to find new ways to attract audiences back to the cinema’s, since they recent efforts barley made a dime. I found the political and economic undertone of the story were the best part about the movie. It shows why Mank and Wells were so passionate about making "Citizen Kane", and it allows us to appreciate the film not only from a technical stand point, but for themes the creators were exploring in it. It makes you look at ‘Citizen Kane’ more differently and hopefully helps us recognize the power of political narrative in popular media, and its effect on everyday life.
It’s less about the making of ‘Citizen Kane’ and more about the screen writer himself, Herman J. Mankiewicz and the ever-changing hardships that Hollywood faced in the 1930’s, way before “the great depression”. This is not 100% a true story nor do I believe Fincher was aiming for that, as he instead chooses to focus more on Mankiewicz perspective, an unreliable alcoholic that blurs the line between what is true and isn't.
But firstly, I do recommend watching ‘Citizen Kane’ before this movie for two main reasons:
1). To understand some of the references in the movie, both in dialogue and visual references.2). I think you should just watch ‘Citizen Kane’ if you haven’t, because, um...I heard it’s pretty good.
David Fincher is somebody that I admire both as a filmmaker and as a human being. His advice on film is incredibly insightful and inspiring, but he has a personality of a punk rocker which makes him compelling to watch and listen, which all that elements always carry through into his work. With ‘Mank’, it’s a complete departure from Fincher's other work in terms of tone and everything else. Halfway through the movie you completely forget he directed it. There are no serial killers, no violence, and no Mark Zuckerberg. However, it’s not to say his visual style, extreme attention to detail, and humour isn’t present. This is not just a love letter to Hollywood, but a critical one as well. He relishes in the creative side of the artists. He also despises the industries treatment of the artists and the cold business strategy. Fincher is good at reading people like a book and he sure knows a thing or two about studio meddling. Still, it’s a bittersweet to see his late father, Jack Fincher, who wrote the screenplay for this movie, get screen credit at the beginning, all these years after his death. And while Fincher may have harsh feelings towards Orson Welles, but there is no denying Fincher has respect for the man. So, I do not believe this is an anti-Welles movie.
Everything on a technical standpoint is an absolute marvel. I was completely blown away on my first watch when there is a screen transition; all the lights, natural or from lamps, will slowly dim out first, while the actors are the last ones. I also love the little cigarette burn in a couple of shots. Erik Messerschmidt's cinematography is absolutely stunning in black and white. He perfectly uses the light and shadows for each scene to make it look so rich and have depth to it. The editing and clean cuts really made the dialogue scenes have a certain flow to it. Not forgetting the top-notch audio work in the movie, which sounds very echoey and fits in the period of movie making.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' score is terrific and effectively uses every authentic period instruments of that era, delivering a sharp and old-fashion score that evokes not only Old Hollywood, but ‘Citizen Kane’.
Gary Oldman is phenomenal as the title lead, Mankiewicz, a man who was more drunk than sober. A comical yet grounded portrayal to the uncredited alcoholic, as he looks so bloated and mentally absorbed that it’s a miracle he is always on schedule with work. Gary Oldman is so slick and charming in the role that I can understand why people put up with Mank’s unprofessional behaviour. People seem to be bothered with Oldman’s casting, as apparently he is “too old to play the role”, since in the movie Mank himself states he is 43 years old, while Oldman is 62. Well, if you look at any photos of Mankiewicz, he looked so much older than his actual age. There was one photo of him when he was 44 but looked mid-60. All thanks to alcohol and smoking that aged him like sour milk, because back then nobody took care of themselves, as health and mental wellbeing was the last thing to think about, and Mank did no favours for himself. My grandma once had a friend who sadly died due to heavy drinking and smoking a couple of years ago. She abused the substance so much that she lost the sense of taste in her mouth, so every food tasted awful to her and she didn’t eat at all, which made her weight drop down until she was flesh and bone. I remembered how she looked; saggy and loose skin, her black stained teeth hanging on for dear life on her gums, and bony features. She was 39 but looked 60! So yeah, this whole age thing is completely pointless and can be easily justified. And besides, Oldman is brilliant in the role.
Amanda Seyfried also delivers an excellent performance as Marion Davies, Aka “Dulcinea”, nick named after the fictional character in the two-part novel ‘Don Quixote’. Her golden hair, rosy cheeks, coral lips, her neck alabaster, her bosom marble. Ivory her hands and whiteness her snow. ‘Dulcinea’ means sweetness in translation. Seyfried is the type of actor that has been around for quite a while now, and yet hasn’t had a breakout role. In ‘Mank’, Seyfried finally gets her time to shine and it is glorious to watch.
The other cast members all did a fantastic job in the supporting roles. Arliss Howard is great as the tactful and emotional movie producer Louis B. Mayer. Charles Dance, man what a presence and he left such an impression on me despite the small screen time as William Randolph Hearst. He could stare and say no words and still convey what he is really thinking. Lily Collins, Tom Pelphrey, and Tuppence Middleton all did a great job and stood on their own next to Gary Oldman. While there are loads of characters, but I still found them all quite interesting and equally had compelling arcs.
Tom Burke’s portrayal as Orson Welles is nothing short than amazing. His voice and mannerism are so on point its kind of terrifying. While it’s a shame his screen time is tiny, even so, I can see why that decision was made. We all know about Orson Welles, but little on Herman Mankiewicz. In this movie, we see a lot of Hermie, and see little of Welles.
The movie is not for everyone as I have seen my fair share of mixed reactions. I can totally understand why somebody may find the movie boring, or pointless, or hollow, or frustrated by how its structured. However, I am the complete opposite. I was never bored watching it and I wouldn’t call my experience hollow if I laughed and was deeply moved by it. Polarizing to say the least, so if you are going to check it out, then I recommend going in and form your own opinion rather on what other people have said.
Me on the other hand, I stan for MANK!!!!!!!!
Overall rating: It blew my wig off!
A slog even for me, a film nut. I'm sorry but he wrote one great film and was a prick in the process. Not someone I want to spend 2 hours with.
Behind the scenes at the conception of Citizen Kane, as dictated by a fast-talking screenwriter who drank and gaffed his way out of a lucrative career in big-studio Hollywood. Herman J. Mankiewicz is said writer, a broken lush of the highest degree, who agrees to take the gloves off for a scathing cinematic shellacking of the famous William Randolph Hearst with the understanding that he'll remain anonymous. Wunderkind Orson Welles is happy to take the credit in his stead, then furious when the author has a change of heart and decides to stand behind his work after all.
Most of the story occurs during flashbacks, as Mank reflects upon his working life, grows increasingly resentful over the series of slights and missteps that led to his current predicament, and pours that sense of vengeful truth into the script. In his prime, he was a real cad, quick-witted and outspoken, a colorful product of the times even in warm, sepia-hinted black and white. Gary Oldman does characteristically well with the part, fluctuating between loud, biting humor in the heat of the moment and uncertain self-doubt in the softer personal breaks after he's removed foot from mouth, but it often feels like a beefed-up supporting role and not a lead in the traditional sense.
All the historical flashbacks are stuffed with references and name drops, an embarrassment of riches for classical cinephiles (or even fans of 20s and 30s cultural notoriety) that assumes an awful lot of existing knowledge from the viewing audience. If you aren't already sure who Hearst, Marion Davies and Louis B. Mayer were, you'll get a few strong hints, but you're going to miss a lot of implied depth. Speaking personally, I just recently finished a biography of Hearst that pretty well set the stage, and I still felt overwhelmed at times.
A lot of work went into getting the sights, sounds and textures of depression-era California right, and in that respect it's a slam dunk for compulsively-obsessed David Fincher. Mank really feels like an immaculately-restored film from the golden age, which serves as beautiful compliment to the towering old backlots, sprawling palatial estates and smoke-cloaked executive offices which house most of the action. The screen shimmers and shines, even as the plot fails to change gears. It's a series of rich scenes left searching for a spark; the implication of menace without the arrival. As a historical fanboy, I was delighted to devour it, but as a moviegoer, I felt a little under-served.
[Netflix] A film about the Hollywood of the past through the eyes of David Fincher. A political vision of cinema from the gaze of a great alcoholic, although based on a lie spread by Pauline Kael. But the essence of this story is the representation of an era and a way of making cinema that has disappeared. Magnificent work by Gary Oldman, creator of one of the best drunks that have been seen in a long time.
"Words spoken by people in a 1930s & 40s American accent which no one gives a shit about : The most boring movie of 2020" (2020) was the original title of this movie, i don't know why they changed it to Mank (2020)
As I'm reading J. Hoberman's "An Army of Phantoms", it's quite fascinating to see persons that are subject in the book be beatured on the big screen. Albeit a bit fictionalized, it takes place before the events in the book. Back in the day, politics shaped movies way more than they do now. (Although there are examples of this happening to appease certain nations in the world.) Propaganda in movies to shape the public's mind is something only Herman J. Mankiewicz frowns upon in Mank.
It took me longer to watch because I had to keep consulting Google and IMDB for the period correct mentions of events and persons. I left the movie not only better informed about how Citizen Kane came to be written, the impression I now have of the people involved helps me to humanize them. They're no longer just names on a page for me. The magic of the movies.
One has to mention the thorough effort to establish the particular sense of nostalgia for the 80-year old setting. They way it is filmed brings forth the unmitigated sense that this is a passion project. David Fincher did not hold back turning this era-defining story into this skillful product, although I do feel sorry for the actors having to go through multiple takes to reach his defenition of perfection. (Stanley Kubrick-flashbacks anyone?).
However, that leaves us with a picture that has accomplished acting, remeniscant of old Hollywood that is neither glamorous nor dismissive. If you love movies, this is a perfect addition to your "Must Watch"-list.
For those who don’t know, this movie on Netflix is a biopic of legendary Hollywood screenwriter, Herman Mankiewicz. It’s even made in the style of Mankiewicz’s classic, black and white movies!
Please stop saying if you knew the story you will enjoy it. Please stop saying this was not my kind of movie. Do not make nonsense excuses. Plain and simple this movie was bad on all levels. Failed on all levels. You do not have to be an expert to enjoy a movie. They just completely failed to tell an interesting story on any level. My first total disappointment from Fincher.
This was a movie that contained some fabulous acting from Oldman, Dance and a few others. There were a handful of scenes that are tremendous. That said... this wasn't a great movie. Near the beginning of the film Mank claims that audiences can handle a complicated story (I am paraphrasing) and this was clearly the belief of the makers of this movie. This movie essentially just gets bogged down and kind of drags to the finish. Seyfried's character is useless in this movie - I can't remember a more useless second billing since Kim Basinger in LA Confidential. The scenes between Oldman and Seyfried are easily the worst in the movie. If anything it seemed as though the movie was too ambitious and bit off more than it could chew. I suspect that much of the reason that this was nominated for best picture is that Hollywood loves movies about Hollywood nostalgia.
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Definitely more entertaining than I expected. Sure it’s a lot of dialogues to handle, but the pacing is relatively tight, and the performances are mostly convincing (Charles Dance in particular). The care they put into the sound and cinematography to reconstruct the atmosphere of the time is more than remarkable.
The film is presented as a docudrama, but Jack Fincher’s original script is so outdated that many plot points have been already debunked by recent studies, including the infamous allegations that Orson Welles was not involved in the writing of “Citizen Kane”. However, if we think of this film as Mankiewicz’s own perspective of the events, the truth might not matter at all. The real problem the script takes for granted that we are all familiar with the insiders of Hollywood’s Golden Age and the political climate of the time. The dialogues are packed with countless historical references, but we are hardly given context. The main events are pretty straightforward, but you will definitely need more than one Wikipedia research to fully enjoy the dialogues.
If I had studied before watching I might have love it, but instead I found it a director’s experience and a great acting from Gary Oldman but not an good movie
I would hazard a guess that this Best Picture Oscar nominee will garner a lot of industry attention because Hollywood loves movies about itself. This one is a homage to old Hollywood from the first frame of the rolling, black and white, opening credits. The topic is the making of a Hollywood picture, the characters are the who’s who of the studio era. Despite my crack about Hollywood’s infatuation with itself, this movie is skillfully crafted to mirror the filmmaking of CITIZEN KANE. The casting is stellar and the performances are well executed. In a season of exceptional motion pictures, this movie was nominated for 10 Oscars! I give this film a 10 (fine craftsmanship) out of 10. [Historical Drama]. For an excellent article about the story behind the story - https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2020/12/mank-real-marion-davies-citizen-kane-orson-welles-amanda-seyfried
Don’t know much about the history behind it.
The more things change, the more they remain the same. The politics..
A fascinating look about what supposedly went into 'Citizen Kane'.
'Mank', a biopic about screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, is a very good watch. A lot goes on and it's pretty much all interesting to see, admittedly you'd need to have seen the 1941 film. I like that they done this in a non-linear format and in black-and-white, à la in '41.
Kudos to the cast. Gary Oldman (Herman) is impressive, I did feel he was overacting - likewise with Amanda Seyfried (Marion) - just a little bit in parts but for the vast, vast majority he (and she) is top notch. Arliss Howard (Mayer), Lily Collins (Rita) and a few others are also pleasing to watch.
Should've read up a bit on this so I could've prepared for watching it. Because with little knowledge of the persons that it's about you wont get much out of this exceptc some pretty faces, good acting and a visual feast.But I rather would've spent the two hours doing something else because this got boring really fast.Maybe I'll rewatch it when I get the time to rewatch Citizen Kane.
A little dull and long if you're looking to be entertained, but highly interesting if you're looking to learn something. I still consider myself a green film fan, but I watched Citizen Kane in preparation for this, and Mank right after, and because of them I now feel a little bit more of an insider in the history of cinema, and that's very valuable. Movies about movies are always a web of meta layers, and this one goes further by adapting the style and structure of the film it is talking about. Definitely worth the watch.
"Citizen Mank" because, from the convoluted time line and the black & white images all the way down to the dubbed dialog track, this is basically a remake of Citizen Kane with its screenwriter as the central character.
And like Citizen Kane, the sublime filmmaking overshadows a story that (in Mank) drags its feet all the way to the end. For while Herman J. Mankiewicz co-won the screen writing Oscar for Citizen Kane, Jack Fincher won't win one for this (and not because he was the director's father and wrote this screenplay before passing in 2003).
Looks pretty awesome on the big screen. Some brilliant photography, set design and costume design. Pretty good cast and that era of Hollywood is captured perfectly. I'm not sure it's the 5 star masterpiece some critics are making it out to be but it's entertaining. The story of Herman J. Mankiewicz is told well for the most part with his struggles to write the screenplay of Citizen Kane the main theme. I did feel there were some historical inaccuracies towards the end, which don't really paint Welles in the best light - which is a great shame - although it all just adds to the mystery of Kane.
It's likely a movie to watch more than once. You could quote many lines (to be fair the movie also likes to quotes), the dialogue is intelligent, the editing is fast and Fincher directs so.My only issue would be with the actor playing Orson. But you would need the actual Orson to make it work.