Mank Movie Review

Mank Movie Review
It's hardest to distill your thoughts about a movie you so desperately hoped to love, but merely enjoyed and appreciated. Personally, I tend to do a good job balancing expectations and final product, but everything about David Fincher's "Mank" added up to something I should have loved. The movie marks Fincher's first outing since 2014's "Gone Girl," which allowed for added hype and anticipation for his return. Many will love "Mank," including Oscar voters. However, I found myself equally in awe of and frustrated by a disconnect and emotional distance that lingered throughout the film.

First, it's often unclear what tone "Mank" wishes to strike. It's built like an homage but feels like a eulogy. Are we celebrating what once was, or mourning what is no longer? It seems like an attempt at both, which keeps "Mank" at an arm's length. The opening title card, which establishes the movie as a Netflix product, is presented in a way that mirrors the RKO Pictures banner. RKO was the distributor that put out "Citizen Kane," and the juxtaposition here feels wistful. There's a "they don't make them like they used to" mentality from the get-go.
Even so, it's hard to dismiss "Mank" outright. The design and detail in creating a movie in the style of the 1930s and 1940s is richly textured, even when it teeters on the brink of gimmick. The movie isn't shot in pristine black-and-white like Netflix's "Roma," but is given a grainy look to appear as film. The movie transitions with fade outs and wipes and even goes as far as to have a cigarette burn in the top right corner, which indicates a film reel changing when projected. Only a master filmmaker like Fincher would think of the cigarette burns.

"Mank" is being sold as the story of screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz (played by Gary Oldman) and his participation in writing the screenplay for "Citizen Kane" with up-and-coming filmmaker Orson Welles (Tom Burke). Whether you are a casual moviegoer or a serious film student, "Citizen Kane's" recognition as the greatest movie of all time seems to be common knowledge. In a lot of ways, "Citizen Kane" changed the way movies were analyzed and discussed, and a great deal of its stature belongs to Mankiewicz and Welles' screenplay (though they would certainly argue about who deserves such credit).

A lot happens in "Mank," but much of the movie is spent smoking in rooms, drinking liquor, and talking about the moment in time. The movie is most effective when it shows us Mankiewicz's tumultuous path to co-authoring the most revered script in film history. He battles alcoholism, doubts, writers block, and Welles in order to create "Citizen Kane." The creative process initially looms over "Mank" but after a while it feels like an afterthought. The movie gets a bit bogged down in the middle section when it shifts focus to the 1934 California governor's race between Upton Sinclair and Frank Merriam; it provides a snapshot of the time but feels like a long distraction from the script development process.

The movie introduces us to a lot of key players in Mankiewicz's orbit. From studio head Louis B. Mayer (Arliss Howard) and Mankiewicz's brother Joseph (Tom Pelphrey), to William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance) and Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried, who embodies a 1930s starlet), "Mank" gives each person enough time to show their effect on Mankiewicz's life. Most crucial and undervalued is Rita (Lily Collins), who Mankiewicz dictates his writing to.

The screenplay for "Mank" is credited to Fincher's late father Jack Fincher, which indicates that the movie is a longtime passion project for the filmmaker. There have been countless stories about Fincher's filmmaking style, which often has actors do a scene upwards of 200 times. That kind of meticulousness - as obnoxious as it sounds - is on full display here. Every aspect of the film's craft is thoroughly thought through. Additionally, we are guided through the film's journey by another great score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, frequent Fincher collaborators.

Production design is important, but it doesn't distract from the nagging question of what "Mank" is trying to achieve. If this review seems wishy-washy,  that's because it is. My thoughts about the movie change by the minute, but ultimately "Mank" offers some old fashioned entertainment and spotlights an era of filmmaking that seems like a dusty relic. "Mank" is a good movie, but there's a pervasive feeling that it should have been a great one.

"Mank" arrives in select theaters November 13. It debuts on Netflix on December 4.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Mank Movie Review Mank Movie Review Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, November 26, 2020 Rating: 5

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