Mank (2020)

R   |    |  Biography, Comedy, Drama

Mank (2020) Poster

1930's Hollywood is reevaluated through the eyes of scathing social critic and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish the screenplay of Citizen Kane (1941).


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'Mank' Disputes Who Wrote 'Citizen Kane'

David Fincher's new film, Mank, explores the uncertain origin story of Citizen Kane. Dig into some Hollywood history on this IMDbrief.

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5 December 2020 | grantss
| Okay but disappointing
1940. Film studio RKO hires 24-year-old wunderkind Orson Welles under a contract that gives him full creative control of his movies. For his first film he calls in washed up alcoholic Herman J Mankiewicz to write the screenplay. That film is Citizen Kane and this is the story of how it was written.

I was quite excited at the release of this movie. Citizen Kane is one of the greatest films of all time and the making of it deserves a movie. And here we have it, directed by the great David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac, The Social Network, Gone Girl, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) no less and with a good cast - Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Charles Dance, Lily Collins. Surely a recipe for a masterpiece?

Unfortunately, no. On the plus side, the story is reasonably interesting and the cast put in solid performances. Fincher's direction is spot-on, with the black-and-white cinematography an homage to Citizen Kane.

However, the plot is never very engaging. The story never really finds a centre and pretty much drifts along. It's not dull but has a listlessness to it nonetheless. The flashbacks, while adding information, don't help the momentum either, resulting in a start-stop feel to the main plot and a bit of confusion at times.

The conclusion is also a damp squib and is disparaging to one of the greatest creative forces in the history of cinema. It smacks of trying to make a controversy out of nothing.

Overall it's okay, but nothing more.

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Did You Know?


David Fincher was doing his press tour and shedding some light on what many believe to be his most ambitious, unique feature to date. And as Fincher explained to Variety, this also might be the project that has taken the most time to finally see the light of day, but thanks to Netflix, he finally was given the chance to direct Mank (2020). It's a project that Fincher has been working on since the early '90s and is based on a script written by his father Jack Fincher. And at one point, the film looked like it was going to be made in the '90s, but there was a major snag that put the film back in development hell. According to the report, the '90s version of Mank was set up at Polygram, and Fincher had already begun the process of casting. He was hoping to get Kevin Spacey to star as Herman J. Mankiewicz and with Jodie Foster on board as Marion Davies, the longtime mistress to William Randolph Hearst. (The roles would eventually go to Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried, respectively.) Unfortunately there were issues with Fincher's insistence on shooting in black-and-white that prevented the deal to film to ever get made. Fincher claims "Polygram got cold feet because of all kinds of truly stupid boilerplate stuff involving output deals in Central America. We would have had to have shot the film in color and then corrected it and do a black-and-white version. It completely fell apart." Now, more than 20 years later, Netflix is releasing Mank (2020) on its streaming platform and didn't balk at the notion of shooting in black-and-white or the price tag that is associated with a David Fincher film. But this comes at a major cost to many filmmakers-the theatrical experience. However, this isn't something that Fincher is necessarily worried about in 2020 - "Let's be real: The exhibition experience is not the shining link in the chain right now," Fincher states.


John Houseman: I've never been fired.
Herman Mankiewicz: I've never not been fired.
John Houseman: I don't get fired.
Herman Mankiewicz: It's not as unpleasant as you might imagine. You worry too much. What do you do for pleasure?


Marion Davies had a slight stammer when not in front of the cameras. That's not evident in this film.

Crazy Credits

The Netflix logos at the beginning and end are in full color, despite the film being in black and white.


California, Here I Come
Written by
Al Jolson, Buddy G. DeSylva (as B.G. DeSylva), and Joseph Meyer
Performed by Al Jolson
Courtesy of Geffen Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises


Plot Summary

Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Biography | Comedy | Drama

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