Updated: Feb 2
It's hard, after being mesmerised by Gary Oldman's portrayal as Churchill, to not see him as the cigar smoking minister in films. A director with 'Fight Club' 'Seven' and 'Gone Girl' under his jacket, David Fincher snatched the acting icon for his new 2020 drama 'Mank'. Set in 1930s Hollywood, a flourishing cast surrounds an alcoholic screenwriter, Herman J. Mankiewicz, as he frantically writes the last pages of his famous movie 'Citizen Kane'. Shot on a black and white RED digital camera to mirror the original, the efforts made were sure to transfer me back to this theatrical era.
The running of this narrative is phenomenal. By toying with past and present, Fincher plays with Hermans pressure to complete the script. At the beginning, you follow the chairman of the industry around mammoth studio lots, remembering the electricity before war time. The film lets you in on the comedy early on, showcasing the chauvinism and laziness of the superior directors, playing poker in the back rooms with naked ladies. One things for sure, you're sucked into the passion around cinema during these days, and the troubled individuals sweating to create it.
As you recognise the protagonist alarming desire for alcohol, showman Oldman holds an impressive representation of the dark eyed outspoken figure. Waking up without memory on grand locations or falling asleep in the middle of the day, Mankiewicz seems somewhat innocent compared to his sexiest bourgeois colleagues. What holds the title is his somewhat caring attitude he takes towards the women in the story.
Amanda Seyfried plays her role as the defiant Marian with sublime beauty. The duos moments sneaking off drinking liquor in the mansion's gardens reflect the secrecy around the industries many issues during this time. Not only does the enthusiasm of class balance the truth surrounding the film industries absurd budgets in the 30's, but the captivating costumes and designs transform you back to these highly paid figures.
Mank (Netflix 2021)
There are rarely moments where, as an audience, you feel the story is attempting to convey seriousness as the humour regularly draws away from the harshness. With outdated circular edits quickly linking scenes, and distant frames of the actors, the sadness Herman J. Mankiewicz feels is buried. Given that this acclaimed writer was experiencing a friend committing suicide, whilst following a rapid addition with alcohol, there should have been more prolonged moments for his character to reflect upon his worries.
Anyone who dreams of the years when movie sets twinkled with spotlights, and overdressed extras ruled the streets, will be transported with jazz hands in 'Mank'. With a period-authentic instrumentation from the 1940s, the film reminded me of a live musical, bouncing lines between characters until the finale exploded on stage. Gary Oldman effortlessly showcases how he can play these widely treasured figures of history. It's an applaudable time capsule of a picture for us to cherish this booming industry, what with a curve ball of stop signs in the last year for the industry.