Mank; David Fincher Once Again Does it Again in This Groundbreaking Work of Art. Grade: A-
Mank takes place around 1930’s-1940’s Hollywood era, featuring screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman). Herman is assigned 60 days to hurry on up and finish a screenplay in which Orson Wells (Tom Burke) is on board to direct, as Herman is scrambling to finish with a broken leg and of course his drinking problem. While we go through the experience of Herman finishing his screenplay, we flashback to many past moments of Herman’s life, and why he’s basically canceled out of Hollywood as well as why he can’t earn screen writing credit for his works of art.
The Cinematography was absolutely stunning, I adore the black and white picture as this film captures this old essence of the beginning of the Golden Age in Hollywood perfectly. Just by the opening title shot you know you’re in for a treat. I also appreciate that the black and white picture compliments the tone of this film, as some sequences do go through some disappointing and dark places regarding Mankiewicz alcoholism, post election, or dealing with studio executives. The Score was pretty good, felt very classical through the upbeat portions and t’was somber through sequences of darkness, disappointment, and even the calm tense moments as well. I enjoyed the Sound Mixing in this as well, it can really fit into any other past film from this era and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, well done job.
The cast as a whole was MARVELOUS! Gary Oldman playing Herman Mankiewicz was pretty damn good, of course I expect him to be nominated for Best Actor as this was extremely delightful. I loved this character whom happens to be a troubled writer, as well as a misfit compared to the others. Though the alcoholism is shown briefly as it shows a few moments, where Mankiewicz can’t handle his booze. But what drawn me towards a liking to this character, was simply the fact he’s a standup guy while also being a loyal companion as well. While everyone is in agreement amongst Mankiewicz associates, Mankiewicz doesn’t shy away in telling it like it is or being caring to one of his colleagues that was running for mayor, though everyone was against him. Though the little show he puts on in the third act can appear childish due to the fact he’s annihilated, but it’s quite a powerful scene as he’s risking his livelihood over these bumbling hypocrites, who turn away whenever someone has a different point of view. Well respected gentleman and certainly a gifted writer, though he t’was severely troubled by the booze and lack of loyalty from others.
I thought Amanda Seyfried t’was excellent as Marion, she almost was unrecognizable as she truly stands out in this supporting role. I also enjoyed Lily Collins as Mankiewicz assistant Rita, I wish more development was done for her character as we barely know much about her, but still a delightful performance indeed. Arliss Howard playing Louis B Maher was great as well, does steal the show in the scenes he’s featured in as I expect him to get nominated for Best Supporting Actor as well.
Flaws with Mank comes from some pacing issues and disinterest here and there. There are definitely some slow sequences in this film, that I can honestly understand why some viewers were bored by watching it. I’m happy we’re living in a time period in which Netflix Original films, that stand out in quality that don’t deserve being just restricted on a Television screen, get the rightful opportunity to be shown in theaters as Mank rightfully was. Unfortunately didn’t get to see this in theaters, was often busy on others things, but after watching Mank at home... I’m kind of kicking myself, as I honestly really enjoyed this film.
Mank feels extremely reminiscent to 2015’s Trumbo, both are different compared in terms of storytelling, however you can definitely pair these up as a wonderful double feature. I think what separates Mank from Trumbo, is certainly the technical aspect.... There is so much attention and devotion making this film accurate towards the film making of those days, that it’s hardly recognizable as a modern day picture, which that’s a very high compliment.
The story t’was extremely well written though at times there are slow sequences and disinterest, I still found myself extremely invested in what is going on. I think this film caters more towards the cinephile rather than a casual movies goer, as if you’re not truly into the history of Hollywood and Film Making, I see this as a turn off for some. For me this works extremely well, not only is it an engaging story being told, but it’s also worth noting that I’ve learned a great amount of information along with it. Keep in mind: Some portions of the story is fictional for dramatic purposes to work as a narrative, however I can truly tell there is a great amount of truth that breaks down the harsh reality of how corrupt and close simple minded Hollywood is. If you don’t think exactly like everyone else and root for whatever the mass majority is... You get wrongfully canceled as you could lose your opportunity on securing your job... It seems like we’re heading backwards and repeating history all the way back from what 80-90 years ago?! This is utterly ridiculous.
What I find mostly positive about Mank is though I have issues with it on a first watch... I do believe on multiple viewings or even watching Citizen Kane and then watching this after, I believe my opinion on it can change over the course of time. It’s definitely an extremely unique and wonderful experience that excels on many levels, as it’s kind of hard to pin point any problems. This will certainly make a great amount of noise on Oscar Sunday, as David Fincher once again does it again.
Overall, Mank is an excellent work of art. I highly recommend checking this one out, I will warn you this isn’t really for everyone especially to those that aren’t quite in love with learning the history of film making and Hollywood. -Mitch Smietana