"Mank" is a change of pace for director David Fincher – instead of the world of startup backstabbing ("The Social Network"), political backstabbing ("House of Cards") or actual stinging ("Seven", "Zodiac") exploring "Gone Girl", "Mindhunter" etc), Fincher brings us back to Hollywood of the 30s and 40s.
Based on a script by Fincher's late father, Jack, the film is being shot and edited to pay homage to the classic studio films of the era – most notably "Citizen Kane," co-written by Herman Mankiewicz (played by Gary Oldman) who is the "Mank" of the title of the film.
The story jumps back and forth in time and shows how Mank met newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance) and his lover Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried) – and then disaffected "Kane" for Orson Welles (Tom Burke).
That might not sound like a particularly dramatic setup for a movie – as we acknowledge in the latest episode of the Original Content Podcast, "Manks" can confidently play a role in old-fashioned filmmaking and its premise of making a movie – it feels a bit insiderially, as if it were a footnote to another film.
But in the end, the movie works whether you've seen Citizen Kane or not. Fincher captures both the glamor and ugliness of the studio system, while Oldman delivers a fascinating performance as a talented writer who has been content to joke and drink his talent until he is driven to make one of the greatest films of all time . that will turn many of his former friends and allies into enemies.
In addition to reviewing “Mank,” we're also discussing the ambitious streaming plans Disney outlined on its investor day this week.
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