Mank: Glow Filters and Bad Guys

Directed By: David Fincher

What I really took from Mank is we all need whatever glow filter they were using on Amanda Seyfried. It’s easy to steal the show whenever everyone is dull, drab, gray and your over there lit up like a glow stick.

Mank is the new David Fincher movie about the writing of the Citizen Kane screenplay. It follows one Herman J. Mankiewicz who writes the film while recovering from an injury and not at all staying sober. He’s flashing back to his past through 1930s Hollywood. His friendship with Marion Davies and his travails through the studio system headed by one Louis Mayer and the intermingling of some extreme political machinations.

The look of the film is fun. I eat up this old Hollywood stuff but especially what takes place at San Simeon (Hearst Castle) very well done. Loved the costumes. I also enjoyed the look of old California.

And I love anything about the writing process.

Also I was amused that Bill Nye the Science Guy is Upton Sinclair but literally didn’t realize that until I looked up the credit list.

But the screenplay written by Fincher’s father Jack is a bit messy and I think it shows in the film. Early on the movie Mank says something like you can’t show a man’s life in 2 hours you’re only going to get pieces and that’s what it feels like here but it also can’t decide who it’s against.

You would think Hearst since that’s who Mank is writing about. But it’s Meyer that’s seen more often through the film and they actually do a good job with him. Hearst (Charles Dance) is really too much in the background. Marion is his representative and she’s honestly the most likable person in the film. I couldn’t help but think well if she loves him there must be something good there.

And the big party scene at the end Mank spills out all this information about Hearst that is interesting sure but we didn’t see any of that and frankly Dance cleans his clock in that scene.

Than the movie switches to the whole writing credit mess that surrounded Citizen Kane and makes Orson Welles the seeming bad guy which kind of annoyed me (okay it did) because a lot of that is based on a widely discredited and disparaged essay by Pauline Kael. Fincher has said it’s from Mank’s point-of-view which makes sense but I think a lot of people will take it at face value. It also only alludes to the crazy attempts to block the film.

So if you take Mank at face value it is a story about a man’s life in pieces- a messy one at that. I just can’t help but feel as a movie it would have been stronger if the story was more concentrated in any of those areas.

But the production is great and Amanda Seyfried definitely deserves that Oscar talk. Plus after about the first 40 minutes (a long time I know) I was pulled in an intrigued enough to keep watching.

Grinch-Meter: I give this a 6/10.

Recommend: This is not going to be a film for everyone. But I will say if you like classic Hollywood, black and white’s or are a Citizen Kane buff give it a go!