‘Mank’ movie review
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
‘Citizen Kane’ could be said to have somewhat predicted now former President Donald Trump, as its main character is a newspaper owner running for president.
While Gone with the Wind is the highest grossing film of all time after inflation, many people would consider Citizen Kane the greatest film of all time (although I have not seen Citizen Kane yet). The film is famous for a lot of reasons, not just because of its use of closeups and the iconic “Rosebud” mystery, but because it was one the first examples of complex storytelling—and it was Orson Welles’ first film with RKO Pictures. Citizen Kane could be said to have somewhat predicted now former President Donald Trump, as its main character is a newspaper owner running for president.
The movie Mank is made possible by director and star Orson Welles paving the way, but the idea for Mank is instead focused on New York theatre director, playwright, and screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (played by Gary Oldman) writing Citizen Kane. In the film, David Fincher—director of movies like The Social Network and Gone Girl—
examines what inspired Herman write his greatest work. The film also was inspired by a script written by Fincher’s late father, Jack Fincher. Originally, it was going to be released locally at the VIFF Film Centre last November, but Mank was pretty much released straight to Netflix.
After Herman gets involved in a car accident while writing Citizen Kane, he stays in a villa in a desert while his assistant, Rita Alexander (Lily Collins), writes his ideas for him. It is two weeks before he must submit the script to the studio—and he drinks a lot of alcohol. The film is presented in the style of Citizen Kane; we see flashbacks of Herman when he worked at MGM Pictures, and the lighting of the film is Welles’ style. We learn that some of the characters in the film were inspired by actual people that Herman met—including a close friend that he talks about politics with named Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried).
I am not sure if Fincher directed the film with his favourite film camera, the RED Camera, or if he filmed it in Panavision. Mank also shows how powerful the entertainment industry is with politics and a lot of people not having creative freedom during the golden age of Hollywood. Welles had to go through that when making his films as all the major studios did not accept his ideas until RKO Pictures gave him an opportunity while he was still the golden boy of radio.
The sound quality in the film has the nostalgic art house cinema sound of the 1940s. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score has recognizable atmosphere, but the sound is reminiscent of the score in Citizen Kane. Oldman’s portrayal of Herman was great, and it would be interesting if he got Best Actor in the Academy Awards this year. The movie also shows that the 1940s were similar to the present because communism and socialism were both hot and controversial topics.
I would really like to see Citizen Kane and after watching Mank, and I will try to find similarities between both films. Then I can definitively say whether or not it is the greatest film of all time.