Criticism | Mank – David Fincher and Netflix unmask Citizen Kane

The truth behind the scenes

Continuing its work with established filmmakers, Netflix yesterday released on its platform the new film by two-time Oscar nominated director David Fincher. And the film promises to score points in the film’s upcoming awards season. By closely following the house’s ‘art’ works, see Roma (2018, by Alfonso Cuarón) and O Irlandês (2019, by Martin Scorsese), Mank is not an easy-to-access film, being indicated for root cinema fans.

Mank is part of the ‘film about movies’ subgenre, which always ends up being more interesting / suitable for fans of the subject, professionals in the field, moviegoers and students of film history – here, especially since the age Hollywood gold from the 1930s and 1940s. But Fincher’s new feature film isn’t just that, and behind the scenes it becomes a love letter from the filmmaker and his most personal project. All because the feature film was written by the director’s father, Jack Fincher (deceased 2003), in his only cinematic work. Despite this, Jack Fincher was a famous writer and essayist, having many texts, articles and essays published in renowned vehicles, see Readers Digest, Saturday Review and The Smithsonian, for example. Jack even wrote a biography on Howard Hughes, which was almost made into Martin Scorsese’s film The Aviator (2004) – ending up being chosen by John Logan’s screenplay for the work.

His experience of words is the explanation for Mank’s incessant verbiage – a film that does not rely on his news, monologues and dialogue. All very rich, I must add. Which makes the trip a trip to be savored over and over again, until we can contemplate and assimilate at least some of all it has to offer. It is impossible to capture only on first contact. We know we are up against something big, but its hidden paths make everything even more rare.

As many reported, Mank is a behind-the-scenes attempt at one of the greatest classics and masterpieces of the seventh art, still considered by many to be the best film of all time, Citizen Kane (1941): nominated for nine Oscars, including Best Picture, and winner for Best Screenplay. And here we are getting into exactly the field that is the theme of the new feature. Or should we say, one of the themes. David Fincher, alongside his father, attempts to demystify the genius of a then young Orson Welles, at the time a 25-year-old boy – director and protagonist of Citizen Kane, and widely credited as the author of the story. Welles’ merit for the production text has long been debated, but the Finchers have struck the hammer and come to assert that… no, the filmmaker did not have the weight of this story.

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For the task of writing most of Citizen Kane, Herman J. Mankiewicz, aka Mank, one of Hollywood’s most influential screenwriters at the time, appeared in the program, having lyrics in works such as Avalanche (1928) and Que Mundo Maravilhoso (1939), and a second Oscar nomination for the Idol, Hero and Lover (1942) – in addition to the statuette victory by the aforementioned Kane. It was Mank, inhabited in the illustrious Fincher film by Oscar-winner Gary Oldman (guaranteed to receive a second nomination for the plump and delightfully drunk portrait for most of the screening), who frequented the upper echelons of society. . Which involved MGM studio owner Louis B. Mayer (Arliss Howard) and media mogul William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance) – on which Kane’s character was based.

Mank also claims that it was an argument for the heart of actress Marion Davis – one of the greats of the golden age – that led the screenwriter to create this rivalry with the media baron, revealing his essence. on the screens. Marion would be your real “Rosebud”. In the feature film, the actress is played by young Amanda Seyfried in her best performance in a movie, which may also give her memories of awards season. According to reports, David Fincher “downloaded” Stanley Kubrick and sold out his actors, notably Oldman and Seyfried, sometimes requiring hundreds of shots of the same scene. The filmmaker wanted perfection, in what is his work closest to the chest and which specialists already call his best work. Such a commitment is always welcomed by voting members of the Academy. Although, as said, Mank is not a recommended movie for everyone, and can lead to difficult consumption.

Fincher made a point of filming in glorious black and white, and inserting jokes that make it feel like we are watching a production from the same period that the story takes place, such as, for example, the failures in the printing of the rolls of movie, and scene changes. Even the usual collaborators Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross were commissioned to create the soundtrack using only the musical instruments that would be available at the time, that is, around the turn of the 1930s to 1940s. it’s not genius perfectionism… So we have a film that exudes real beauty, texture and sounds (even with mono sound required) authentic.

As said, there’s a lot to be found in Mank, and the film always discusses political views, inserting current parallels in the dispute between Republicans and Democrats, and even socialism versus communism. Mank, a highly reprehensible figure in the public eye, lived his own way, true to his ideals, despite being the owner of self-destructive tendencies that ended up costing him his life at 55. We managed to even buy the idea of ​​Oldman, over 60, playing someone in their 40s.

With Mank, David Fincher throws the spotlight on a figure who has always been in the shadows, denied his greatest achievement. Recognition and ode to an artist who is at the origin of one of the great Hollywood clans. By exorcising the subject, Fincher also washes the soul of his own family, finally realizing his father’s dream of having one of his scripts filmed. If only for that, Mank would already be one of the most valuable films of 2020. But luckily those involved are still delivering one of the most luxurious works of this season which not only reaffirms David Fincher as the ‘one of the best filmmakers in business, but also the power of freedom. bestowed on its directors by previously marginalized Netflix – certainly already in the inner circle of affection of the film industry.

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