Today fellow film buffs, I am going out on a limb. I only know one other person who has seen this week’s film, and they hated it. I, however, loved it. So here I am trying to persuade you gorgeous people (well, some of you anyway) to give it a whirl, so to speak. The film I am talking about is “Mank”. It is the ‘true’ story of how the writer Herman J. Mankiewicz came to co-write the screenplay for ‘Citizen Kane’.
‘Citizen Kane’ was Orson Welles’ first ever film and was released in nineteen forty-one. It has often been described as the best film ever made by both British and American film institutes. It received nine Oscar nominations at the time, but sadly only received one for best screenplay. Which went jointly to Mankiewicz and Welles.
Before we go any further I feel I ought to make a teeny-weeny confession. I have never seen ‘Citizen Kane’. I know, stop it, you are shocked aren’t you? I can tell. To make this a full-blown confession I can also add ‘Casablanca’, ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Psycho’ to the list of classic films that have passed me by. Ask me what I thought of the nineteen thirty Japanese silent film ‘Aiyoku no ki‘ directed by Heinosuke Gosho and I could literally bore you to tears. But there are large gaps in my film knowledge, of that I am more than aware. The reason I am sharing this little morsel of information with you is to let you know that you do not have to have seen ‘Citizen Kane’ to appreciate the brilliance that is ‘Mank’. Which, incidentally, is up for ten Oscar nominations this year, one more than ‘Citizen Kane’.
Anyone familiar with the work of the director David Fincher will know what to expect. The man that brought us such gems as ‘Fight Club’, ‘Seven’ and ‘The Social Network’ has not disappointed with his latest effort. Interestingly, David’s father Jack Fincher wrote the screenplay in the nineteen nineties, but it was not until two thousand and nineteen, sixteen years after Jack’s death, that filming started. The screenplay fizzes on the screen, with the sublime Gary Oldman stealing many a great line as the alcoholic and belligerent Mankiewicz. An Oscar-worthy performance if ever there was one, but in my mind, the fact he already owns a little gold statue for his incredible performance in ‘The Darkest Hour’ a few years ago as Winston Churchill, means that my money is on Anthony Hopkins this year for ‘The Father’. Watch this space.
I do not want to give too much away regarding the storyline, or the life and struggles of Mankiewicz, but I will try and persuade you with a few technical pointers. It’s beautifully shot in black and white and almost feels like a lost film reel from the nineteen forties at times. Every actor is perfectly cast and they all give stellar performances. And David Fincher has chosen to work again with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross from ‘Nine Inch Nails’. The soundtrack is perfect, at times it even sounds like it may have been written and recorded in the nineteen-thirties. Superb
The main premise of the film, and what made David Fincher so interested, was the idea that Mankiewicz initially agreed to have his name left off the writing credits. Until he finished it, upon which he declared it the best thing he had ever written and demanded joint billing. Which he got. Along with his Oscar. The moral of the story, stand up for what you believe in.
I understand that not all things are for all people. It is what makes this journey through life so fascinating, no? I have never been one to argue with someone who disagrees with my love of a particular film. In fact, I almost prefer the discussion about differences of opinion, than to those ideas identical to mine. So, having said that, I invite any of you wonderful people who do decide to sit down and feast your eyes on ‘Mank’ to give me your honest opinion. And I mean honest. I await with bated breath.