Mank (2020) Poster


User Reviews

Review this title
419 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Okay but disappointing
grantss5 December 2020
1940. Film studio RKO hires 24-year-old wunderkind Orson Welles under a contract that gives him full creative control of his movies. For his first film he calls in washed up alcoholic Herman J Mankiewicz to write the screenplay. That film is Citizen Kane and this is the story of how it was written.

I was quite excited at the release of this movie. Citizen Kane is one of the greatest films of all time and the making of it deserves a movie. And here we have it, directed by the great David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac, The Social Network, Gone Girl, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) no less and with a good cast - Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Charles Dance, Lily Collins. Surely a recipe for a masterpiece?

Unfortunately, no. On the plus side, the story is reasonably interesting and the cast put in solid performances. Fincher's direction is spot-on, with the black-and-white cinematography an homage to Citizen Kane.

However, the plot is never very engaging. The story never really finds a centre and pretty much drifts along. It's not dull but has a listlessness to it nonetheless. The flashbacks, while adding information, don't help the momentum either, resulting in a start-stop feel to the main plot and a bit of confusion at times.

The conclusion is also a damp squib and is disparaging to one of the greatest creative forces in the history of cinema. It smacks of trying to make a controversy out of nothing.

Overall it's okay, but nothing more.
312 out of 398 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A self-absorbed film that doesn't care about it's audience
arabnikita5 December 2020
Citizen Kane is a name often thrown around as one of the greatest achievements in filmmaking. And to be honest, it is a work of art which is a must see for film fans. When news came out that David Fincher was making a movie about the writing of Citizen Kane with Gary Oldman as the main star, I was curious about it. This morning, I sat, watched and wondered what was the purpose of this movie?

You must be an absolute fan of 30s hollywood, know the names of everyone who worked back then and really care about the little snippets of Citizen Kane's background history to admire this picture. If you don't tick all 3 of these criteria, you are highly unlikely to enjoy or even endure it. It is a film about the writing of another film and if Fincher's name wasn't attached to it, most people would have never even noticed it.

I don't particularly hate this film, just find it extremely niche, self-absorbed and average. Despite formidable directing, there is nothing Fincheresque about it, just a black and white movie with decent visuals and respectable acting. The film lacks intrigue, drama or anything human to keep you engaged for 2+ hours. The movie drops random names, jumps in time and crawls at a turtle pace thinking that the audience cares about the inner workings of MGM studios and California elections in 1930s.

While Citizen Kane is a highly enjoyable classic, Mank on the other hand, is extremely full of itself and is nothing but a high class Oscar bait. It is one thing to make an artistic film but it is a whole different thing to make a monotonous story without a heart that requires the audience to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of 30s Hollywood. I hope people who are giving it 10s and 9s are being honest with themselves.

Movies.shmovies on Instagram
419 out of 561 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Would have preferred season three of Mindhunter
gabore9-428-2226704 December 2020
Very well made movie, great acting, but out of the more than 2 hour runtime I cared about the story for about 20 minutes. A lot of effort went into this, could have been about something a bit more interesting
233 out of 314 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Mank is the movie Orson Welles would have made if he had absolutely nothing to say
cherold17 December 2020
Mank is a movie aimed squarely at film buffs that tells the story of the writing of Citizen Kane. I am a film buff. I love Citizen Kane. I am this movie's target audience. It is bad as a movie, and worse as a movie eager to be compared with the works of Orson Welles.

In the film, Gary Oldman plays alcoholic scriptwriter Herman Mankiewicz, who holes up in the middle of nowhere with a broken leg and the assignment to write a full script in a month. He bases the script on the life of powerful millionaire William Randolph Hearst. In flashbacks, we see Mank's dissolute life as a screenwriter, drunk, and witticism machine, as well as his friendship with Hearst's mistress, Marion Davies.

1. Mank as a movie

I want to take about Mank's failures as a film for film buffs and it's failures as Welles-lite, but I don't want that to get in the way of the most important point, which is that this movie is simply dull. Oldham is persuasive as Mank, but the character is like one played by Thomas Mitchell in old 40s movie; a side character whose witticisms are fun but never make you want to find out what makes him tick.

The alcoholic writer isn't an inherently uninteresting subject, but it's also not an inherently interesting one, and the movie doesn't give us any particular reason to care about Mank. The flashbacks are sometimes interesting and sometimes not, but in neither case do they change the movie from basically being a guy in a house typing and getting blackout drunk. There is nothing within the movie that makes you curious about the characters or the situation - the only thing that kept me watching was curiosity about Citizen Kane, and if I'd never seen that movie I wouldn't have finished this one. The acting is good, and Amanda Seyfried is actually exceptionally good as Davies, but there's really not much to this at all. It doesn't pull you in at the start, and the end feels as meh as the rest of it.

2. Mank as a film buff movie

The best thing about Mank is the gorgeous black-and-white cinematography, which does a dead-on impression of Greg Toland's work in Citizen Kane, down to emulating specific scenes. Set and costume design are also first-rate.

But as behind-the-scenes look into Citizen Kane the movie is a failure. One thing I wanted to know was why, if Mank was friends with Hearst and with Davies, he turned on them so savagely.

Some say that the treatment of Davies was the thing that most harmed Kane most of all. True, Not only was it reportedly the main reason Hearst wanted to destroy the movie, but Davies, a talented light comedian pushed into inappropriate roles by her sugar daddy, was charming and well-liked (which Seyfried captures wonderfully) and threw big Hollywood parties and because of that, Hollywood would not rally around Kane as Hearst attacked it. Even Welles admitted, years later, that he had been unfair to Davies.

So why did Mank trash her? The movie offers a simplistic answer involving Upton Sinclair that doesn't make much sense and, when I researched it, isn't remotely what happened. There is no thoughtful attempt to consider why a writer would use his friends as grist for the mill, even though other writers have successfully looked at the very subject without reducing it all to petty, self-righteous vengeance.

The movie also falls onto the long-exploded Pauline Kael side of the who-wrote-Kane debate, suggesting Welles did pretty much nothing on the script. A little research shows scholars have conclusively refuted this (one of the top of the "most helpful" IMDB user reviews gives a good overview of this).

The only reason I kept with this movie was for the real-life story that it couldn't bother to tell.

3. Mank vs. Orson Welles

By making a movie about Citizen Kane, and making it look just like Citizen Kane, director David Fincher would seem to be *daring* people to compare his work with Welles. But it falls short of Welles work in every non-superficial way.

Welles was certainly a big fan of flashy cinematography. He could be gimmicky. But there was always intent to it. Gimmicks were always both "oh, cool!" and "look how that emphasizes the point he's making in a fresh way."

Beyond the flash, Welles was a filmmaker who never gave you all the answers. He gave you clues. Citizen Kane is about the search for Rosebud, but once you know what it is, you still don't know Kane. It's another clue, but it's up to the viewer to decide how to sort these clues. Welles gave you jigsaw puzzles with some pieces missing and some extra pieces. It was true of Kane and pretty much everything he did through his final film, The Other Side of the Wind. Welles did not consider people explicable. They lie about their motives to others and themselves, they change from moment to moment and year to year. It is the complexity, not the cinematographic tricks, that make Welles one of history's greatest filmmakers.

But Fincher's Mank isn't complex at all. His story arc is straightforward. He's a brilliant drunk. His motives are simplistic. He's self-destructive in a predictable fashion. Like all of us he has his good points and his bad points, moments of spite and moments of grace, but then, so does every character in a Hallmark movie.

And the gimmicks in Mank are just gimmicks. If you know Kane's opening scene you'll recognize the falling whisky glass as a callback, but what does it say? Not a thing. Not. One. Single. Thing.

Mank is a dull, unimaginative film that is infuriating because it has so many of the hallmarks of a good one. That makes it feel like a cheat. I regret watching it, and recommend everyone skip it.
48 out of 63 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An historically innaccurate tour de force,
ahicks-23 December 2020
Like Oliver Stone's "JFK a masterfully executed distortion of history Fine acting and cinematography, but no comparison to those of "Citizen Kane."

Fincher's villainization in MANK of Welles as a plagiarist runs contrary to the facts. To quote Robert Carringer, the expert on the matter: "A virtually complete set of script records for Citizen Kane has been pre- served in the archives of RKO General Pictures in Hollywood, and these provide almost a day-to-day record of the history of the scripting. Once this record is reconstructed and all the available pieces of evidence are matched to it, a reasonably clear picture emerges of who was responsible for what in the final script. The full evidence reveals that Welles' contribution to the Citizen Kane script was not only substantial but definitive (370)... "Herman Mankiewicz's principal contribution to the Citizen Kane script was made in the early stages at Victorville. The Victorville scripts elaborated the plot logic and laid down the overall story contours (398).... The Mankiewicz partisans would have us believe that this is the heart of the matter and that by the end of Victorville the essential part of the scripting was complete. Quite the contrary... Major revisions begin as soon as the script passes into Welles' hands, and several important lines of development can be discerned in sub- sequent phases of the scripting. One of these is the elimination of dramatically questionable material, especially of a large amount of material drawn from Hearst. Another is a fundamental alteration of the nature of many of the scenes; this may be described generally as a shift from scenes played continuously to scenes fragmented according to montage conceptions" (399). (Here, the evolution of Mankiewicz's rather humdrum scenes involving Kane and Emily into the film's concise, witty, montage is a perfect example.), Yet another is the evolution of Charles Foster Kane as a character. The principal strategy is the replaying of certain key situa tions and moments in his life over and over again as a means of testing and discovering the character (399)....":Not even the staunchest defenders of Mankiewicz would deny that Welles was principally responsible for the realization of the film. But in light of the evidence, it may be they will also have to grant him principal responsibility for the realization of the script" (400)." (See Robert L. Carringer. "The Scripts of 'Citizen Kane.'" Critical Inquiry, Vol. 5, No. 2, 1978pp. 369-400; Also cf. The Making of Citizen Kane, 985). More interpretively. Welles was preponderantly an adapter of others work, whether from Shakespeare, lesser classics or thrillers, whether for radio theater, stage theater or film. "Citizen Kane" can be viewed as Welles' adaptation of Mankiewicz's ungainly, 250-page "American," his first "script" for "Kane."
129 out of 182 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Sadly overwrought and underwhelmed
secondtake16 December 2020
Mank (2020)

The movie that everyone wants to like. But why?

Oh, Gary Oldman as Mankewitz is rather terrific. And the subject matter should hold water, concerning William Randolf Hearst and that 1930s world of excess, not to mention Orson Welles and that obvious Citizen Kane connection.

But there are so many scenes where the writer is straining to make sure the audience is keeping up with things, for example giving us first names (and variations on first names) to clue us in on who is who. The strain of having to inform the audience chokes the intended authenticity. The scene early on where some screenwriters (including Ben Hecht) are chatting about screenplays and ideas is so forced it's embarrassing-especially since it's about screenwriting.

The movie has its beauty, for sure, filmed in greyish black and white that is a softened, more detailed version of classic Hollywood. Films from the time it is set, mid-1930s to 1940, are noticably "harder" in tonality, meaning deeper blacks and more overall contrast. Citizen Kane is a prime example. It's worth noting that the photography for "Mank" is generally very poised and luminous, lots of backlighting and delineated grey scales, not much like the photography in Kane.

Now you might expect the film to grow into its own vocabulary, to have a style of its own whatever the borrowings of its substance. But no, the script is stubbornly derivative and simplistic (almost as if the writers were in their 20s and just discovering Hollywood, and literature). And the reason for this is as old as the hills-the son David Fincher is adapting the screenplay of his beloved departed father, Jack Fincher. A natural mistake, but not one to put $50,000,000 on.

The plot, what little there actually is, blunders along, dull as pancakes in July. The cliches abound, the supporting cast spouts obvious quips, and the name-dropping is endless and revealing. I do love Citizen Kane, and admire Welles, and I also greatly admire many of Fincher's films on another level, so it all is a disappointment.

The saving grace is certainly Oldman, who acts his heart out, and sustains many scenes, even ones that don't offer much worth saving. True, he's a 62 year old playing the part of a man between 37 and 42, roughly, and that doesn't help. But he's committed and complex. A good job.

And the movie isn't a total wreck...but with all the hype, it really deflates and confounds. How and why, with all this talent, did it end up so underachieving? Or then again, who really cares?
44 out of 58 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
It's not a Documentary...
Xstal10 December 2020
... just as CK wasn't, so if you enjoy expending time and energy reviewing and commenting on a work of fiction as if it were moulded and forged from the past verbatim, you really need to reconsider how you approach and view the world of cinema and film - perhaps life in general! Perspective, interpretation and imagination are the keywords and, on this occasion, it helps if you have an interest or familiarity with some, not all, of the characters portrayed and the products of their toil and travails - as this will definitely impact your view on the rendering which, in my opinion, was enhanced by a spectacular performance from Gary Oldman, further elevated and reinforced by three stunning constructions from the supporting ladies and embellished with my ability to acknowledge fact from fiction in the name of entertainment. Watch a documentary or read a biography if you want to be educated!
62 out of 87 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Boring And Incoherent
atractiveeyes5 December 2020
I was so looking forward for this film but it turns out to be really disappointing. Well, it's so beautifully artsy with amazing cinematography, many stunning shots, beautiful locations and costumes, awesome Hollywood vibes, and brilliant performances by everyone. But unfortunately all of that didn't save the movie because of its bad script. The plot is incoherent, messy, and disturbing. I really felt so confused at certain points. Mank is obviously a very well made movie but I hated it, it's just boring and uninteresting to me. What a missed opportunity!
150 out of 223 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Sometimes the underdog is just the underdog
dierregi6 December 2020
Much as I wanted to like this film, I didn't. Even if I love B&M movies of the 40s, sharp dialogues and I watched Citizen Kane at least three times.

I liked the photography playing a tribute to Citizen Kane, with dark, cavernous, sinister settings and also the few moments when Tom Burke (as Orson Welles) was on screen, which was not often enough.

We're supposed to believe that drunkard Herman Mankiewicz, brother of the more famous and accomplished Joseph, was actually the only scriptwriter genius behind C.K. The plot twist is that Mank used to be an entertaining figure in Randolph Hearst entourage, but the relationship turned sour and Mank wrote Citizen Kane as a revenge.

Mank had a reputation as a witty man, but none of his scripts were successful and his career was second rate. However in Fincher's version, Mank takes center stage and writes the Oscar-winning script while recovering from an accident and temporarily drying out.

The story is told in innumerable flashbacks from which you gather Mank was a resentful drunk who unleashed his sarcasm on everybody and thought he was entitled to a better career. Unfortunately, he seems moved only by envy and I felt no sympathy.

Besides the occasional sparkle, since most characters in the movie are completely forgotten, it's hard to understand fully the circumstances. The only clear things are that Mank himself did not deserve a whole movie and 2/3 of this are a snooze-feast.
89 out of 131 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Disappointingly slow and dull.
grassman475 December 2020
The characters and the subject matter made this a film I was looking forward to seeing. I watched for the first 40 minutes and then gave up as I sensed it wasn't going to get any better. Gary Oldman mumbled incoherently and just wasn't sufficiently engaging for me to care what happened to him. An opportunity missed. Manky.
80 out of 122 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Disappointment of the year
melnar116 December 2020
Being over 80, I am conversant with such personalities as Irving Thalberg, Louis B. Mayer, Mankiewicz himself, David O. Selznick, William Randolph Hearst, Orson Welles etc., and I thought I would be watching a wonderful film about all these personalities. The film, however, was extremely badly planned and assembled, resulting in an almost unwatchable, and totally boring movie. In my book, a good movie is one that I'd be able to watch and enjoy repeatedly. This is not one of them.

Emphatically not recommended.
67 out of 102 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Solid slice of early film history
bastille-852-73154721 November 2020
I'm a huge fan of both "Citizen Kane" as well as David Fincher's films, so I was extremely excited to see this. Because of how much I enjoy Fincher's films as well as how good the trailers looked, I wanted to (safely) see it on a big screen rather than wait until Netflix. Needless to say, this is a good movie, but not a great one--and it does not quite live up to the quality one would expect from a Fincher film.

The story focuses on Herman Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman,) the screenwriter who worked--often tempestuously--with Orson Welles to write "Citizen Kane." However, the amount of time the film spends on material related to "Citizen Kane" is relatively little. Instead, the film tends to focus more on Mank's political activity, personal life, ascent into the movie business, and alcoholism throughout the 1930s. Oldman does a good job playing Mank, and is completely believable in the role. As one can expect from a Fincher film, the editing and cinematography are top-notch. The stylish, black-and-white aesthetic that feels both slightly understated (in the best way possible) and posh is beautifully complemented by a relatively steady camera and editing techniques common to films of the 1930s and 40s. The screenplay is generally well-written as well, although it doesn't feel as taut as you would expect in a Fincher picture, and the leisurely pacing is very well done.

Despite these strong qualities, "Mank" unfortunately is not quite great. The film develops Mank as a character, but he is portrayed in too static of a manner to really make for an engaging protagonist, or even one that can simply have clear ripple effects on the rest of the film's narrative and the characters around him. His characterization is not especially interesting. Fincher probably uses flashbacks a bit too much in the story, as many of the flashbacks to the early 1930s don't do too much to provide additional context to Mank as a character or the time period as a whole. Also, the supporting characters (such as the roles played by Amanda Seyfried and Lilly Collins) are not especially well-developed. As a result, the film doesn't completely work as a character study. However, it is still a generally well-acted and well-shot depiction of early film history that is worth seeing for viewers interested in the subject matter. 7/10
80 out of 124 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An incoherent, shambling mess
soundoflight22 November 2020
If you took a group of random movie fans, all familiar with David Fincher's work, sat them in a theater, showed them this film sans-credits, and then asked them at the end "who directed it?" not one of them would say "David Fincher." This film is missing every single aspect that people loved about all his previous work.

There is no mystery here. There is little drama. It's a film about the writing of a film, and it comes across about as boring as that sounds. To be fair, "Mank" never really sells itself as anything different, but seeing the Fincher name and the (ridiculously inflated) IMDB score was enough to make me think there must be something more here. Or maybe I just didn't understand it, because I certainly felt like much of the film was flying over my head, with all of the time jumps, characters appearing with little explanation like we were supposed to know who they were, and the constant 'name drops' in the dialogue of prominent people from the 1930s hollywood and political scene. For me this last one was the fatal flaw. The film takes for granted that the viewer will know all these names and backstories of people that are now obscure and long forgotten. So the entire film from start to finish has these references to contemporary people and politics flying over our heads, leaving us bewildered in their wake. If one hasn't actually seen Citizen Kane a couple times and doesn't have some rudimentary knowledge of Orson Welles, then this experience would only quadruple, as the film constantly references Citizen Kane without mentioning it by name. This film essentially has a pre-requisite: you must watch Citizen Kane first, or it will make absolutely no sense to you.

But the most glaring thing missing from "Mank" is the distinctive dark and brooding style that Fincher has cultivated over the course of his career and that is entirely absent here. Going in, I was excited to see how Fincher would translate his style over to black and white. The answer is that he doesn't. It's just a standard black and white film. And while it looks good, I was left underwhelmed by the cinematography all the same. Something about it made me feel like it was 'made for Netflix.' In fact, the first jarring realization I had in the theater is that I was watching something in standard 16:9 wide televesion aspect ratio. Not cinemascope or widescreen. Digital, not film. It felt like watching a crummy made for Netflix movie in a theater. And I quickly realized that's exactly what I was doing.
172 out of 288 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A Story about Story...and Politics
ceidt28 December 2020
My favorite film of the year is one I'm biased to choose.

Let me tell you about my bias. If I go to a new film directed by one of my favorite directors, I go in having a great amount of trust. I mean, I feel safe. What I know, given to me by my trust, allows all other expectations to wait for me elsewhere while I truly live in-the-moment for the duration of the experience. I'm not always sitting down for a piece of entertainment, although one can always hope, as this should be the least of expectations. I'm not always hoping to enjoy what I'm about to watch, though. But when I sit down for a David Fincher movie, who is the finest director working today, there is no safety (this is "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" director). Where I trust knowing that nobody else could do it better.

My bias here...with "Mank"...has me very conflicted. Not only is it masterful movie making, but the story elements touch on politics and religion in such a manner that the writing feels like it's speaking just to me (these are, after all, two fascinating topics to the writer you're now reading). And not only that, but he's doing so in a charming classic-styled way that you'd see in movies like "Sunset Boulevard" (which is also about "old Hollywood"), which is to say not only are you being told stories in a lovingly entertaining way, but it's as if an old friend is using his grand dialect that friends of his describe as an art form. Gary Oldman fills this position splendidly as Mank himself surely did. "Mank" that great? I just biased?

Is "Citizen Kane" required viewing? Citizen "Mank" serves not as a prequel, but more as a spiritual remake to the RKO Pictures classic. Let me offer some brutal honesty, here: I don't care about "casual audiences." Movies should be made for movie lovers (music seems made for specific fans as well), and I have little patience for people who choose to "Netflix n chill" (okay, I'm guilty here) or, worse, just put a movie on as a preventative measure against feeling lonely without background noise. Gotta say, on that note, "Mank" would be a pretty lovely radio show.

These times, they are a-changin'. I'm talkin' new Hollywood. I'm talkin' "old" Hollywood. "Mank" is a fast-talking charmer of the sort you would find commonplace in a good "classics" section organized by Netflix IF Netflix ever put such a worthy effort into showing their viewers real movies (Turner Classic Movies does a better job on HBO Max, and it's still pitiful). It's a sad world they've created when a David Fincher movie can't stay in the top 10 list on Netflix (it dropped off after day one) seemingly because of a lack of color.

Simply put, David Fincher (no stranger to biopics, he's the director of "The Social Network," and if I may call it a biopic, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button") saw the future when he imagined the power of Netflix. The entertainment giant backed him for a political satire called "House of Cards," making content produced by Netflix a force to be reckoned with. Now, they're almost killing themselves with such an overwhelming output that their own movies are easily lost in the shuffle (and is it just me, or does everything, even a 3 1/2 hour Scorsese picture, feel "made-for-tv?"). David Fincher (who also directed "Se7en" and "Zodiac") came back with another show for Netflix that he enjoyed directing called "Mindhunter," which is another brilliant concept, endlessly fascinating, but a Season 3 isn't even promised or guaranteed. Contracts no longer exist for it.

Now, with a big middle finger to Hollywood itself, Fincher is using his late father's script (surely a passion project) to show how easily Hollywood was and can be changed with his first-ever straight-to-the-small-screen film, "Mank." (His last effort was the anti-love story about two narcissists who get stuck in marriage by politics, "Gone Girl") This one, like his Netflix shows, is also centered by politics.

Set in the aftermath of the depression, the brutality of the affects is background for this picture. Hollywood writers, however, are making great money for people to spend their very hard-earned nickels and quarters on. The transition to "talkies" has been made, after all, so "anyone who can put three words together" is being called upon. Our main character, Mank, a screenwriter for the movies (he claims to be washed-up, no longer talented enough to do better than movies), has insight into the propaganda that became a common practice for Hollywood directors (and even more so for foreign film people, especially in Germany where their people would believe anything that was repeated enough, not unlike our red-hat-wearing fellow citizens these past four years). The propaganda of the day is vital to the style of picture "Citizen Kane" became, which is the film Orson Welles hired Mank to write about the real-life newspaper tycoon, William Hearst (not exactly a man who would gag on a silver spoon). "Citizen Kane" became famous for the multi-perspectives and fancy camera work mixed with quick-cuts and invisible special effects all working together to create some of the greatest story-telling techniques ever that would revolutionize Hollywood...but what also invests people into the world of "Citizen Kane" is the believable "newsreel"-style footage that begins the 1941 picture that is known to be "perfect," a very rare label appropriate for anything on film. Newsreel footage, shown here to be inspired by real "fake news." Remember, Orson Welles was no stranger to using realism to sell his product. This is the same man who made headlines for a science-fiction radio play ("War of the Worlds") that literally frightened listeners into believing aliens had invaded Earth (I'm unclear if this was literally literal, but I have seen the headlines, whether they were "fake news" or not).

Herman J. Mankiewicz, or "Mank," is the writer behind the show, a credit that also went to the infamous Orson Welles for the sole Academy Award the film won (Academy voters were apparently unaware of the legacy the picture would have). Welles, who directed "Kane" and hired Mank to write it. "Mank," as told by Jack Fincher (again, David's father), seeks to deny Welles this credit, rejecting any chance for a "love letter" to the film or Hollywood (Welles was decidedly anti-Hollywood anyway, described here as an "outsider"), but more like a warning not to believe everything we see and hear (always good advice, but be wary of people who tell you not to believe ANYthing you see and hear). In one atmospheric scene of the Fincher film, we're on a beach listening to radio. An interviewee is declaring her stance on exactly why she's voting Republican in the next election, complete with a story of her own victimhood. Our main character and his lovely date then suddenly recognize the voice of said Republican voter (no doubt she could now be considered a method actor as it seems unlikely she would actually be voting for the "socialist" on the Democrat ticket). She's an actress, not just a voter, and nothing of the sort she claimed to be. "I'd recognize that voice anywhere," says Mank, listening to the sorry voice of America that is as fake as the character she's playing.

Upton Sinclair (surprisingly played by...Bill Nye?) loses the election in 1934, believing the "phony newsreels" to be the fatal blows to his campaign. Mank, a fan, blames FDR, reminding us of the "hero" that would soon come to the rescue (a man who actually forced corporations and churches into anti-socialist efforts, bringing us to the divided states of America we see today, which is sadly not an irrelevant fact pertaining to this film...especially considering corporations have nearly destroyed today's Hollywood...and thanks to this virus, we're getting an advanced look at what could become of movie theaters).

The film is presented in a glorious 4K version, and a color version doesn't even exist. This is meant to not only show the 1930s, but feel like a film from the era, too. The soundtrack is complete with the sounds of film scratches and audio flaws, and the picture itself is marked-up with what characters in "Fight Club" (another Fincher picture) called "cigarette burns." "Mank" will be remembered as one of Fincher's less accessible films (people are avoiding this not only because of a lack of color, but it is quite the "talkie"), made for writers more than cinephiles (which I wish were given more attention, although "old Hollywood" is given screen time even though it feels like less than a cameo). I kept waiting for visual sequences a la David Fincher prior, almost forgetting that the style of the film itself was presenting to me a visual feast. Every frame of a Fincher picture a painting. Each is carefully crafted (he normally certainly pays his dues to the auteur of "pure cinema," Alfred Hitchcock), and yet it's not unusual for his scripts to keep our eyes glued to the screen. It is written for political junkies as well, sure, but ultimately this is a story about story. Story itself is used to tell about story itself. Where do stories come from? That's THE question this flick answers using one of the best movies of all time.

Just don't ask about "Rosebud."
16 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
This is not Fincher
gabo_alepb5 December 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Th movie is a mess. Every single review I have read says it is a masterpiece or the best Fincher movie ever. There's no element that point to the director signature. It is a bland, predictable, boring and poorly acted film. The B&W only exacerbates how bland this film is. The constant flashback gimmick is tiresome. The extreme manerism and vintage vocalizations from actors is distracting and take performances from fully develope. It is not historically accurate, but Oliver Stone's JFK proved a film can create it's own aspect of reality by giving a tour de force, Mank is just it's own aspect of reality in a wheelchair, overweight and on sleeping pills. Where is the Social Network fast violent pace? Where is Gone Girl political incorrection? Where is Seven drama and surprise? Nowhere. This felt like a documentary with situation re-enactments.
83 out of 139 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Another Anti-Welles biopic... Does Hearst still Run Hollywood?
TheFearmakers5 December 2020
For some reason whenever there's a movie about or centering around Orson Welles he's always a villainous man-child, and this is no different... In real life, Mank was Welles's favorite scriptwriter and they loved each other but here they eventually become pitted enemies...

Also, something about these Hollywood period pieces: They don't build a story about a person like Mank so we can get to know him and learn about him, which needs to happen since no one knows about him except hardcore movie fans... Instead there's this conceited drollness that assumes we're gonna love the character right off the bat because he's so... conceited and droll and sarcastic...

Here they shove this boozing anti-hero in our faces without explaining what he's up against, or why he's a boozing anti-hero in the first place... It's as if the audience will adore him since it's Gary Oldman being directed by David Fincher... This Self-Aware Cinema, refusing to do any real work to enlighten the audience, is just tiresome...

For a cinematic guy like Fincher, this entire movie looks and feels like a cable movie, which it is, actually, during a pandemic without theaters... And that's not entirely bad because the best stuff is on the small screen nowadays...

But there's also a lack of urgency that Fincher's provided in the past, and the whole thing, again, plays out like yet another hatchet job against Orson Welles... Making it seem like Randy Hearst is still in charge of things, and...

Don't you all know, it was WELLES AND MANK who toppled that braindead regime?
107 out of 189 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Wow. Is this really you, David Fincher?
Wow. How the creator of Se7en, Gone Girl, and The Social Network decided to make such a boring film that every second is screaming: "I'm important and artistic!" When the audiences are probably like: "Ok, dude, let me sleep." MANK (2020) is not an awful film. It has a lot of great shots and technical achievements. But Damn. This film is overrated. Really, Really, Overrated. and that script? Yikes.
75 out of 130 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
What a marvel !
nurgalini15 November 2020
After reading a few early reviews from some of the renowned film critics, who talked about Fincher's genius on one side and inaccessibility of the film to the general public on another, I became a little bit sceptical that this film would actually deliver. But did it deliver! The film is a technical masterpiece with a compelling story and career defining performances from Seyfried and Oldman! This film is Fincher's best work to date and one of the greatest films of the last decade! An absolute marvel of a film!
134 out of 244 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
cameronthorne14 December 2020
2020 has been a dull year in cinema with very few anticipated films to release this year. However, the movies that are anticipated have been... well... disappointing such as Tenet and unfortunately -- Mank.

David Fincher is one of the best working directors with fantastic films such as Se7en, Fight Club, The Social Network, Zodiac, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera and luckily enough, he once again went above and beyond and made this movie all the more watchable. When it was announced that David Fincher would be directing another biopic (after the hugely successful Social Network) I -- like many others -- was ecstatic. In preparation for the "New David Fincher Film" I went back and watched his entire catalog of films. Each of his films (with the exception of Alien 3) is HIS film -- it belongs to him. With the notable yellow/blues, wide shots, static camera and the especially intriguing material, his movies are masterpieces. Then I grew worried. Mank was sounding less and less like David Fincher's other movies. It is okay to make something new and different but I wanted more dark and suspense-filled cinema. Mank was not that -- which was not a bad thing and in fact, he pulled it off! Stylistically the movie is a masterpiece but the material felt empty and that became Mank's downfall.

With a David Fincher movie it is unlikely to be disengaged yet during Mank I found myself getting distracted, antsy, and even checking the time! I was confused and disappointed. The acting was great, the directing was once again great, I did not know what it was that was causing me to be so bored, then it hit me: nothing happened. "You cannot capture a man's life in two hours. All you can hope is to leave the impression of one." The movie was called "Mank," I was expecting a thorough analysis on Mank -- but I was not even left "the impression" of Mank. He was an alcoholic and wrote Citizen Kane... that was really it.

The directing and acting make this movie worth a 7/10. The story had potential but did not fulfill expectations. It is stylish, playful, well edited and an homage (not love letter) to 30s Hollywood making it worth a watch -- I continue to look forward to future work from David Fincher and his upcoming remake "Strangers".

35 out of 57 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Sorry, once again, I found the last movie of a great director boring!
jpt-225564 December 2020
After Roma and Irishman, I couldn't help it: I found Mank absolutely boring. Formally brilliant but awfully boring. Am I the only one on this planet to think this way? If it's the case, I won't write any review again, promised!
86 out of 156 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Playful and atmospheric - Mank fires on all cylinders
Noel_dasilva22 November 2020
Let me start off by saying that this movie is not going to be for everyone, and I fully understand if anyone ends up feeling bored or dislikes the movie. It's wordy, complicated and doesn't try to push the audience in any particular direction. I however loved it.

There are very few things Mank doesn't achieve in an almost perfect fashion, this is a passion project and a love letter of the highest caliber. The acting is superb all around, Gary Oldman delivers one of his absolute best roles ever perfectly embodying the tormented but talented Mank, Seyfried shines as a cleverer than you think movie star and everyone else helps you forget you're not watching the real persons themselves.

The biggest highlight of this movie however is the incredible visuals, the best cinematography Oscar is practically in the bag already. Very seldom do you watch something that so perfectly captures a different era, this one being of the old Hollywoodland, with great compositions, lighting and mood this is truly a feast for the eyes in every possible way! I truly felt transported to another world and what i wouldn't do to experience that old Hollywood glamour just for one night, corruption and backstabbing aside!

There are many more things to discuss but I'll leave it to you to experience this firsthand, overall this is an excellent return to the big screen for David Fincher and Im beyond excited to see what he can cook up next. Highly recommend!

Score: 9/10
40 out of 68 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Another masterpiece from Fincher
smithjordan-6965418 November 2020
With Mank, Fincher is able to capture the essence of Citizen Kane. It is widely regarded that Citizen Kane is one of the greatest movies ever made. Orson Welles managed to create this masterpiece during his first spin in moviemaking: writing, directing, and producing it on his own. What many people don't know, and what Fincher is trying to tell us, is that the screenplay was primarily written by Herman J. Mankiewicz. Starring as the titular Mank is Gary Oldman, in another Oscar worthy role. Tom Burke plays the legendary Orson Welles, portraying him as kind of an annoying show off. Of course, Welles had a right to be prideful, he was making the greatest movie ever made. Fincher's Directing is sublime, I'm hoping with this he can finally win the coveted best director Oscar, which he surprisingly hasn't won yet. Also the cinematography is spot on, perfectly matching the feel of Citizen Kane. Ultimately this is a must watch for movie fans and i would be very surprised if we don't see plenty of this movie during awards season.
78 out of 147 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Eric148521 November 2020
"This is a business where the buyer gets nothing for his money but a memory. What he bought still belongs to the man he who sold it. That's the real magic of the movies."

David Fincher puts it all on the line in his latest film, Mank. The result is a gorgeous and heartfelt film that takes the viewer back to 1930's-40's Hollywood.

Gary Oldman is great as the cynical, alcoholic writer who has no filter and rarely has anything nice to say. He is surrounded by a terrific supporting cast that makes each scene and interaction truly enjoyable. It is obvious that everyone involved in this project, took thier roles seriously.

This is a much different film than the gritty, violent, and dark pictures Fincher has become known for. However, the attention to detail, editing, gorgeous cinematography, and use of lighting and sound is still as effective as ever.

I expect Mank to be popular when the Academy Award nominations are announced, as it deserves.
40 out of 71 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Strangely flat
ignastio18 December 2020
This is a strange one. It's a very well made film, with good performances and some great dialogue, especially in the set piece scenes, but I just found it... flat.

I'm very familiar with Citizen Kane. I studied screenwriting. I love Upton Sinclair and find the politics discussed in Mank as fascinating as that particular period in Hollywood. Even the knowledge of these elements, without which the plot could easily be lost on the audience, wasn't enough to bring the story to life.

A couple of other reviewers have described it as a chore to watch, and, unfortunately, I have to agree.

I'll try again in a couple of months, maybe.
24 out of 40 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Kyloren1415 November 2020
Acting is perfect, directing is outstanding, score is fantastic and very very movie of the year for me
118 out of 234 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed