Mank (2020)
December 5, 2020 11:59 AM - Subscribe

Follows screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz's tumultuous development of Orson Welles' iconic masterpiece Citizen Kane (1941).
posted by guiseroom (15 comments total)
I started watching this a couple of days ago, but didn't finish it yet. It certainly tries hard to live in that "wittiest guys in the room" world, but it's kind of hard to endure for very long.

It's definitely a story I want to hear, though, so I expect I'll be diving back in soon. God knows how accurate it actually is, though.

One thing that kept kicking me out of the spell were the "typewriter" titles that occasionally appeared to set the scene. For one, I really hate that kind of thing. It's corny. But, there was the completely wrong way the titles were animated. The text would type across the screen (accompanied by mechanical typewriter noise, of course) Then it would get to the end of the line, and there would be the sound of the carriage return and...the text moved down the screen. A carriage return moves text up, not down. It's a little detail, sure. But, why go to the trouble of implying a typewriter at work and not play it out correctly?
posted by Thorzdad at 9:09 AM on December 6, 2020 [3 favorites]

I made what what probably a mistake in watching Citizen Kane (for the many-ith time) the night before watching this and the new movie really pales in comparison. I mean, obviously 99% of movies aren't going to measure of to Kane but this one invites that comparison in multiple ways and just doesn't hold up. That said, I did enjoy it. The dialog is mostly fun and the performances are great, especially Oldman and Seyfried. The Ross/Reznor soundtrack is great too.

It was fun seeing San Simeon in action (or a CGI re-creation) as I've been there and recognized a lot of the rooms.
posted by octothorpe at 10:09 AM on December 6, 2020

Two things have stuck in my craw before I even watch this:

1) Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried are playing characters who are ostensibly the same age.
2) HBO already made a pretty good movie about this like 15-20 years ago called RKO 281.

I'll still see it. I'm an Orson Welles nerd. But still.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:33 PM on December 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Fincher said something about trying to cast actors who were Mankiewicz's actual age of 43 but everyone is so healthy and fit now that he had to go with someone 20 years older. But yeah, Seyfried and Tuppence Middleton
are half of Oldman's age.
posted by octothorpe at 6:01 PM on December 6, 2020

Someone should have told Fincher about the existence of these things called prosthetics and makeup. You know, I heard there once was a young hot-shot movie director who made clever use of those tools to achieve some very convincing effects in his films. Fincher should really read up on that guy.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:26 AM on December 7, 2020 [4 favorites]

Both my wife and I remarked on how good the aging makeup still looks in Kane and how you totally forget that Welles was only 25 years old when he was playing that lumbering old blow-hard.
posted by octothorpe at 5:44 AM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm kind of disappointed that Fincher didn't go all the way and film it on Eastman XX Black and White filmstock in 4:3 ratio and yeah, cast a 25 year old actor as Mank and age him using 1940s makeup. The wide screen format seems out of place and the digital black & white looks very digital. Kelly Reichardt should have made this.
posted by octothorpe at 5:54 AM on December 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

‘Mank’ fails to give Orson Welles his due as ‘Kane’ co-writer, critic says

It's not just "critic says". Mank is just rehashing the lies and errors from Pauline Kael’s long-discredited 1971 “Raising Kane” essay. It's a shame that Kael's nonsense stays in print because of her fame while the responses showing her errors are less well-known, and this film is just going to make it worse. Everything I've read about Fincher talking about this subject makes him come across as an absolute buffoon (see, e.g, the "Deflating myths about Orson Welles" link above where Fincher (intentionally?) misquotes Welles to make it sound like Welles said the opposite of what he did, then attacks Welles for it).
posted by star gentle uterus at 10:13 PM on December 7, 2020

It's a real fail that HBO Max didn't have RKO 281 available on streaming at the same time as this. It would have gotten tons of views.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:53 AM on December 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

I can't find RKO 281 anywhere, it's not even listed on JustWatch.
posted by octothorpe at 1:41 PM on December 8, 2020

RKO 281 is on YouTube:
posted by memento maury at 10:28 AM on December 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

Thanks. 480P but it doesn't seem like an HD scan has ever been done of it so that's probably the best that exists.
posted by octothorpe at 11:00 AM on December 10, 2020

I just watched last night, and I didn't find it to be about "deflating Orson Welles" nearly as much as it was about Mank's relationship to the moneyed Hollywood establishment. Thalberg creating fake, lying political ads to scare people away from voting for a progressive candidate - where have we seen that tactic before, eh? The insanely rich Mayer and Hearst sitting pretty in their castles, dismissing the threat of Hitler, abusing their power to sway the opinions of the masses... That's the focus of the movie, to me. Welles is barely even in it. Yeah, he shows up at the end and they have a row over who gets script credit- but the point of the movie, I think, is exploring the real life sources of the Kane screenplay. And making this movie now, at this moment in history, is an intentional message about how little our media has actually changed.
posted by dnash at 9:38 AM on December 20, 2020 [4 favorites]

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