Mank: A Film Review

2 Mar

-For the Uncensored

As I am often times fascinated and repelled by Hollywood, it’s often the movies like Barton Fink, directed by the Cohen Brothers, that often times capture Hollywood and all there warts. What David Fincher’s Mank (2021) gives us is a stunning but also untrue perception of the reality Communism was looked at in the United States by writers in the 1930’s.

            Mank tells the story of how Herman Mankiewicz wrote the screenplay for Orson Welles Citizen Kane, and the hurdles of drying out Herman in order for him to write let alone finish the screenplay. The film does give insights as the inspiration behind the screenplay and how Herman Mankiewicz had an insider like influence. Much of the movie is in flashback, as it seems to ape the structure of Citizen Kane. The screenplay is described as “fragments” but Mank describes it as a “cinnamon roll.” 

Hearst, in the film, is not outright portrayed as a villainous character, and Mank, resembles more of a villain than Hearst was. Hearst liked Herman Mankiewicz. Now, Hearst makes claims that “You can’t ignore a market like Germany.” This is almost the same type of thinking that Hollywood producers are having about the global prescience of China. What is eerie is when Mank, played by Gary Oldman, says, “Socialism is about distributing the wealth, while Communism is about distributing poverty.”

            On its face it’s a bold claim made by Mank, at the dinner party scene, as it’s part way true, but socialism is a gateway drug to communism, as socialism covers up the lie that communism leads to. It also adds a scene where they are making fake news, and it’s almost too cringe worthy to watch, because this also proves how out of touch Hollywood was in the 30’s, but also shows how Hollywood just does the same thing over and over again in regards to fake news. 

            Hollywoods tactics never differ, and Mank, sees the hypocrisy as well as many do today. But the dishonesty in Fincher’s film is that it proves that anyone who supported communism never truly understood or did the research to find out what communism was, and how the Nazi’s were no different than the communists. 

            But the conversation within the Hearst Mansion is Exhibit A, as to how people like Herman Mankiewicz was blinded by a hatred for himself and his rampant alcoholism that led him to write Citizen Kane, his deep underlying hatred for Hollywood, and ultimately rejecting him after age 55. This movie reminds me that better films exist, but even so, is the existence of Herman Mankiewicz based off of some need to state that being Republican is bad, but if that’s true, Hollywood should take note   hat having Conservative values are not a bad thing. 

But it seems to give some faint whiff of cringe that almost makes the movie feel more about today than yesterday. Which Mank almost feels like an afterbirth film that was going to be released from 2015-2020. And if the film came out then it would have destroyed David Fincher and the film’s chances for acceptance. But talking about being pro-communist in 2021 is a final act on the curtain of Hollywood. It can’t seem to let go of the propaganda within Hollywood’s core values. No matter what generation Hollywood existed in.

            But it seems like David Fincher wants to believe that Hollywood was worse off being Conservative, when the tactics of Hollywood have never changed, just repeated through time and time again. Hollywood will try to rewrite my lifetime, but I remember all of it. And Mank feels more like a film captured in a hourglass, rather than give us a tour of Hollywood and Herman Mankiewicz life. Ultimately there could have been more to tell than just having it as a movie.

            While Gary Oldman is great, and the acting is superb, the lies told about communism can’t be ignored. But also, if it reflected the character of Mank, then I don’t blame the film for sounding didactic. The black and white is great, but I think Hail Caesar and Barton Fink tackled the duality of Hollywood better than David Fincher could. It didn’t feel like a David Fincher film either. 

            “Two hours is impossible to capture in a man’s life” is right and certainly hurts Mank in the process. Stick with Barton Fink instead.

            Final Rating: 2.5/5 

-Louis Bruno is the author of more than 15 books, including, The Michael Project, The Michael Project: Book 2: The Lost Children of Eve, Thy Kingdom Come, The Disintegrating Bloodline, Apocalypse Soldier, Hierarchy of Dwindling Sheep. His books can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Lulu. He can be found on Gab, https://gab.com/thereallouistbruno, Minds https://www.minds.com/lbruno8063/, and Parlerhttps://parler.com/profile/therealLouistbruno/posts. Instagram @lbrruno8063 and @louisbrunoofficialbook. He has written for the Intellectual Conservative and Ephemere. His latest, Come Home, Young One, a dark fantasy novel is out now at Lulu.com. Link is here: https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/louis-bruno/come-home-young-one/hardcover/product-pw8q7z.html?page=1&pageSize=4

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