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'Mank' Review With Casey

Courtesy of 'Mank' movie

Mank is a brilliant biopic of Herman Mankiewicz, his screenwriting career in Hollywood, and his creation of the screenplay for the famous Citizen Kane film from 1941. (Practically every film scholar and film historian includes Citizen Kane as one of the greatest films ever made.)

But Mank's main focus is not on the process of writing a masterpiece but on Mankiewicz's clash with the right-wing politics of 1930s Hollywood, showing how a talented alcoholic writer tries to denounce the moral corruption of studio operations (and their vast political influence) only to become a washed-up exile. So Mank is not just about redemption of a Hollywood underdog (like The Artist from 2011, Birdman from 2014, or any version of A Star is Born). It's about the courage to say something, or write something, that goes against the popular mainstream and how such an experience influences one's art.  

This film is also technically astounding. With the black and white cinematography, fade-ins and fade-outs of every scene, beautiful shots of deep focus, and rapidly clipped dialogue, it feels like a film actually from the 1940s. More specifically, Mank starts out as a love letter to the golden age of Hollywood but then gradually drags it through scathing criticism. Director David Fincher (Gone Girl, 2014) has reminded us again of his masterful control at building, and maintaining, a fully realized and richly layered world.

Mank shows Hollywood's past was less about dreams and more about power (for writers anyway) especially with the hazy issue of controlling authorship credit. An illuminating achievement that is sure to excite movie (and movie history) lovers.

Casey T. Allen is a native of Utah who graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelor's degree in English in 2007. He has worked in many capacities throughout USU campus and enjoys his time at UPR to continually exercise his writing.