In MANK, available on Netflix, Gary Oldman excels in his performance as Hollywood screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz. This feature show him as a hardcore alcoholic and a brilliant writer, more the genius behind the film classic CITIZEN KANE than Orson Welles was. He's presented as the script's sole writer. The film is in black and white and it's a Hollywood-on-Hollywood biopic. The Academy loves biopics. Look at the actors who've taken home some Hollywood gold for portraying real-life characters. From Luise Rainer as entertainer Anna Held in THE GREAT ZIEGFELD (1936) and Spencer Tracy as Father Flanagan in BOYS TOWN (1938) to modern times, actors such as Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Charlize Theron, Jamie Foxx, Sean Penn, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cate Blanchett and Renee Zellweger have won Oscars for biopics. Gary Oldman did too. He was outstanding as Winston Churchill in 2017's DARKEST HOUR. He rates another Best Actor Oscar nomination thanks to his work in MANK.
With the Hollywood and publishing players supporting a conservative for political office during the Depression, when Americans are unemployed and broke, I thought of NBC promoting Donald Trump when he was host of the network's reality game show, THE APPRENTICE. Even though he was sending out racist items on Twitter about President Obama not being a real American, tweets that irritated us African Americans, he was neither disciplined nor punished by NBC. He continued to send out racist tweets. When he became a presidential candidate, he repeatedly insulted Mexico and Mexicans. Still, NBC let him host SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE for a night. The New York Post is a pro-Trump newspaper.
That's why the liberal social awareness in MANK made me feel it was not just about CITIZEN KANE. MANK suggests that Welles, although a gifted filmmaker, may not have been as great as his legend. However, he crafted and directed his legend with the same attention he gave to directing CITIZEN KANE. When we baby boomers were kids, we were aware of the legend of CITIZEN KANE and its "boy wonder" star/director Orson Welles. At that time, we also knew him as the obese man who was roasted by TV critics for his lead role performance in a special NBC production of THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER, his TV spokesman work in some popular wine commercials on network TV and his talk show appearances.
At another Hearst dinner party, Mankiewicz arrives drunk and out of control. Mayer and Hearst and Davies are present. Mankiewicz has completed the CITIZEN KANE script. In an inebriated rant, he walks over to Hearst and describes Kane (Hearst) as a man who "...values power over people."
Yep. Considering the current White House resident who is leaving next month, I feel MANK is not just about CITIZEN KANE. I recommend seeing this well-made, well-acted and timely biopic. It's on Netflix.