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MANK
2020, Netflix, 131 min, USA, Dir: David Fincher

Written by David Fincher’s late father, MANK is the story of the writing of CITIZEN KANE and also a startling, insightful and humorous exploration of creation, addiction and the search for self-respect. Gary Oldman is Herman Mankiewicz, a veteran studio screenwriter who worked on everything from Marx Brothers comedies to THE WIZARD OF OZ. He was also a hopeless gambler and heavy drinker who was less than respectful of his chosen profession. MANK sees the title character in a metaphorical last chance saloon, holed up in a bungalow in the Californian desert in 1940, employed by Orson Welles (Tom Burke) to write a screenplay – with no studio interference. Mankiewicz needs money, but as the writing goes on – with the support of secretary Rita Alexander (Lily Collins) – he becomes more creatively invested, fueled by memories of old friends ... and enemies. Back in the 1930s, he clashed with M.G.M studio chiefs Louis B. Mayer (Arliss Howard) and Irving Thalberg (Ferdinand Kingsley), disgusted not only at their hubris, but at his own part in the system. He also befriended movie star Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried) and met her lover, William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance), a hugely wealthy and influential media mogul. Mank’s exposure to the establishment, and to a charismatic figure who valued power more than people, would eventually give the screenwriter an idea. Memories of life feed his art as he works furiously on the screenplay for what will become CITIZEN KANE, the film many consider the greatest of all time.


JENNIFER’S BODY
2009, 20th Century Fox, 102 min, Dir: Karyn Kusama

Writer Diablo Cody and director Karyn Kusama collaborated on what might be the most incredible high school horror film ever made. Anita "Needy" Lesnicki (Amanda Seyfried) is a withdrawn high schooler whose best friend Jennifer (Megan Fox) is a popular cheerleader. Despite having nothing in common, the two have been friends forever and continue to hang out despite objections from all levels of the school social hierarchy. The two head out one night to a dive bar to catch an indie rock show, but when the gig goes tragically wrong, Jennifer leaves with the band. Later that night, Jennifer reappears in Needy’s kitchen covered in blood and hungry with more than just the munchies. Needy suspects there might be something wrong with her friend beyond raging teenage hormones, but who is going to believe the word of a nerd over one of the most popular girls at school? And just what is wrong with Jennifer’s body?


FIRST REFORMED
2018, A24, 108 min, USA, Dir: Paul Schrader

Writer-director Paul Schrader’s gripping thriller tackles a crisis of faith that is at once personal, political and planetary. Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is a solitary, middle-aged parish pastor at a small Dutch Reform church in upstate New York on the cusp of celebrating its 250th anniversary. Once a stop on the Underground Railroad, the church is now a tourist attraction catering to a dwindling congregation, eclipsed by its nearby parent church, Abundant Life, with its state-of-the-art facilities and 5,000-strong flock. When a pregnant parishioner (Amanda Seyfried) asks Reverend Toller to counsel her husband, a radical environmentalist, the clergyman finds himself plunged into his own tormented past and equally despairing future, until he finds redemption in an act of grandiose violence.


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