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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.


MARY (2019)
2019, 84 min, Dir: Michael Goi

Genre stalwart and four-time Emmy-nominated cinematographer Michael Goi returns to the director’s chair for a nautical horror that crawls under the skin and refuses to leave long after. Gary Oldman stars as David, a man looking to start a charter yacht business with his partner (Emily Mortimer). When a deal too good to be true comes their way, David acquires a boat with a sinister history, and soon the couple are on their way to the high seas. It’s not long before something malignant begins to manifest itself onboard the ancient boat.


MEANTIME
1984, Janus Films, 102 min, UK, Dir: Mike Leigh

Mike Leigh’s slow-burning depiction of economic degradation in Thatcher’s England is the culmination of the writer-director’s pioneering work in television. Unemployment is rampant in London’s working-class East End, where a middle-aged couple and their two sons languish in a claustrophobic public-housing flat. As the brothers (Phil Daniels and Tim Roth) grow increasingly disaffected, Leigh punctuates the grinding boredom of their daily existence with tense encounters, including with a priggish aunt (Marion Bailey) who has managed to become middle-class and a blithering skinhead on the verge of psychosis (a scene-stealing Gary Oldman, in his first major role). Informed by Leigh’s now-trademark improvisational process and propelled by the lurching rhythms of its Beckett-like dialogue, MEANTIME is an unrelenting, often blisteringly funny look at life on the dole.


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