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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.


THE SOCIAL NETWORK
2010, Sony Repertory, 120 min, USA, Dir: David Fincher

You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies. Spurred on by a bitter taste for revenge after his girlfriend dumps him, computer whiz Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) creates a social networking site that evolves into an international phenomenon: Facebook. He and his partners quickly discover, however, that success comes at a very high price. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s Oscar-winning script recalls both the rapid-fire newspaper comedies of the classic studio era and the smart adult dramas of the 1970s while remaining contemporary. Costarring Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake and Armie Hammer, and featuring an edgy original score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (which was also an Oscar winner).


ZODIAC
2007, Paramount, 157 min, USA, Dir: David Fincher

Based on the true story of the serial killer who terrorized San Francisco in the late 1960s, this engrossing mystery stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist who becomes obsessed with the manhunt; Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. are the police inspector and reporter, respectively, on the same mission. With a meticulous attention to detail (and plenty of foreboding atmosphere courtesy of Harris Savides’ cinematography), this may be the last word on a case that remains officially unsolved.


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