Mank

STREAMING REVIEW: 

Netflix;
Drama;
Rated ‘R’ for some language.
Stars Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Tom Pelphrey, Arliss Howard, Tuppence Middleton, Joseph Cross, Sam Troughton, Toby Leonard Moore, Ferdinand Kingsley, Tom Burke, Charles Dance.

David Fincher’s Mank is as much a rebuke of the politics of Hollywood as it is a peek behind the scenes at the creative process that led to Citizen Kane, which is often regarded as one of the greatest films ever made.

The film’s look and feel is definitely an homage to Kane, from its black-and-white photography, to the framing of specific shots, to a time-shifting narrative structure, and a sound mix that seems to emulate classic films. The only thing Fincher seemingly didn’t do was crop the film to a 4:3 aspect ratio.

The docu-drama focuses on the career of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, who won an Oscar co-authoring the Kane screenplay with Orson Welles. In the film, Mank (Gary Oldman) works on the Kane script while recovering from a car accident at a retreat in California’s Mojave Desert, and recounts to those around him who inspired the characters in it, leading to flashbacks to the events in question.

Citizen Kane, of course, is famously based on publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst and his mistress, Marion Davies, played here by Charles Dance and Amanda Seyfried. For Oldman’s Mank, Hearst’s coziness with Hollywood generated enough resentment to inspire him to pick him apart in his screenplay.

The inciting event in particular seems to be the 1934 California gubernatorial election, in which Hearst and Hollywood backed Republican incumbent Frank Merriam over the Democrats’ nominee, socialist author Upton Sinclair. Mank sympathized with Sinclair’s anti-poverty positions and took offense to Hearst’s bankrolling of propaganda films by MGM, Mank’s home studio.

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Fincher’s depiction of classic Hollywood will be catnip for film fans, particularly viewers with an affinity for Citizen Kane, but also history buffs in general. On the other hand, ruminations about Mank’s health, his alcohol dependency and frictions between him and the studio system tend to drag on a bit.

The depiction of Hollywood’s attempt to exert its influence over voters is one of those “the more things change, the more they stay the same” kind of moments, and certainly gives the film a timely quality despite its period setting. While some might see Mank’s moral stance as a left-wing defense of the little guy against the big bad corporate machine, it’s hard not to look at the unseemly alliance between Hearst and MGM chief Louis B. Mayer and not see parallels with the media and entertainment establishment’s distaste for Donald Trump (despite whatever message Fincher intended to relay).

The film’s relationship between politics and screenwriting in some ways brings to mind another recent film about a legendary screen scribe, 2015’s Trumbo, about blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Oldman’s attempts to capture the affectations of a mid-20th-century Hollywood screenwriter are in many ways similar to Bryan Cranston’s efforts to do the same as Trumbo.

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The other aspect of Mank that will have historians poring over it is the question of how much of the Citizen Kane screenplay can actually be attributed to Welles. Mank seems to want to give most of the credit to its title subject, depicting Welles as a collaborator who earns a contractual credit but mostly calls to check in on Mank’s progress and edits the final product for being too long.

The screenplay for Mank was originally written in the 1990s by Jack Fincher, David’s father who died in 2003. He based the premise on an article from the 1970s that questioned whether Welles had anything to do with the Kane screenplay, a notion at Welles supporters have attacked vociferously.

The subject of the making of Citizen Kane was previously the focus of the 1999 HBO movie RKO 281 (a reference to Kane’s production number). However, that movie focused more on the collaboration between the two men, and attributed the rancor toward Hearst more toward Welles, while Mank, played there by John Malkovich, wanted to ease up — a stark contrast to Oldman’s version. Interestingly, the RKO 281 DVD is actually included as a bonus with some Citizen Kane boxed sets.

‘You Should Have Left,’ Three Other New Releases Debut on ‘Watched at Home’ Chart

The DVD and digital release of You Should Have Left sent the psychological thriller from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment soaring up the weekly “Watched at Home” chart to debut at No. 2.

The film, from Blumhouse Productions, stars Kevin Bacon and Amanda as a couple seeking a restful vacation in a remote home in the Welsh countryside. Their retreat soon turns into a terrifying nightmare when reality begins to unravel, dark episodes from the past resurface, and a sinister force in the house refuses to let them leave.

Another Universal-distributed film, DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour, remained in the top spot on the chart for the week ended Aug. 1. It’s the animated sequel’s fifth consecutive week at No. 1 on the “Watched at Home” chart, which tracks transactional video activity compiled from studio and retailer data through DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

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Scoob!, which debuted at No. 2 the previous week in the wake of its release on Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD and DVD, slipped to No. 7. Scoob! was available for streaming on the new HBO Max SVOD service prior to its release on physical media.

Paramount’s three seasons of “Yellowstone” again rounded out the top five, in the same spots as the prior week: season one at No. 3, season three at No. 4, and season two at No. 5.

Aside from You Should Have Left, three other new films, all released through digital retailers only, entered the “Watched at Home” top 20 the week ended Aug. 1. The Rental, an IFC Films drama about two couples on an unnerving weekend getaway, debuted at No. 8. Most Wanted, a Paramount Home Entertainment crime drama starring Josh Hartnett as an investigative reporter probing a heroin bust orchestrated by dirty cops to frame an innocent man, bowed at No. 10. And Warner’s Deep Blue Sea 3, a shark tale starring Tania Raymonde (“Lost,” “Goliath”) entered the “Watched at Home” chart at No. 11.

  1. Trolls World Tour (Universal/DreamWorks)
  2. You Should Have Left (Universal)
  3. Yellowstone: Season 1 (Paramount)
  4. Yellowstone: Season 3 (Paramount)
  5. Yellowstone: Season 2 (Paramount)
  6. The Outpost (Screen Media)
  7. Scoob! (Warner Bros.)
  8. The Rental (IFC Films)
  9. Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount)
  10. Most Wanted (Paramount, 2020)
  11. Deep Blue Sea 3 (Warner)
  12. The High Note (Universal)
  13. Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony)
  14. Force of Nature (Lionsgate, 2020)
  15. Bloodshot (Sony)
  16. Harry Potter: The Complete 8-Film Collection (Warner)
  17. The Invisible Man (Universal)
  18. Fantasy Island (Sony, 2020)
  19. Bad Boys for Life (Sony)
  20. Birds of Prey (Warner)

 

Source: DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group
Includes U.S. digital sales, digital rentals, and DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD sales for the week ended Aug. 1.

Thriller ‘You Should Have Left’ Arrives on Digital and DVD July 28 From Universal

The psychological thriller You Should Have Left will be available to own on digital and DVD July 28 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

From Blumhouse Productions and writer-director David Koepp (Stir of Echoes), the film stars Kevin Bacon (Patriots DayHollow Man) and Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia! Here We Go AgainLes Misérables) as a couple seeking a restful vacation in a remote home in the Welsh countryside. What at first seems like a perfect retreat distorts into a terrifying nightmare when reality begins to unravel, dark episodes from the past resurface, and a sinister force in the house refuses to let them leave.

The film is based on the novel from German author Daniel Kehlmann and is produced by Jason Blum (The Invisible Man, Halloween, Split, Us).

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‘Scoob!’ Getting Virtual Star-Studded Premiere on Twitter May 15

Warner May 15 is mounting a virtual premiere event for the premium VOD release of the animated feature Scoob! via Twitter.

The Twitter #ScoobMovieNight premiere event, hosted by the big dog himself, starts at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, and features Scoob! moments with stars from the movie, including Will Forte, Gina Rodriguez, Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried, Kiersey Clemons, Ken Jeong, Tracy Morgan, Frank Welker, Iain Armitage, Arianna Greenblatt, Mckenna Grace and Pierce Gagnon, and director Tony Cervone. Lennon Stella will exclusively premiere an acoustic version of lead single “Summer Feelings,” while Thomas Rhett, Kane Brown and Ava Max will be on hand to showcase their newly released single “On Me.” Both are from “Scoob! The Album,” the movie’s official musical companion also arriving May 15 and available to pre-save now here.

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TikTok dance videos from the #ScoobDance challenge have racked up more than 3 billion views, according to a studio release. Other marketing includes Scoob trivia questions and a Scoob-themed PSA from Best Friends Animal Society (bestfriends.org) about helping homeless dogs and cats.

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Following the preshow, fans across the U.S. and Canada can rent or buy the feature and share Tweets about it using #ScoobMovieNight. The feature will be available for a 48-hour rental via PVOD at $19.99, or premium digital ownership at $24.99. Consumers can visit https://www.watchscoob.com to preorder a copy.

A family activity pack is available at https://www.scoob.movie/homepremiere.php

Scoob! reveals the never-before-told story of Scooby-Doo’s origins. It shows how one of history’s most famous friendships began when a homeless puppy met a lonesome young boy named Shaggy, and how the two of them joined forces with aspiring young detectives Fred, Velma and Daphne to become the celebrated Mystery Inc. With hundreds of cases solved and adventures shared, Scooby and the gang face the biggest and most challenging mystery of their careers: a plot that will unleash the legendary ghost dog Cerberus upon the world.

‘The Art of Racing in the Rain’ Speeding to Home Video

The Art of Racing in the Rain will be available through digital retailers Oct. 29, and on Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 5, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Based on the bestselling novel by Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a heart-warming tale narrated by a witty and philosophical dog named Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner). Through his unique insight into the human condition, Enzo helps his owners — racecar driver Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia), his wife Eve (Amanda Seyfried) and daughter Zoe (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) — navigate life with a refreshing perspective on friendship, family and unconditional love.

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The film earned $26.4 million at the domestic box office.

Extras include audio commentary by director Simon Curtis, and the featurettes “A Journey to Screen,” “Directing the Art,” “Enzo Cam,” “Behind the Wheel,” “The Dog Stays in the Picture” and “Enzo’s First Ride.”

 

‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ Dancing to Digital Oct. 9, Disc Oct. 23 From Universal

The Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Sing-Along Edition will come out on digital (including Movies Anywhere) Oct. 9 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and on demand Oct. 23 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film earned more than $118 million in theaters.

Ten years after Mamma Mia! The Movie, the prequel/sequel set to the music of ABBA features returning stars Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Julie Walters, Dominic Cooper, Amanda Seyfried and Christine Baranski alongside new additions Lily James, Cher and Andy Garcia. The film follows two stories: present day as Sophie Sheridan (Seyfried) prepares for the grand reopening of her mother Donna’s (Streep) hotel and 1979 when young Donna (James) first arrives on the island. Sophie learns about her mother’s adventures with the young Dynamos, Tanya (Jessica Keenan-Wynn) and Rosie (Alexa Davies), and how young Donna first met her three possible dads Harry (Hugh Skinner), Bill (Josh Dylan) and Sam (Jeremy Irvine).

Bonus features, some exclusive to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and digital, include deleted/extended songs and scenes with commentary by director/screenplay writer Ol Parker; enhanced sing-alongs; cast meets cast, in which those playing young and older versions of certain cast members discuss their parts; cast chats between those playing the three young Dynamos and the young dads; a featurette on the choreography; featurettes on the development of the story, the character of Sophie, on Cher’s joining the cast, the costumes and more; and feature commentaries with Parker and producer Judy Craymer.

The film will be available on 4K Ultra HD in a combo pack which includes 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray and Digital. The 4K Ultra HD disc will include the same bonus features as the Blu-ray version, all in 4K.