FILMS ABOUT FILMS ARE RARELY AS GOOD AS ‘MANK’ - The Daily Guardian
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FILMS ABOUT FILMS ARE RARELY AS GOOD AS ‘MANK’

Murtaza Ali Khan

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The 1941 American film Citizen Kane is widely regarded as the greatest film ever made. The film is co-written and directed by Orson Welles, who also plays the lead character of Charles Foster Kane—a character that is said to be based on American media mogul William Randolph Hearst. In other words, Citizen Kane is a film à clef i.e. a film describing real life, behind a façade of fiction. It was nominated for Academy Awards in nine categories, but it only won one—Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Screenplay). As co-writers, Herman J. Mankiewicz and Welles shared the award. Now, David Fincher’s 2020 film Mank, based on a screenplay by his late father Jack Fincher, is a biographical film about Mankiewicz (AKA Mank) and his development of the screenplay for Citizen Kane. Essentially a film about the birth of another film, Mank re-evaluates the 1930s Hollywood through an alcoholic Mank (superbly played by Gary Oldman) as he races to finish Citizen Kane. Following a limited theatrical release, Mank is now streaming on Netflix. 

 Now, other than its sprawling narrative structure and singularly brilliant performances, Citizen Kane is particularly praised for Gregg Toland›s chiaroscuro black-and-white imagery coupled with his bravura use of deep focus and low angles. Almost eight decades have passed since its release, but the film’s spiralling narrative and technical brilliance continues to inspire films and filmmakers from all across the globe. While Mank is a film about the origins of Citizen Kane, it is also a film that’s inspired by it. Director of Photography, Erik Messerschmidt, who was a gaffer on Gone Girl has quickly emerged as Fincher’s go-to cinematographer. After working his magic on both the seasons of Mindhunter, Messerschmidt has produced the definitive work of his career on Mank. And it’s not just a homage to Gregg Toland’s seminal work on Citizen Kane but it’s worthy of an independent assessment. 

 Messerschmidt’s breathtaking black-and-white cinematography in Mank has made him strongest contender for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography at the 93rd Academy Awards, scheduled for April next year. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mank goes on to win in a bunch of other categories including Best Picture. For, films about films are rarely this good. Some of the best ones that come to mind are Les Blank’s Burden of Dreams (a 1982 documentary film about the chaotic production of Werner Herzog’s 1982 epic Fitzcarraldo in the jungles of Peru), Chris Marker’s A.K. (Chris Marker’s 1985 documentary film following the making of Akira Kurosawa’s 1985 period epic Ran in Japan), Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (a 1991 documentary film chronicling the endless problems that Francis Ford Coppola faced while making his 1979 anti-war epic Apocalypse Now in the Philippines), and E. Elias Merhige’s Shadow of the Vampire (a 2000 metafiction film about the making of F.W. Murnau’s classic vampire film Nosferatu). I strongly believe that Mank too belongs here.

 Mank is as meta as meta can be. Even the flashbacks take place with screenplay-styled markings flashing on the screen, characteristically denoting place and time (like «EXT. MGM STUDIOS – ELECTION EVE – NIGHT – 1934”), with the sound of a typewriter clacking over the markings. There is a scene in Mank wherein a studio boss tells one of his young executives, “This is a business where the buyer gets nothing for his money but a memory. What he bought stills belongs to the man who sold it. That’s the real magic of the movies and don’t let anybody tell you different.” Can there be a better way of explaining the movie business to a new entrant? The dialogue in Mank is so good that you won’t see a movie with better cinematic dialogue this year. 

 Now, the issue of authorship of Citizen Kane’s screenplay has been one of the long-standing controversies. Renowned American film critic Pauline Kael infamously revived the controversy over its authorship with her 1971 book-length essay titled ‘Raising Kane’. While celebrating Mankiewicz, who is officially the first-credited co-author of the Oscar-winning screenplay, she denigrated the contributions of Orson Welles. Fincher’s Mank too takes the same route and significantly downplays Welles’ contribution to the screenplay. Perhaps, the screenplay of Citizen Kane wouldn’t have been possible without the intricate details that Mank knew about Hearst Castle (the inspiration for Kane’s estate ‘Xanadu’), Hearst and his mistress Marion Davies (brilliantly essayed by Amanda Seyfried), who is said to be the true inspiration behind Citizen Kane’s famously mysterious ‘Rosebud’. Or maybe Mank didn’t share a close friendship with Davies in realty. However, what cannot be denied is that the screenplay was just one cog in the machine that helped immortalize Citizen Kane. As for Fincher’s Mank, as perhaps Herman Mankiewicz would have said, there are films about the origins of films and films that are inspired by films, but the best amongst them are those which despite being both are equally capable of standing on their own. As cinematically rich and layered Mank is, it is certainly not meant for casual viewing.

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Ryan Gosling to headline ‘The Actor’ movie adaptation

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Washington [US], February 25 (ANI): Hollywood star Ryan Gosling is set to play the lead role in ‘The Actor’, an upcoming adaptation of Donald E Westlake’s novel ‘Memory’.
As per The Hollywood Reporter, Duke Johnson will helm the forthcoming movie and produce it with Abigail Spencer under their Innerlight Films production banner.
Gosling, who will also bankroll the film alongside Ken Kao, will play the lead role of Paul Cole, who must deal with his damaged memory as he struggles to rebuild his life after being left for dead and hospitalised in 1950s Ohio.
Gosling’s character Cole will follow a thrilling journey to find home, love, and ultimately himself. Gosling and Kao’s partnership follows their recent project announcements of Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s ‘Project Hail Mary’ at MGM and Leigh Whannell’s ‘Wolfman’ at Universal.
Paul Young is also producing the film through his company Make Good. Apart from helming the film, Johnson co-wrote the screenplay with Stephen Cooney, based on Westlake’s novel.
Meanwhile, Gosling has a number of projects in the pipeline, including Netflix’s ‘The Gray Man’, which also features actor Chris Evans and hails from the Russo brothers.
He will also feature in filmmaker duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s astronaut movie titled ‘Project Hail Mary’ and Leigh Whannell’s ‘Wolfman’ movie. (ANI)

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Tom Holland reveals real ‘Spider-Man 3’ title after trolling fans

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Washington [US], February 25 (ANI): Actor Tom Holland has finally revealed the real title of the third installment in the ‘Spider-Man’ franchise after the star cast of the film trolled fans with their own version of fake titles.
The real title for the latest installment in the superhero franchise is ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’.
Holland took to his Instagram account on Wednesday night to reveal the title of the film. Holland and his co-stars Zendaya and Jacob Batalon appear in a 30-second clip, which begins with Holland walking out of director Jon Watts’ office and lamenting over being given a fake title for the film.
Holland says in the video, “He gave us a fake name again … I just don’t understand why he keeps doing this.”
“You don’t understand? I feel like it’s pretty obvious. You spoil things,” Batalon responds, teasing the star’s reputation for sharing details of the superhero films before they are public knowledge.
“I don’t spoil things. Name me one thing I’ve actually spoiled,” Holland shoots back, as Zendaya chimes in, “The last movie title.”
The camera then zooms in on a whiteboard displaying a number of potential titles, with ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ featured at the centre.
The upcoming film is slated to release on December 17, this year. On Tuesday, Holland, Zendaya, and Batalon had posted never-before-seen stills from the upcoming movie – and announced three different titles.
Holland’s suggested title read ‘Phone Home’, referring to the 1982 film ‘E.T.’, Zendaya’s was ‘Home Slice’ and Batalon’s featured the title ‘Home-Wrecker’.
‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ also features actor Benedict Cumberbatch as Marvel mainstay Doctor Strange and is rumoured to delve into the multiverse as it will also unite separate generations of Spider-Man films.
Alfred Molina, who played Doctor Octopus in Tobey Maguire’s ‘Spider-Man 2’, will appear. So will Jamie Foxx, playing Electro, the villain he portrayed in 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which starred Andrew Garfield.
Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers have written the script for the forthcoming Marvel film.
Filmmaker Jon Watts has helmed the upcoming movie after directing ‘Spider-Man Homecoming’ (2017) and ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ (2019), which earned more than USD 1.1 billion globally, making it the highest-grossing ‘Spider-Man’ movie of all time. (ANI)

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Jack Giarraputo launches creative advertising agency Slice Collective

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Washington [US], February 25 (ANI): American film Producer Jack Giarraputo, whose films have grossed over USD 4B at the global box office, has launched Slice Collective, a full-service creative advertising agency that produces Hollywood-level campaigns for clients around the world.
The company, co-founded with investment banker Abhishek Som (former Lazard, IEG, and Private Equity) is disrupting the industry through global access to top-level creative marketing talent.
Giarraputo said, “We are a Hollywood-based agency with an international roster of creative talent, which leads to new ideas and a fresh perspective on global marketing campaigns. Our international setup enables us to take advantage of cost efficiencies, allowing us to service a growing list of micro targets with effective messaging. We are on the road towards personalized marketing, which was once considered cost-prohibitive but now getting closer to reality.”
Som said, “Our work in the U.S. and beyond has validated the idea that our international creatives can deliver in a way that is just as compelling as their American counterparts.”
Leading the Slice team is Leo Draper, former VP Creative Advertising, Sony Pictures, and StudioCanal executive joined by Nick Herbst, who manages business development.

Additionally, Reliance Entertainment veteran Medha Jaishankar will be serving as media advisor. (ANI)

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Ishaan Khatter shares adorable throwback picture to wish Shahid Kapoor on birthday

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New Delhi [India], February 25 (ANI): We all have fond memories from our childhood, and who doesn’t like looking at old pictures with siblings? As Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor turns a year older today, his brother and actor Ishaan Khatter shared a heartwarming birthday wish with an unseen throwback picture to mark the special day.
Ishaan took to Instagram and posted a then and now picture with his ‘bade bhai’ to wish the birthday boy. The ‘Dhadak’ actor shared a collage of two pictures – one from their childhood that features a young Shahid holding Ishaan in his arms. Another picture showed the grown-up sibling duo posing together from their appearance in Karan Johar’s talk show ‘Koffee With Karan’.
Sharing the adorable images, Ishaan wrote a few lines the famous song ‘Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli’. He captioned the post, “Zindagiiiiii kaisi hai paheli haaye. Kabhi toh hasaaye, Kabhi yeh rulaaye. But through it all.. I’ll always love you, bade bhai. Happy birthday.”

Ace filmmaker Zoya Akhtar was among the first ones to comment on the post with a heart emoji. Bollywood actor Ayushmann Khurrana also showered love on the sibling duo with a heart emoji.
Shahid and Ishaan are amongst the cutest brothers in the industry. They always talk fondly of each other and never stop motivating each other and appreciating one another’s performances.
Ishaan, who was recently seen in Mira Nair’s web series ‘A Suitable Boy’ has often expressed his love for his brother. On social media, they keep showering each other’s posts with witty and adorable comments.
Meanwhile, on the work front, Shahid will next be seen in ‘Jersey’, which also features Mrunal Thakur and Pankaj Kapur. The actor will be essaying the role of a cricketer in the film. It is a remake of a Telugu movie of the same name.
On the other hand, Ishaan will next be seen in ‘Phone Bhoot’ co-starring Katrina Kaif and Siddhant Chaturvedi. (ANI)

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HOW KAJOL, AJAY CELEBRATED 22 YEARS OF TOGETHERNESS

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NEW DELHI: Commemorating 22 years of blissful marriage, Kajol and Ajay Devgn on Wednesday shared adorable posts on social media to celebrate their wedding anniversary. The ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ star hopped on to Instagram and shared a cute picture featuring her and Ajay as they can be seen embracing each other’s company on a cruise.

The photo sees a noteworthy moment between the two as Kajol sits on the floor of the deck with her heels off and romantically looks in her husband’s eyes while he reciprocates by smiling back at her. Dressed in an orange long dress, Kajol looks gorgeous in the throwback picture while Ajay looks handsome in a white printed shirt and grey pair of denims.

The much-in-love couple seems to cherish their time on a holiday over the cruise. Explaining why she is staring at her husband, Kajol wrote in the caption, “And you sir, you’re very attractive. Therefore, I will stare at you! – Anonymous & Me. #22years #stillgoing #grateful #laughingalways.”  

Ajay too shared a funny post on Instagram to celebrate his and Kajol’s 22nd wedding anniversary. The couple tied the knot in 1999, and Ajay in his post made a pun on the word ‘bottled’. The ‘Drishyam’ star shared a picture of a bottle of wine with ‘Battled in 1999, only edition’ printed on the label, besides a sketch of the couple. There was a wine glass next to the bottle. The duo was last seen together on screen in the 2020 film ‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior’. They are parents of 17-year-old Nysa and 10-year-old Yug. 

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AYUSHMANN MEETS SHILLONG YOUTH WHO GATE-CRASHED HIS HOTEL

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Ayushmann Khurrana, who was shooting for Anubhav Sinha’s next titled ‘Anek’ in Shillong, had about 200 youngsters gate-crash his hotel to meet the actor. Ayushmann, who portrays diverse roles with perfection, has built a name for himself in the Hindi film industry by choosing films that are offbeat, unique, and socially relevant.

An eye-witness from Shillong commenting on the incident said, “Post the day’s shoot wrap, Ayushmann returned to the hotel and headed to eat dinner. In 15 minutes, there were about 200-250 college students from Shillong outside the hotel wanting to meet him and he was promptly informed about the same. Ayushmann had just started eating his food but on hearing this, he left his meal and immediately went to the lobby to meet them.”

The source added, “Ayushmann told his team that he didn’t want them to wait for him. He wanted to quickly go down and meet the college students so that they can go to their homes early. Even they were surprised to see Ayushmann coming out so quickly to meet them.”

“They loved his warm and thoughtful gesture and started chanting his name. Ayushmann met each one of them individually and took pictures with them. He made the evening really special for them,” the source further said. According to the Indian Institute of Human Brands survey, India identifies most with Ayushmann as he is currently the ‘Most Relatable Star’ in the country. As an outsider to Bollywood, his journey to stardom is inspiring for the youth of the country who want to dream big without any apprehension. Apart from ‘Anek’, Ayushmann will also be seen in Abhishek Kapoor’s ‘Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui’, and Anubhuti Kashyap’s ‘Doctor G’.

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