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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ARSHAD TO BE SEEN IN TURBANED LOOK IN NEW FILM ‘BANDA SINGH’

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MUMBAI: Arshad Warsi will be seen donning a turban in his new film ‘Banda Singh’.

On Monday, Arshad took to Twitter and shared the first official poster of the movie. In the image, he can be seen sporting a turbaned look as he poses with actor Meher Vij. “Really excited to become #BandaSingh for you all. All we need is your blessings,” Arshad captioned the poster.

As per a statement, ‘Banda Singh’ is a survival story of a man and his family, set in North India and based on true events. It is helmed by Abhishek Saxena.

Abhishek said, “I have been looking for a script like this to direct since a long time as my earlier two films Phullu and Saroj Ka Rishta were on social issues but Banda Singh is about survival. I am quite thrilled to go on floors and roll the film with Arshad, Meher and rest of the cast.” ‘Banda Singh’ will go on floors in mid-November.

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TRAILER OF JOHN’S ‘SATYAMEVA JAYATE 2’ PACKED WITH PATRIOTISM & ACTION

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MUMBAI: The makers of the John Abraham-starrer ‘Satyameva Jayate 2’ finally dropped the trailer of the much-awaited sequel to the 2018 hit ‘Satyameva Jayate’.

The nearly three-minute-long trailer shows John on a mission to fight against injustice, corruption, and misuse of power. He undertakes three different avatars in order to do so.

The trailer, high on patriotism, is packed with action, drama, and powerful dialogues. Sharing his excitement, John said, “I am very happy that cinemas have now re-opened even in Maharashtra and the audiences will be able to experience ‘Satyameva Jayate 2’ in theatres. A film like ‘Satyameva Jayate 2’ is meant for the big screen and for the masses/people who have not been able to watch movies in theatres due to the pandemic. The response by all the exhibitors who saw the rushes has been encouraging, they are also looking forward to the film.”

Divya Khosla Kumar also shared her excitement to be a part of this franchise. “It’s been such a pleasure working with John and Milap. Satyameva Jayate is an iconic film and I am positive that the second instalment will only be a feather to the cap of the film franchise. I hope the audience and my fans embrace me and my performance,” said Divya. 

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BAJRANG DAL VANDALISES ‘ASHRAM 3’ SET IN BHOPAL

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BHOPAL: The upcoming web series ‘Ashram 3’ directed by Prakash Jha has sparked controversy after Bajrang Dal workers ransacked the series’ sets on Sunday during its filming and even threw ink at the director. The filming was going on at the old jail in Bhopal, where the Bajrang Dal workers stopped the vehicles and pelted stones at them, leaving some crew members injured. After the incident, Irshad Wali, DIG Bhopal, clarified, “All the miscreants have been shunned from the premises and no one has been fatally injured, though some vehicles have been damaged. Further action will be taken against those responsible.”

Bajrang Dal Bhopal leader Sushil Sudele said, “We want the film industry to be promoted here in Madhya Pradesh. People should get employment but this land should not be used to humiliate Hindu samaj. In the earlier installment of the series, it was shown that women are exploited inside Ashram, is it so? Stop defaming Hindus and if he wants to gain popularity, then why not name any other religion and see the number of protests that happen. We have given only a warning for now and Prakash Raj has said that he is in talks to change the show’s title.” He added, “I repeat the show’s name will have to be changed from ‘Ashram’ or won’t be filmed here in Bhopal.”

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KARTIK STARTS SHOOTING FOR ‘SHEHZADA’

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MUMBAI: Kartik Aaryan is wasting no time in jumping from one project to another and is all set to start shooting for his next, titled ‘Shehzada’, with co-star Kriti Sanon.

Taking to Instagram, Kartik posted a classy picture in which he can be seen holding the clapperboard of the film in a stylish fashion. For the picture, Kartik stands on the glossy, reflective floor of an elegant, white corridor. Adding a crown emoticon, he wrote the caption, “#Shehzada Shuru…”

Helmed by Rohit Dhawan, ‘Shehzada’ will mark the second collaboration between Kriti and Kartik after their 2019 hit romantic film ‘Luka Chuppi’. Apart from Kriti and Kartik, Paresh Rawal, Manisha Koirala, Ronit Roy, and Sachin Khedekar are also a part of ‘Shehzada’.

The upcoming project is an action-packed, musical, family film, which will be shot over various schedules in Mumbai and Delhi in the next several months. The film, produced by Bhushan Kumar, Allu Arvind, and Aman Gill, will release on 4 November next year.

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KANGANA ON CLOUD NINE AFTER RECEIVING 4TH NATIONAL FILM AWARD

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NEW DELHI: 25 October 2021 will always be a memorable day for Kangana Ranaut as she received her fourth National Film Award. Kangana was awarded the Best Actress Award for her performances in ‘Manikarnika: Queen of Jhansi’ and ‘Panga’.

For the special occasion, she chose to wear a traditional silk saree. She even shared several pictures of her look on her Instagram account before walking up to the stage to receive the award. “All set to receive the highest honour for an artist in the country today …. National Award,” Kangana captioned the post.

This is her fourth National Award. Earlier, Kangana won Best Supporting Actress for her role in ‘Fashion’ and Best Actress Awards for ‘Queen’ and ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’.

After receiving the prestigious award, she took to the photo-sharing application to thank her parents for being her support system. “We all grow up with a deep desire to be worthy of our parents love, care and sacrifices…After all the troubles I give my mummy papa such days seem to make up for all those mischiefs ..Thank you for being my mummy papa I wouldn’t want it any other way,” wrote Kangana.

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‘SOORYAVANSHI’ PROMOTIONS: KATRINA SHARES HILARIOUS VIDEO OF AKSHAY & ROHIT

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NEW DELHI: Katrina Kaif treated fans with a hilarious behind-the-scenes video from the first of ‘Sooryavanshi’ promotions. Taking to Instagram, Katrina shared a video in which she could be sarcastically seen saying, “So guys, this is the first day of promotions for Sooryavanshi, and I have never seen Rohit sir and Akshay so excited, they are ready to go, they are full of energy, they are like,” and turns the camera to capture Rohit and Akshay resting. The moment both of them realise that they are being captured by Katrina, they ask her to stop. “Don’t record,” Rohit could be heard telling Katrina.

“Arre but you wake up at 5 in the morning, you must be tired,” Katrina teases Akshay, who asks her, “What are you doing? We have a reputation,” and both Akshay and Rohit run away from Katrina in a hurry.

Sharing the video, the ‘Bang Bang’ actress wrote, “Just look at the excitement of the boys for our first-day promotions together @itsrohitshetty @akshaykumar #sooryavanshiintheatres #sundayvibes #sooryavanshi Nov 5th.”

Responding to the video, Akshay also wrote, “Waiting for #Sooryavanshi for a year and a half now, a few moments of peace toh banta hai nah! But pranksters like you clearly want trouble @katrinakaif. No worries, #AaRahiHaiPolice.”

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