Monday , January 25 2021

a critique of film magic on Netflix


Demonstrate Man, we could simply talk about the black and white clock that was sublimely illuminated by Erik Messerschmidt. We could dwell for a long time on the many techniques that were used recreate the typical atmosphere of the 30s while creating a unique style : break down the amazing 8K digital display to find the texture of the movies of the time, adding scratches, scuffs and even the famous cigarette burns to simulate a change of reel, but without ever denying the size of your red camera Neat, clean.

We could also focus on the crazy work on the film’s sound environment. The way Fincher and his sound engineer Ren Klyce had fun summing up the sounds a sound close to the films of that time between their crackling, jerking and crackling, restoring the pope reels and reviving their very recognizable patina. We could therefore commend the work of the Trent Reznor-Atticus Ross duo on a soundtrack recorded with old microphones and composed only with instruments from the period to better absorb it.

PhotographyMan, beautifully handsome

We could also approach Gary Oldman’s performance in the skin of Herman J. Mankiewicz, undoubtedly much more impressive than the one that will bring him an Oscar for Best Actor for Dark hours in 2018, and without a hairpin; take a look at the sublime score of Amanda Seyfried (her best role so far) who proves once again how Fincher is an excellent acting director.

We could also talk about Kirk Baxter’s superb montage (who has since collaborated exclusively with Fincher) A strange story about Benjamin Button) that will energize, enhance, or highlight the film’s dense script. Finally, we could only glorify David Fincher’s staging. Undisputed, in his six-year absence from the cinema, David Fincher has not lost his mastery, the construction of his plans (Mayer’s birthday, final dinner) and the choreography of his scenes (election night) are so many wonders to think about.

No, talking about all this would be too easy to criticize Dude, David Fincher’s eleventh feature and directorial debut for Netflix. Because, although all these elements contribute to magnificence Dude, this is not what really attracts here.

Photo by Gary OldmanGreat scene


Before you get to the heart of the matter, it’s important to emphasize how rough and rough David Fincher’s feature film is. As soon as it starts, black and white, long dialogue and countless characters, Man it will undoubtedly leave spectators on the side of the road. After half an hour, the message is also sent almost directly to the audience by an exchange between John Houseman (Sam Troughton), assistant Orson Welles and Mank.

The first gives his opinion on the first pages of the future scenario Citizen of Kane on Man in his words: “The caption is remarkable, but you know it. Her thirst for power, her need to be loved by those who fear her excess, but … you ask a lot of filmmakers. It’s a bit of a mess.. Chatter, pieces of scenes that move like jumping peas. The story is scattered, we will need a map. Will you deign to simplify? “

What Mankiewicz will answer: “Welcome to my brain, old man. The narrative is a big circle, like a huge cinnamon roll. Not a straight line. At best, you don’t summarize a man’s life in two hours. – On examination.”

PhotographyAmerican, le Citizen Kane avant Citizen Kane

The intent is therefore clear and unambiguous: David Fincher (and essentially Jack Fincher) does not aim to guide viewers by presenting to the end. So, the performances of Irving Thalberg, Louis B. Mayer, Ben Hecht or even Charles Lederer will be almost non-existent and every viewer will have to do personal work to bring everything back.

Because yes, Man is demanding, will require the attention of viewers and especially their desire to stick, David Fincher refuses to turn his film into a simple Wikipedia file (and thankfully) and fall into the shackles of the basic and obscene entertainment that attacks Hollywood.

Indeed, when Houseman criticizes Citizen of Kane (then titled American), son and father Fincher finally talk about Man. The film is made a bit like a masterpiece by Orson Welles, whose conception he is talking about. Its feedback structure is not as ambitious as it is Citizen of Kane (perhaps so as not to lose the entire audience) with only two temporals and a chronological sequence, but constant investment is needed to be able to understand the details and shortcomings.

By the way, even if nothing prevents the view Man without me seeing Citizen of Kane, Knowing the broad outlines is more than welcome as it offers perspective and above all valuable help for a better understanding of Fincher’s designs. So you have to be angry to throw yourself Fincher’s feature film Netflix, as it may seem inaccessible to many subscribers which will launch it onto the platform.

Photo by Tom Burke, Gary OldmanOrson Welles, almost spooky


However, despite all this, Man it’s not just a movie for cinephiles. A feature film has long, erroneously, been presented as a work focused on authorship Citizen of Kane and a fierce collaboration between 24-year-old wolf Orson Welles (Tom Burke) and clowns Herman J. Mankiewicz. In the end, their confrontation is brief and boils down to a tiny sequence in the final quarter of the feature film.

What David Fincher is completely interested in is, above all, the story of Mankiewicz himself and the internal struggle that will lead him to write. Citizen of Kane. Far from being a simple biography, Man is a fine and honest work of creation, and especially of the very idea of ​​being an artist in a system that is divided and rotten by the money that Hollywood can be (already then, and even today).

So, David Fincher first of all tells the story of a man in complete decline, who no longer believes in what Hollywood has become and who will decide to do what he wants in the last epic gesture (“tell a story he knows”) to fight (for the first time in his life) against this corrupt system, the unworthy talent that makes it up. A way to regenerate him mentally and physically (Oldman’s character, bedridden and recovering at the beginning of the film, will eventually stand with the most beautiful prizes in his hand) and above all to become aware of the role he has to play.

photography, Gary OldmanMank, from clown to conqueror

IN diving into the meanders of Mankiewicz’s mind and memory, David Fincher then has fun reconstructing the riddle behind the creation Citizen of Kane while paying homage to his father Jack Fincher. Man it is not a simple homage to the golden age of Hollywood (which, moreover, is a rather bitter criticism), it is an ode to David’s father and the profession of screenwriter.

During the first meeting of Marion Davies and Mank, Thalberg introduces Mank to the contemptuous Louis B. Mayer “He’s a simple screenwriter”. And it is this contempt for this behind-the-scenes profession, designed to stay away from the light projected on directors, actors or producers, David Fincher promises to stop it by showing power and heroism. Because if money has undeniable power (capable of distorting choices), the power of pen and art (real, authentic) is undoubtedly much greater, much more beautiful and above all. more and more honestly.

What if the screenwriter, through a “simple” script, shook up the hierarchies, changed the mentality, and finally disrupted the phase of the world? Director Seven the book, therefore, a tribute to his father and especially to all the screenwriters who accompanied him, one who in his twenty-five-year career has never written one of his feature films. What if they were above all of them, the real artists behind his films?

Photo by Arliss Howard, Amanda SeyfriedAmanda Seyfried, amazing in Marion Davies


Behind this shocking and melancholy confession, the director therefore suggests, okay, a grandiose and modest reflection of himself. Through the character Dude, David Fincher re-examines himself, questioning his own talent and his own merits. Mank, this man who hates the race for MGM money, rejects this manipulation of art for political purposes, does not understand the critiques of his writing “too demanding for the viewer” and mostly disappointed by what is so animated, is finally Fincher himself.

One who has been since his first feature film Alien 3,, seeing his desires blocked by outraged and authoritarian producers, in recent years he has not stopped pointing the finger at the path Hollywood has taken. The multitude of projects he had to abandon, the studies “lacked imagination” and their rejection Man, forced Fincher to take refuge elsewhere, and the savior Netflix, a (fake) producer leaves him a carte blanche and a master of his art.

Photo by Arliss Howard, Charles DanceIt’s time to hear what David has to say

An opportunity to get rid of him for the delivery of his most personal film (he has been working there since the early 90s), and especially a film for him. For finally give yourself the opportunity to conclude a long-term project and schedule everything you have on your heart as an artist (obviously, his Hollywood critic), but also as a man and a citizen.

AND Man it is undoubtedly the most difficult for a filmmaker to approach film, it is also one of his (?) richest. It is clear that it is about cinema, art and creation in this sublime spiritual walk in black and white, but it is also a reflection on loneliness, manipulation of the media, redemption, the search for truth, for the ideal. , recognition, dignity … Therefore, it should be, even insolently, imagining for a moment that we can describe everything that has been said Man in one text (for much too long).

However, one thing is for sure: cinema is still magic, and David Fincher’s latest film is one of the most beautiful things that have happened to himis a recent memory.

Mank is available on Netflix from December 4 on Netflix in France.

American poster

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