starring Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Charles Dance
screenplay by Jack Fincher
directed by David Fincher
by Walter Chaw I thought a lot, as I am wont to do from time to time, of the 1996 adult film Shock: Latex 2--directed by an interesting artist working in a devalued genre, Michael Ninn--while watching David Fincher's new film, Mank, based on the life of Hollywood Golden Age screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz. Both films are fetish items, anchored to a specific time and aesthetic, and both deal with eroticized figments of active, sometimes onanistic, imaginations. They even use the same techniques to imitate mediums, the better to replicate sensations attached to genres, cults of personalities, periods of time. The former, the literal porno, has transitional scenes involving a Marilyn Monroe lookalike who serves as a sort of phantasmagoric guide loosely tying together a series of otherwise largely-disconnected vignettes. (Clive Barker uses this rampantly eroticized icon to similar effect in his short story "Son of Celluloid.") Fincher, meanwhile, uses screenplay-text chyrons to announce sequences involving an entire cast of cunning simulacrums of objects of that same fetishistic--at least for the cinephile--significance.