Meewella | Critic

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Tag: Amanda Seyfried

QuickView: Mank (2020)

“This is a business where the buyer gets nothing for his money but a memory. What he bought still belongs to the man who sold it. That’s the real magic of the movies.”

Louis B. Mayer

With the freedom afforded by Netflix, Fincher explores 1930s Hollywood by painstakingly creating a black and white film that feels as though it might have been unearthed from that era. It is something of a niche endeavour but the results are remarkable. Structurally, it is less convoluted than it first appears, using the screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz’s work on the screenplay for Citizen Kane as a vehicle for his reminiscing through a series of flashbacks about his experiences with the Hollywood figures who inspired the story. Gary Oldman’s larger than life characters have always been entertaining, but the nuanced roles he has chosen of late reveal his true depth as an actor — as Mank he is self-confident and witty but not always likeable, with alcoholism and a need to sound smart often eroding any self-restraint. Fincher’s focus is less on how Citizen Kane was written than the squalid nature of Hollywood as seen through Mank’s disillusioned eyes, with executives performing as much as actors to manipulate others, and the lies of the silver screen feeding into politics. What holds the film back is (in common with much of Fincher’s work) a lack of emotional weight to any of Mank’s relationships, all of which seem considered rather than felt, more in character for Welles than the erratic Mankiewicz.

8/10

QuickView: Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Jennifer's Body quad poster

“No. I mean, she’s actually evil. Not high school evil.”

Needy Lesnicky

Jennifer’s Body paired Girlfight director Karyn Kusama with writer Diablo Cody, fresh off her debut hit in Juno. Although critically panned, the duo plainly set out to create something different within the exploitation horror genre and the result has gained cult status over time even if it remains deeply flawed. Pairing Megan Fox with the more talented Amanda Seyfried only serves to highlight her acting limitations, though for the most part Fox is required simply to be sultry and unrepentant. The witty teenage dialogue that felt natural in Juno (aided immeasurably by Elliot Paige’s delivery) here sounds stilted, as if Diablo Cody is trying too hard to be youthfully cool. Jennifer’s Body may be tongue-in-cheek but its overt humour rarely lands. A pointed scene intercuts Jennifer’s seduction of a victim, stylised in the usual Hollywood fashion and softly bathed in candlelight, with Needy’s first time, brightly lit and awkwardly fumbled like a genuine and healthy teenage sexual experience. Yet, since the script ultimately still leans heavily on genre tropes, it has little fresh to say, save perhaps that Jennifer’s promiscuity had nothing to do with her becoming evil.

4/10

"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2022 Priyan Meewella

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