‘Mank’ is a movie designed to delight critics and cinephiles – all others, not so much

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“Mank,” a years-in-the-making passion project of David Fincher based on a script by his father, Jack, is a movie made for critics, cinephiles and deep-dive film historians. A whirligig retelling of how Herman Mankiewicz came to write the groundbreaking 1941 film “Citizen Kane,” filmed in velvety black-and-white and studded with fetishistic details of Hollywood’s Golden Age at its most silky and coyly subversive, “Mank” is designed to send its intended audience aloft on a cloud of nostalgia, albeit with pangs of remorse for what we’ve lost.Which makes the film’s disappointments all the more painful, and confounding. On paper, “Mank” promises equal measures of penetrating insight and pure delight: In the 1920s and 1930s, Mankiewicz — played to perfection by Gary Oldman — was a successful, if self-destructive, screenwriter in Hollywood, beckoning former Algonquin Round Tablers from the East Coast with promises of sun, fun and easy money. (“Millions are to be grabbed out here, and your only competition is idiots,” he famously telegrammed Ben Hecht.) When the film opens, it’s 1940, when a radio wunderkind named Orson Welles has received carte blanche to make whatever movie he wants and hires Mank, as he’s known, to create a script. …

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