From the outside looking in, the path from writing a screen play to seeing it on film is a simple process. But show business, like any business does not always make it easy for the screenwriter(s) to see their work come to life.
The 1941 film Citizen Kane is one of those movies that has been admired by generations of audience members. Directed by then twenty something wunderkind Orson Welles and co-written by Herman J. Mankiewicz, the story of the making of this film is as legendary as the film itself. The new Netflix film Mank tells the story of how the movie was was made.
In 1940, Mankiewicz, known as Mank (Gary Oldman) is commissioned by Welles (Tom Burke) to write a screenplay. As a writer, Mank is known as one of the best. But he is also an alcoholic and can be upfront in his opinions, which are not always polite or welcomed. The screenplay he writes is based on the time he has spent with the uber-wealthy William Randolph Hurst (Charles Dance) and Hurst’s much younger, long time mistress Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried). Mank knows the scandal that will be created upon the release of the movie. But he and Welles forge on and ultimately create one of the most beloved and admired films to come out of Hollywood.
Every year, the various movie studios release films that are nothing but Oscar bait. Mank is one of them. Combining movie history with history from the period and the complicated politics of the era, it is not your average “behind the scenes” movie. If nothing else, Oldman is sure to receive any number of nominations, if not awards for his work. I loved that it was filmed in black and white, making it feel authentic. The problem is that it is slow narrative, possibly turning off some viewers.
There are some genres that force both writers and audiences to limit themselves. The science fiction genre allows the opposite, taking the writer and the audience into a world of limitless possibilities.
The 2011 movie, In Time, is set in a future where time is currency. In this world, the average person’s life expectancy is 25. After one has reached their 25th birthday, they are genetically programmed to stop aging. That is, unless one can buy enough time and live forever. While the rich remain young and immortal forever, those not blessed with the ability to buy unlimited amounts of time must get creative on how they acquire and use additional time.
Starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, the film is both a traditional science film and a message movie about class status. What surprised me about this movie is that unlike other singers, Justin Timberlake is not a bad actor. The problem with the movie is not with the premise of the film or the performers, but that the creative time could have lightened up the narrative a little.
Some might say that Romeo and Juliet is William Shakespeare’s most romantic play.
In the film, Letters to Juliet (2010) Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) wants to be a writer. On vacation in Verona, Italy with her boyfriend Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal), Sophie discovers the “Secretaries Of Juliet”. These women have taken it upon themselves to read the thousands of letters that visitors leave to the fictional Juliet.
One of the letters stands out. When she was a young woman, Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) briefly dated an Italian boy. While the relationship ended decades ago, Claire has not yet given up on the Italian boy she fell in love with. Roped into the journey of finding Claire’s teenage sweetheart is her reluctant grandson, Charlie (Christopher Egan).
I liked this movie. What this movie proves is that romantic love is not just the exclusive property of the young. It also proves that an older female performer has bring in an audience as much as her younger counterpart can. This movie is sweet and romantic without being too sappy or predictable.
Most of the iconic high school/teen movies are from the 1980’s or 1990’s. Mean Girls, premiering in 2004, is one of the few movies of recent memory that I think deserves to be included on the list of iconic teen movies.
Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) has been home schooled for most of her life. Now she is going to public school for the first time. She settles in socially initially with Janis (Lizzy Caplan) and Damian (Daniel Franseze). Then the Plastics, the most popular girls in school come calling. Regina George (Rachel McAdams) is the leader of the trio with Gretchen Wieners (Lacey Chabert) and Karen Smith (Amanda Seyfried) following right behind her. Trouble starts when Cady falls for Aaron Samuels (Jonathan Bennett), Regina’s ex boyfriend.
Lindsay Lohan is brilliant in this movie. It should have been the start of a long and beautiful career. Instead it is one of her best movies, which is now ten years old. Rachel McAdams was perfectly cast as Regina, queen bee in the social hierarchy that is high school. Despite the fact that it is a movie, it is so true to the high school experience. Adding to the greatness of this movie are the SNL alumni playing some of the adult characters.