Fight Club and the 21st Century

How Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and David Fincher foretold 9/11 and Trump.

Lili Anolik
August 9, 2021
Vanity Fair

Photographs by Merrick Morton

Let’s break all the rules, or at least rules one and two. Let’s talk about Fight Club. The movie, released in 1999, is directed by David Fincher and based on a novel, published in 1996, by Chuck Palahniuk. It stars Brad Pitt and Edward Norton playing, respectively, the id, named Tyler Durden, and the superego, named Jack (though that name is theoretical, as he’s never actually addressed by it), a man in the midst of an identity crisis; and Helena Bonham Carter, playing Marla Singer, the woman in love with them/him. I could tell you what Fight Club is about, but that would be like imposing a plot on a dream. And in any case, I don’t need to tell you, since Tyler Durden’s kiss—a soft press of lips followed by cooling saliva followed by burning lye—has been seared into our consciousness just as it’s been seared into Jack’s flesh: You already know it even if you haven’t seen it.

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In Place

Queue gets behind the scenes with a look at Mank’s defining locations.

March 9, 2021
Netflix Queue

Shot in black and white, David Fincher’s Mank transports audiences through the sights and scenery of Golden Age Hollywood and 1930s and 40s California. With the help of soundstages, matte paintings, and a lot of research, the team behind Mank’s locations communicates the glamour and history of an epic era of moviemaking. 

Queue explores some favorites.

Family Story

Director David Fincher looks back on how Mank made it to the screen.

Nev Pierce
February 19, 2021
Netflix Queue

Portraits by Michael Avedon

When Jack Fincher became a parent, he shared his lifelong love of cinema, and his regard for screenwriters in particular, with his son, David. “Jack felt this was a really difficult kind of writing, and something he had great respect for,” David Fincher says, looking back. “He also believed that the beleaguered writer was not a cliché due to personality type, but because they often had to bite their tongues as they watched idiots take their ideas and mangle them.” (On that point, the Oscar-nominated director begs to differ.)

Eventually, David encouraged Jack — who was by that time retired from his journalism career — to try his own hand at screenwriting. Those efforts have now solidified into one of David Fincher’s most acclaimed films to date, a project that also serves as an homage to his father, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2003.

Mank chronicles how screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz came to pen the first draft of what would one day be Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane. Like so many films, Mank was years in the making, and it long loomed in David’s consciousness. Father and son initially discussed the idea in the 1990s, when David was graduating from music-video director to rising-star filmmaker. As Jack completed various revisions, they had many fruitful clashes over the direction of the screenplay.

Over the years, it became clear that the project was unlikely to see the light of day. It fell by the wayside and Jack fell ill. “He ended up having chemo to worry about, and not so much the rewrites,” David recalls. “We would talk about it from time to time. I would take him to his chemo — he was in therapy a little bit in the last couple of months of his life — and we would talk about it in the car, shoot the shit. But it was understood that this would not be something that would ever get made. And that was O.K.”

David Fincher moved forward, building an acclaimed body of work that includes Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Gone Girl. Ultimately he arrived at a place where he could turn his focus to that elusive project from his past. Suddenly, Mank was something that could get made, and made the way he wanted: in dazzling black and white, with a superior cast carrying it forward.

Nev Pierce spoke to David Fincher in this edited excerpt from the book Mank, The Unmaking

Read Mank, The Unmaking

Mank, The Unmaking

January 28, 2021
Netflix

manktheunmaking.com

Text by:

Nev Pierce

Photography by:

Erik Messerschmidt
Miles Crist
Gisele Schmidt-Oldman
Gary Oldman
Ceán Chaffin
Nikolai Loveikis

“Mank” from Assouline Books

Film critic and journalist Courtney Howard has reported on Twitter that Netflix is sending a gorgeous “For Your Consideration” promotional gift: a “Mank” coffee table book from Assouline, the luxury books publisher.

“I gasped unboxing this breathtaking @MankFilm Assouline book. It’s filled with stills from the film, behind-the-scenes photos and interviews with the cast & crew. I will cherish this coffee table book. #Mank

The text is by Nev Pierce. And the photography by Erik Messerschmidt, Miles Crist, Gisele Schmidt-Oldman, Gary Oldman, Ceán Chaffin, and Nikolai Loveikis.

Images by Courtney Howard

Assouline has published other impressive books about Netflix productions: Roma, The Irishman, Marriage Story, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Let’s hope “Mank” will also be commercially available soon.

The Mank Production Images by Miles Crist

Miles Crist (Instagram)

“Excited to share these images which I have been working on for the past year in support of Mank. Thank you to David Fincher and Ceán Chaffin for the opportunity to witness and photograph the production of this incredibly unique film. Scorsese said that the most personal is the most creative, and as such, Mank is Fincher’s best film yet.” [1]

“I shot everything digitally, 95% of it on a Leica Q2. I spent a lot of time making everything look like 4×5 – scanning vintage negatives to place around the images, decreasing depth of field/softening the photos by adding Gaussian blur in Photoshop, adding shadow and highlight halation, dodging and burning every image to get the best tonality out of the files while emulating panchromatic film, adding vignetting, and the right amount of grain. I could never have achieved these shots using 4×5, and it was David Fincher’s idea to do this all digitally, and in the process make something that looks even better than film.”

“The reason I chose the Q2 was for its high resolution, as well as its ability to achieve shallow depth of field on a wide angle lens, which I then augmented even further in post.”

“I didn’t push the ISO very often, shooting at f1.7 helped. I don’t like to go above base (50) on the Q2. For Mindhunter I used the Q, as the Q2 wasn’t out yet.” [2]

thewhitewinecameupwiththefish.com

Mank: “The White Wine Came Up with the Fish”

The Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak, and Hollywood Classics“. By Sydney Ladensohn Stern:

One of his most-repeated wisecracks originated at a dinner party hosted by Arthur Hornblow Jr., a cultured and talented producer so sophisticated that he and Myrna Loy celebrated their divorce with a party at the Mocambo nightclub. The elegant Hornblow was known for lavishing care on his food and wine, but on that occasion, Herman drank so much that he had to bolt from the table to vomit. “Don’t worry, Arthur,” he airily told his host afterward. “The white wine came up with the fish.”

thewhitewinecameupwiththefish.com

Images by Miles Crist
Additional images by Gisele Schmidt & Gary Oldman, Nikolai Loveikis

𝙸𝚗 𝚜𝚎𝚕𝚎𝚌𝚝 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚛𝚜 𝙽𝚘𝚟𝚎𝚖𝚋𝚎𝚛 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚘𝚗 Netflix 𝙳𝚎𝚌𝚎𝚖𝚋𝚎𝚛 𝟺

Mank: In Front of and Behind the Scenes

Netflix

Herman ‘Mank’ Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) drunkenly harangues the dinner guests at Hearst Castle

Directed by: David Fincher
Produced by: Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth, and Douglas Urbanski
Written by: Jack Fincher
Score by: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
Costumes by: Trish Summerville
Edited by: Kirk Baxter, ACE
Production Design by: Donald Graham Burt
Photography by: Erik Messerschmidt, ASC
Co-Produced by: Peter Mavromates & William Doyle

Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried) sits in growing horror as her dinner party is disturbed by Mank

Cast:
Gary Oldman as Herman J. Mankiewicz
Amanda Seyfried as Marion Davies
Lily Collins as Rita Alexander
Arliss Howard as Louis B. Mayer
Tom Pelphrey as Joe Mankiewicz
Sam Troughton as John Houseman
Ferdinand Kingsley as Irving Thalberg
Tuppence Middleton as Sara Mankiewicz
Tom Burke as Orson Welles
Joseph Cross as Charles Lederer
Jamie McShane as Shelly Metcalf
Toby Leonard Moore as David O. Selznick
Monika Gossmann as Fraulein Freda
and Charles Dance as William Randolph Hearst

William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance) beside MGM’s Louis B. Mayer (Arliss Howard)

Gary Oldman as Herman Mankiewicz (Gisele Schmidt/NETFLIX)

Gary Oldman (as Herman Mankiewicz), Sean Persaud (as Mank’s colleague Tommy), and Gaffer Danny Gonzalez, before a LED backdrop of the desert (Gisele Schmidt/NETFLIX)

Gary Oldman (as Herman Mankiewicz) shot with the RED Monstro 8K Monochrome by Camera Operator Brian Osmond (Nikolai Loveikis/NETFLIX)

𝙸𝚗 𝚜𝚎𝚕𝚎𝚌𝚝 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚛𝚜 𝙽𝚘𝚟𝚎𝚖𝚋𝚎𝚛 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚘𝚗 Netflix 𝙳𝚎𝚌𝚎𝚖𝚋𝚎𝚛 𝟺

Mank: Official Teaser

Netflix

1930s Hollywood is reevaluated through the eyes of scathing wit and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish Citizen Kane.

Starring: Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Charles Dance

Cast: Lily Collins, Arliss Howard, Tom Pelphrey, Sam Troughton, Ferdinand Kingsley, Tuppence Middleton, Tom Burke, Joseph Cross, Jamie McShane, Toby Leonard Moore, Monika Gossmann

2h 11m

Click to enjoy the images in glorious 5K, full quality, and full screen view:

𝚆𝙴𝙻𝙻𝙴𝚂
(𝚎𝚡𝚝𝚎𝚗𝚍𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚑𝚊𝚗𝚍)
𝙼𝚊𝚗𝚔? 𝙸𝚝’𝚜 𝙾𝚛𝚜𝚘𝚗 𝚆𝚎𝚕𝚕𝚎𝚜.⠀
⠀⠀⠀⠀
𝙼𝙰𝙽𝙺
(𝚎𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚒𝚣𝚎𝚍)
𝙾𝚏 𝚌𝚘𝚞𝚛𝚜𝚎 𝚒𝚝 𝚒𝚜.

Orson Welles played by Tom Burke

𝙸𝚗 𝚜𝚎𝚕𝚎𝚌𝚝 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚛𝚜 𝙽𝚘𝚟𝚎𝚖𝚋𝚎𝚛 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚘𝚗 Netflix 𝙳𝚎𝚌𝚎𝚖𝚋𝚎𝚛 𝟺