March 2023



Operation Finale (2018)

DIRECTOR: Chris Weitz

CAST: Oscar Isaac, Ben Kingsley, Melanie Laurent, Nick Kroll, Haley Lu Richardson, Michael Aronov, Joe Alwyn, Lior Raz, Torben Liebrecht, Greg Hill, Greta Scacchi, Peter Strauss, Russell Simon Beale


Operation Finale is a well-crafted, sure-handed, engaging spy thriller chronicling in unvarnished docudrama fashion the (mostly) true story of the 1960 mission by agents of Mossad (Israeli secret service) to track down, apprehend, and extradite fugitive Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann from his hiding place in Argentina.  It’s not the first production about this subject (there is a 1996 TV movie, The Man Who Captured Eichmann, starring Arliss Howard as lead Mossad agent Peter Malkin and Robert Duvall as Eichmann), but it’s the most big-budget and the best quality.  It’s a good starting point for anyone unfamiliar with the story, and worth a watch for those who already are, even if it doesn’t really bring much new to the genre. Continue reading

Denial (2016)

denialDIRECTOR: Mick Jackson

CAST: Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall, Andrew Scott


Denial is a courtroom drama that relies less on ostentatious Oscar clip wannabe closing speeches and theatrics than meticulous cross-examination, and a true story that doesn’t embellish the material to up the ante.  The result is a stately, dignified film that will bore those without an interest in the subject matter but may appeal to fans of courtroom dramas or for those with an interest in the true story. Continue reading

Everything Is Illuminated (2005)

DIRECTOR: Liev Schreiber

CAST: Elijah Wood, Eugene Hutz, Boris Leskin


One could see how actor Liev Schreiber’s directorial debut might strike a cord with him personally (like the film’s protagonist, Schreiber is Jewish), but while Everything Is Illuminated might mean something to Schreiber, that doesn’t mean it translates that meaning to a mainstream audience.  An adaptation of the same-named book by Jonathan Safran Foer, a semi-fictionalized account of his real-life quest into his family’s Holocaust-era background, Everything Is Illuminated has earnest intentions and some humorous and poignant moments, but the overall experience is too muted and too obtuse to reach the illuminating profundities it aims for.  There are bright spots in 110-minute journey, but too much tedium to contend with for insufficient rewards. Continue reading

Conspiracy (2001)

DIRECTOR: Frank Pierson

CAST: Kenneth Branagh, Stanley Tucci, Colin Firth, Ian McNeice, Kevin McNally, David Threlfall, Ewan Stewart, Brian Pettifer, Nicholas Woodeson, Jonathan Coy, Brendan Coyle, Ben Daniels, Barnaby Kay, Owen Teale, Peter Sullivan


This Made-For-TV HBO original movie, based on the sole surviving copy of the transcript of the infamous Wannsee Conference, will likely be found “boring” by those without an interest in the historical subject matter—after all, at least on the surface, it consists of nothing but fifteen men sitting around a table talking—but for those with an interest, Conspiracy is a disturbing docudrama that embodies the phrase “the banality of evil”. Continue reading

Schindler’s List (1993)

DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg


Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Embeth Davidtz, Caroline Goodall


Oskar Schindler was an unlikely hero. German businessman and war profiteer, womanizer, slave laborer, and a member of the Nazi Party with prominent friends within the SS, he happily moved in on the heels of the conquering German Army and set up an enamelware factory in occupied Krakow, taking advantage of cheap Polish-Jewish labor in the service of the Third Reich. Yet coming into such close contact with Jews at a time when his own government was implementing plans for their total annihilation seems to have lit a spark of humanity within the opportunistic Schindler, and by the Nazis’ downfall in 1945, he had bankrupted himself and his factory and endured repeated arrests by the Gestapo to bring nearly 1,200 Polish Jews safely through the war and the simultaneously blazing Holocaust. This German war profiteer and nominal Nazi had saved more Jews than any other individual. And yet, for decades afterward, his story, and theirs, remained largely untold. Continue reading