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Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Review of OPERATION FINALE

Operation Finale, rated PG-13
****

Operation Finale is a tense, well-acted film based on the true story of the 1960 top secret mission to capture leading Nazi figure Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The film is directed by Oscar nominee Chris Weitz (About a Boy), and written by first-time screenwriter Matthew Orton.  Orton thoroughly researched the story, and the film stays mostly to the story exactly as it happened. Weitz filmed the movie in Argentina in the same actual locations where the events took place.
As the Allies marched toward Berlin in the spring of 1945 it became apparent that the Third Reich would fall. Some of the Nazi leaders, including Hitler, committed suicide rather than being captured. Adolf Eichmann, played in this film by Oscar winner Ben Kingsley (Gandhi) was among those who did not. Eichmann, the architect of the Final Solution, the wiping out of the Jewish population which would result in the murder of six million Jews, was originally captured by Allied forces, but he escaped the prison camp, eventually landing in Argentina with his family in 1950.
Peter Malkin, played by Golden Globe winner Oscar Isaac (Show Me a Hero), is a member of Israel’s intelligence agency known as the Mossad. His job is to take out former Nazi leaders, but he has been known to make mistakes on missions, sometimes with deadly results. Malkin’s older sister and her young children were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
Fifteen years after the war, we meet Sylvia Hermann, played by Haley Lu Richardson, a young woman living in Argentina. She was sent there from Germany as a child during the war to live with her uncle. What she doesn’t know, since she was raised as a Catholic, is that she is really a Jew. She begins dating Klaus Eichmann, played by Joe Alwyn, who takes her to a Nazi gathering. Over dinner, her blind father Lothar Hermann, played by five-time Golden Globe nominee Peter Strauss (Men Don’t Tell, Kane & Abel), becomes suspicious when Klaus tells him his last name. This eventually leads to the discovery that Adolf Eichmann is living as Ricardo Klement in Argentina with his wife and two children, working as a foreman at a Mercedes Benz factory.
Israel soon sends a Mossad intelligence team to Argentina to capture Eichmann and bring him back to Israel to stand trial. Peter Malkin is a part of that team. His former girlfriend Hanna, played by Mélanie Laurent (Inglorious Bastards), who has also made mistakes on similar missions like this, is recruited to be the doctor on the trip. (Note: this part of the film was fiction. There was a doctor on the team, but the doctor was Yonah Elian, a male).
When the Mossad arrive in Argentina, they find that there are police and government officials who are sympathetic to Eichmann. Argentina’s fascist-leaning government had created a safe haven for Nazi war criminals. According to the Argentinean government, Eichmann will have to agree in writing to his deportation. Can the team get Eichmann to sign the document before the mission is discovered?
The film centers on the relationship between the captor and prisoner, with Malkin trying to understand Eichmann as more than a monster. Both actors give excellent and perhaps Oscar worthy performances.
The musical score by Alexandre Desplat, was particularly effective, especially during an opening credits scene.  The entire cast is solid, including Lior Raz, who plays Isser Harel, the director of the Argentinian operation.
Themes include sacrifice, justice, family, and the horrors of the Holocaust.
Content concerns include adult language, and Holocaust war violence, often depicted in flashback dreams of Malkin.
Overall, Operation Finale is a tense, well-acted true story of the 1960 secret mission to capture leading Nazi figure Adolf Eichmann that I would highly recommend.


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My Review of The Jungle Book

The Jungle BookThe Jungle Book, rated PG
****

This “live action”, heavily computer generated, film is released on the 49th anniversary of the 1967 animated film, the last cartoon feature overseen by Walt Disney, and released one year after his death.

The new film is directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Elf, Chef). The screenplay, based on the book by Rudyard Kipling, is by Justin Marks. The film is darker than parents may anticipate, and too scary for very young children. While an adaptation of the 1967 film, (which I’ve never seen), the filmmakers chose to include elements from Kipling’s novel to make the film more adventurous and dangerous. Jungle locations in India were photographed and used as reference for the jungle environment in the film.  All the locations in the film are computer-generated VFX.

Mowgli is played by 12 year-old Neel Sethi. When a very young boy, Mowgli’s father was killed in a cave by the large Bengal tiger Shere Khan, voiced by Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom). Shere Khan’s face is badly scarred by fire, which the animals call “red flower”, something they greatly fear. As a result, Shere Khan hates Mowgli and wants revenge.

Mowgli was saved by the black panther Bagheera, voiced by Ben Kingsley. He brings him to a pack of wolves to be raised by mother Akela, voiced by Lupita Nyong’o and father Raksha, voiced by Giancarlo Esposito, where he is known as a mancub. Several times throughout the film we hear Kipling’s poem “The Law of the Jungle” recited by the animals.

But Shere wants Mowgli dead and will kill others until they turn over Mowgli to him. To protect his family from Shere, Mowgli decides to leave the jungle. He is guided in his journey back to the human village by Bagheera the panther and the honey-loving bear Baloo (hilariously voiced by Bill Murray). Along the way he runs into the huge seductive python Kaa, voiced by Scarlett Johanson, and King Louie, a gigantic ape, voiced by Christopher Walken.  King Louie sings a song from the 1967 film “I Wanna Be Like You”.

The Jungle Book animatedI thoroughly enjoyed this creative film, which utilizes the latest technology, a strong cast and a classic story. I loved seeing all of the jungle animals (the elephants who are revered and bowed down before as the creators of the jungle, birds, monkeys, etc.). My favorite was Baloo the bear, and a great scene is Mowgli and Baloo singing “Bare Necessities”, as they float down the jungle river. That is among the few lighter moments in this often tense film, as Mowgli is being pursued by Shere.

The creative ending song as the credits begin to roll, featuring King Louie, is worth staying in your seats for. A full version of “Trust in Me (The Python’s Song)” by Kaa follows that over the rest of the credits.

Sadly this was Garry Shandling’s final film, just a few weeks after his March 24 death from a heart attack. Shandling voiced Ikki the porcupine.

Jungle Book 2 has been announced, and is planned for release in 2018.