Jews in News: Peter Malkin, Melanie Laurent and James Franko

Operation Finale

“Operation Finale”, which opened on August 29, is a dramatization of the capture of Adolf Eichmann in Argentina in 1960 by Israeli Mossad agents. Eichmann, of course, was the SS officer who headed-up the round-up of European Jews during the Holocaust. There is a lot of talent involved in this film and I hoped that it would turn out to extraordinary because the subject matter deserves a great movie. However, early “Finale” reviews by leading outlets, like “Variety” and “The Guardian”, were not very good. The acting was praised, especially Ben Kingsley as Eichmann and Oscar Isaac as PETER MALKIN (1927-2005). Malkin was a leading member of the team that captured Eichmann. As depicted in the film, he heavily interrogated Eichmann before Eichmann was smuggled out of Argentina and flown to Israel for trial.  Also praised: how the film establishes the “Nazi-welcoming” atmosphere of Argentina-- and its exciting re-creation of Eichmann’s last hours in Argentina (he was drugged and put on an EL Al plane under the nose of Argentine officials).

This line from the “Variety” review seems to sum up most reviews: “[Y]et taken on its own here’s how it really happened terms, the movie is at once plausible and sketchy, intriguing and not fully satisfying.” Most of the criticism seems to be most directed to the interrogation scenes. But also getting the thumbs-down are some invented details, like an Israeli nurse ( played by French actress MELANIE LAURENT. 35) who wasn’t really there (she’s supposed to Malkin’s old flame).  The film is directed by CHRIS WEITZ, 48 (who had three Jewish grandparents). The Jewish members of the cast include NICK KROLL, 40, PETER STRAUSS, 71, and ALLAN CORDUNER, 68.

If you get the Amazon Prime streaming service, do check out "The Eichmann Show", a 2005 BBC TV movie that dramatizes the hurdles that American director LEO HURWITZ (1909-1991) and an Israeli TV producer had to overcome to get permission to film the trial and, later, to get the worldwide news media to show their daily trial footage. Its a very interesting story that I was unaware of before. The BBC film received mostly very good reviews. Hurwitz won a 1961 Emmy for an American TV special ("Verdict for Tomorrow") that was mostly made-up of his footage of the most important moments of the trial.

Other Flicks

“Kin” opens wide on Friday, August 31. It’s a sci-fi/action crime thriller about two adopted brothers on the run. Shortly after being released from jail, Elijah (Jack Reynor), who is about 25, is forced to flee with his teen brother Jimmy (Miles Truitt). They are being pursued by crime lord Taylor Bolek (JAMES FRANCO, 40) and an army of otherwordly soldiers. The brothers’ only protection is a mysterious ancient weapon. The supporting cast includes Dennis Quaid as the brothers’ father and ZOE KRAVITZ, 29, as Milly, Jimmy’s girlfriend.

“The Little Stranger” and “Juliet, Naked” open in many cities on Aug. 31. Currently, no Tampa opening is scheduled. But they will probably play Tampa if they do good box-office elsewhere.  “Stranger” is based on an acclaimed 2009 Gothic novel that reviewers said went beyond “spooky stuff” and touched on serious issues, like class (especially the decline of the English landed gentry). As the movie begins its 1947 and Dr. Faraday (Domhnall Glesson; “Ex Machina”), the son of a housemaid, is called to treat a maid at Hundreds Hall, an 18th century country manor that is falling apart. He becomes acquainted with the manor’s almost-broke owner, Angela Ayres (Charlotte Rampling) and her two adult children, Caroline and Roddy. Faraday begins treating Roddy (Will Poulter), a disfigured WWII pilot, for his wounds and for post-traumatic stress. He forms a sometimes romantic relationship with Caroline (Ruth Wilson). Things start to turn spooky when a child visiting the house is mauled by a previous placid dog. A series of increasingly traumatic events occur, which may or may not have a supernatural origin.

The director is Irish Jew LENNY ABRAHAMSON, 51, who helmed a number of acclaimed indie films before receiving a best director Oscar nomination for “Room” (2015). “Room” was also a best picture nominee. “Kin” star Jack Reynor, whose mother is Irish, had his breakthough role in Abrahamson’s 2012 film, “What Richard Saw.”  Back in 2014, Abrahamson accurately said that he is “the third most famous Irish Jew” (behind the late CHAIM HERZOG, an Israeli general who became President of Israel, and the late ROBERT BRISCOE, lord mayor of Dublin).

“Juliet, Naked” is a comedy-drama based on a novel of the same name by big-selling British author Nick Hornby (“About a Boy”, “High Fidelity”). It focuses on the story of Annie (Rose Byrne) and her unlikely romance with singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke). The complication is that Annie’s boyfriend (Chris O’Dowd) is a huge Crowe fan. The director is JESSE PERETZ, 50, the son of MARTY PERETZ, 79, the former publisher of “The New Republic.” The screenwriters include Jesse’s sister, EVGENIA PERETZ, 48, and TAMARA JENKINS, 56 (“Slums of Beverly Hills”).



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