Tag Archives: ben kingsley

OPERATION FINALE (2018) – My rating: 8/10

Operation Finale is a historical drama, directed by Chris Weitz and screenplay by Matthew Orton. The film stars Oscar Isaac (who also produced).  I was anxious to see Operation Finale because I like learning about all that happened during the Holocaust. Most of these type films are brilliantly produced. Israeli spies from the Mossad work to track down and capture Adolf Eichmann.

** SPOILERS **

Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) an Israeli spy, was part of a team (Mossad) whose mission was to bring in a Nazi spy. The team abducted and shot the wrong man, who died outside his home, leaving his wife widowed and his children fatherless. Fast forward to 1960, Argentina — while at the movies, which featured “Imitation of Life“, a young girl named Sylvia Hermann (Haley Lu Richardson) encounters a young boy named Klaus Eichmann (Joe Alwyn) who was with friends seated in the back row of the theater. Klaus and his friends were making a bit of a ruckus, laughing loudly at the part of the movie when the daughter, passing for white, was discovered to be Black by her boyfriend.  Sylvia shushed them but only Klaus reacted by shushing her back. She repeated her action by shushing them again, only this time with a smile on her face. Klaus responded the same, also with a smile on his face. Later they met and started dating. Sylvia lived with her blind father, Lothar Hermann (Peter Strauss), who encouraged Sylvia to invite Klaus to dinner. During that dinner, Lothar questioned Klaus intently. When asked about his background, Klaus said that his father had died and his uncle took him in and raised him as if he were his very own son. He told of a grateful young man who had no place else to live. Soon after, word gets to Peter that they may have access to Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley) who was one of Hitler’s masterminds and executioners of the Holocaust. Peter would have to convince his superior, Isser Harel (Lior Raz) who became the Director of Mossad, that this may very well be a legitimate find. Isser  informed Peter, after what happened with the last mission, he couldn’t afford to screw up another one on a blind man’s suspicions. Eventually, Peter received word that the operation was a go. The team went into action, taking pictures of Klaus’ home and encouraging Sylvia to get involved. While dating, Klaus takes Sylvia to a meeting at the home of a prominent Nazi. They started off with Champaign and individual conversations where Sylvia met Carlos Füldner (Pêpê Rapozale) who questioned her name and background. Fortunately, the meeting started, saving Sylvia by the bell. When the meeting turned radical and aggressive, Sylvia abruptly left, which ended any chance of dating Klaus in the future. Sylvia was instructed by the Mossad team to bring a present to Klaus as a peace offering in order to get Adolf out in the open. When Sylvia entered the house, she was greeted with kindness and respect as she presented the present and said she and Klaus had had a misunderstanding and this was her way of apologizing. Klaus was not there but when he showed up, he was nasty and wanted nothing to do with Sylvia. She eased out the door and hurriedly walked toward the spot where she was dropped off, only to find the car gone, so she kept walking to the bus station. Klaus decided to go after her and find out why she left the meeting. When asked Sylvia said she wasn’t feeling well, but Klaus knew that wasn’t true. He tried to determine what would really make her leave and came up with, she might be a Jew. She confirmed his suspicions and asked did that really matter. Klaus became angry and didn’t answer her, indicating he wanted no part of a relationship with Sylvia. Once the team had gathered enough evidence, the investigation was in full swing complete with a plan to snatch Adolf and hold him in a safe house until the team could expedite him to Israel.

Operation Finale is an intense Holocaust story of bravery and determination. The team (Hanna Elian (Melanie Laurent), Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac), Rafi Eitan (Nick Kroll), Moshe Tabor (Greg Hill) and Zvi Aharoni (Michael Aronov ) who were still standing up against a Nazi regime had many problems protecting themselves as well as executing their mission. Since this is a true story, many may know of the details and end result. If you do not know, this movie is very enlightening. The story was well told and brilliantly acted. The film was released in the United States on August 29, 2018, and received mixed reviews from critics. If movies about the holocaust appeal to you, then this is a good one to check out.

 

THE JUNGLE BOOK (2016) – My rating: 9.2/10

TheJungleBookDisney has done it again. What a brilliant movie about a young boy, Mowgli, (Neel Sethi) forced to grow up in the jungle, raised by animals who view him as their own. When Mowgli’s human family was killed, he was saved by a panther called Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) and given to a pack of wolves to be raise. The mother of the pack, Rakasha (Lupita  Nyong’o) and their Leader, Akela (Giancario Esposito) taught Mowgli to be fast and efficient but would always remind him that he was human, not a wolf or any other animal, thereby having limitations with regards to the animals he ran with.  However, Mowgli was referred to as “the Man Cub” throughout the animal kingdom.  Mowgli was loved and protected by all except the most feared animal by all the others in their region of the jungle, a Bengal tiger called Shere Khan (Idris Elba).  When Mowgli was a baby, Shere Khan was scarred by the “red flower” (wild fire) as he attacked and killed Mowgli’s village including his father (Ritesh Rajan).  Bitter and angry about his scars, the tiger took to threatening the animals in the village where Mowgli lived, every chance he got.  After realizing Shere Khan was not going to leave the animals in peace, Mowgli decides it’s best to leave the pack.  After much thought, Bagheera the panther, agrees and decides to take Mowgli to the “Man Village”, where he would be protected and safe.  While in route, Shere Khan ambushes them and injures Bagheera, but Mowgli manages to escape, thanks to a herd of water buffalo.  Bagheera and Mowgli were separated during the struggle.  Mowgli looked for the panther but moves on when he doesn’t find Bagheera.  Next Mowgli encounters Kaa, an Indian Paython (Scarlett Johansson) who captivates him, placing him under her spell where he learns about his village and how he came to live with the animals.  While under her spell, Kaa tries to devour him but his life is saved by Baloo a sloth bear (Bill Murray) who befriends Mowgli.  From this point on, things get pretty adventurous.  Mowgli and Baloo’s new relationship allows Mowgli to perform human tricks that Bagheera and the rest of the animals always reprimanded him for using.  Being on his own, Mowgli was now left to fend for himself.   There is lots more trouble on the way as Mowgli is kidnapped and turned over to King Louie (Christopher Walken).

These animals were so life like, I kept wondering if they were actually real.  I found out that Disney used green screens and an advanced CGI to create these lifelike animals, which was only the tip of the iceberg.  The Jungle Book was shot entirely on a sound stage in downtown Los Angeles.  The technology combined a sort of hybrid “Avatar” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” (one Human surrounded by animated creatures).  In case you didn’t know, the tiger in “Life of Pi” was not real, but created using CGI.  Oscar winning Visual Effects Director, Rob Legato, who also oversaw “Avatar”, created a new standard for realistic CGI.  During the filming of The Jungle Book, Humans mimicked animals for Neel (who plays Mowgli) to talk to, this allowed an eye-line between Neel and the animals to be created.  The only time real animals were used was when puppies were brought in to give Neel an opportunity to cuddle and play with them.  The puppies would be replaced with the CGI wolves that were the same size.  Software such as Pixar’s Renderman, was used for shading and lighting.  MPC was used to allow more ray tracing, which is very expensive because it takes an enormous amount of computational power to figure out every pixel of light.  Peter Jackson’s WETA was used on scenes with King Louie, the gigantic ape.  Between surrounding grass and the hair on just 5 to 15 animals, you’re talking a tremendous amount of computing power.  While the software and technology developed and used to make these remarkable films are expensive, powerful and require passion and knowledge beyond the norm, the end results are absolutely astonishing.

The Jungle Book is an old family story for children and it’s very well told.  It has a profound message for all.  We live in a wonderful time of technology and can take advantage of all life has to offer on modernizing motion pictures like The Jungle Book.  It’s worth seeing what we’re able to do these days and escaping some of the horrific news of the day through the hard work and clever creations of the “Big Screen” productions like “The Jungle Book”.  I highly recommend seeing this one — it’s a real work of art!

[THE JUNGLE BOOK won the 89th ANNUAL OSCAR AWARD for Visual Effects]

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THE WALK (2015) – My rating: 8.5/10

TheWalkI kept wondering what kind of content could go into a movie about a walk between two buildings on a rope.  I realize it’s was between the tallest buildings in the world, however the movie was over two hours long.  I had no idea the preparation that went into an endeavor, a dream, an impossible, not to mention illegal feat, such as this.  The Walk captures your attention and engages your curiosity with the intensity of “The Donald” taking a midnight run alone through Spanish Harlem.  Joseph Gorden-Levitt plays Philippe Petit the actual French Tightrope Walker who made history when he walked between the World Trade Towers in 1974.  Philippe was much more than a tightrope walker, he was also a juggler, a magician and a street entertainer.  The Walk is a true story directed by Robert Zemeckis and in my opinion is sure to achieved an Oscar nod for his fabulous direction of this film.

The Walk opens with Philippe Narrating from atop the Statue of Liberty torch, overlooking the World Trade Towers.  Next Philippe is shown in Paris, France performing on a unicycle as the onlookers throw all sorts of delights to show their appreciation of his talents.  As he collects money and bites down on a hard piece of candy, he breaks a filling in his tooth causing great pain and a trip to the dentist.  There he discovers a picture of the World Trade Center, still under construction.  This is where his dream of wire walking between the Twin Towers is born.  He then meets “Papa Rudy” Omankowsky (Ben Kingsley) a Tightrope Walker who preforms at his own circus. Philippe convinces Papa Rudy to teach him some of his trade secrets and shares his future plans.  As the story moves on and the journey begins, Philippe meets many new characters who become accomplices and friends.  The film, of course moves from France to New York where the excitement mounts.  The actual walk between the towers takes your breath away.  This movie is an experience I’m glad I didn’t miss.  I highly recommend you take the time to check out The Walk.  It’s entertaining and well done.

SELF / lESS (2015) – My rating: 8.5/10

SelfLessFantasy movies have rocked the screen this summer.  While Self / less is not about a super hero, it touches on a subject that we’ve explored forever, immortality.  I’m going to critique this movie in two parts.  The first part for those who have not seen Self / less and the second part those who have.  So part two not only will give away the story but basically be a huge spoiler.

Ben Kinsley plays a wealthy business tycoon named Damian Hayes who is dying of terminal cancer at the ripe old age of 68.  A business card discreetly leads him to a contact named Professor Albright (Matthew Goode) and company offering a procedure called Shedding that transfers your consciousness into a genetically engineered healthy body.  In Damian’s case, $250M will give him a second chance at life.  He must say good bye to his current life, friends and family and tell no one.  This concept is nothing new, it’s just presented differently.  As the movie forges on, we begin to see that Professor Albright and his company isn’t as it seems.  Many lies come to light, which makes for a very interesting film. As Damian, who is on heavy medication, begins to experience heavy hallucinations, he is sure that something is terribly wrong.  He discovers that he is being lied to and there’s no one who can help him because his death was staged and his new body has no identifying marks of his past.  He is now Edward Hale (Ryan Reynolds), a younger man with no ties to Damian Hale.  I found Self / less interesting but full of questions for which there were no answers.  Despite the obvious, I still liked this movie and would recommend seeing it.

IF YOU HAVE SEEN SELF / LESS OR DON’T CARE ABOUT SPOILERS READ ON — IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN SELF / LESS THE FOLLOWING WILL SPOIL THE MOVIE FOR YOU!!!

Damian learns that his new body is a real person who sacrificed himself for money to save his dying, sick daughter.  After investigating, he discovers everything he needs to know about the procedure, Albright and his illegal company.  There are many twist in this movie that lead to many questions.  I am posting a few of the obvious ones.

These are some questions you might ask after seeing Self / less:

  1. How unstable of a person would you have to be to believe anyone has the technology to manufacture a body good enough to replace a human body that can fully function except the brain?
    If this technology did exist, why couldn’t they just make you look like you, only without being ill?
  2. What kind of person sacrifices a human being, including themselves or a loved one, for money.  Someone donated their perfectly healthy young son for some unknown reason.
  3. Since this procedure is contingent on a healthy brain, how can you offer a service that you can’t guarantee the outcome of your brain staying healthy and charge that kind of money?
  4. How long could Albright’s brain stay healthy?  What would be the contingency for his clients who continue to need his assistance?
  5. How long would it be before some of these people are recognized?

I don’t think the Company was well thought out.  There’s no way any plan this sloppy could survive.  Too many loose ends.