Oscar Isaac Makes The Move To WME

EXCLUSIVE: Oscar Isaac, who most recently starred in Chris Weitz’s MGM movie Operation Finale and is reprising the role of Poe Dameron in Star Wars: Episode IX, has signed with WME for representation in all areas.
Isaac, who won a Golden Globe in…

EXCLUSIVE: Oscar Isaac, who most recently starred in Chris Weitz’s MGM movie Operation Finale and is reprising the role of Poe Dameron in Star Wars: Episode IX, has signed with WME for representation in all areas. Isaac, who won a Golden Globe in 2016 for HBO’s Show Me a Hero, has several film projects in the works including starring in JC Chandor’s ensemble Triple Frontier, the long-gestating dramatic thriller set up at Netflix. He also voices Gomez Addams in MGM’s…

‘The House With a Clock in Its Walls,’ ‘The Nun’ Top Studios’ TV Ad Spending

In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Universal Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “The House With a Clock in Its Walls.” Ads placed for the fantas…

In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Universal Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “The House With a Clock in Its Walls.” Ads placed for the fantasy film had an estimated media value of $4.48 million through Sunday for 944 national […]

Listen: Oscar Isaac, Chris Weitz on the Challenge of Creating Nazi Leader Adolf Eichmann’s Capture in ‘Operation Finale’

WASHINGTON — “Operation Finale,” the new movie about the Israeli Mossad’s capture of Adolf Eichmann, portrays the former Nazi leader as a family man living a quiet life in 1960s Argentina. “We would like to kind of dismiss…

WASHINGTON — “Operation Finale,” the new movie about the Israeli Mossad’s capture of Adolf Eichmann, portrays the former Nazi leader as a family man living a quiet life in 1960s Argentina. “We would like to kind of dismiss these perpetrators of the Holocaust as ‘the other,’ as Nazis and stock villains and Germany as a unique […]

Box Office: ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Heads for Huge Labor Day Weekend

The summer 2018 box office is officially ending on a high note. An August surge is thanks partially to “Crazy Rich Asians,” the Warner Bros. romantic comedy that is still doing crazy good business in North America. Jon M. Chu’s film w…

The summer 2018 box office is officially ending on a high note. An August surge is thanks partially to “Crazy Rich Asians,” the Warner Bros. romantic comedy that is still doing crazy good business in North America. Jon M. Chu’s film will top the domestic box office for the third week in a row with estimates […]

‘Crazy Rich Asians’ to Top Labor Day Box Office With $30 Million

“Crazy Rich Asians” is doing crazy well. The Constance Wu-starrer is likely to threepeat as the box office topper over the Labor Day weekend, with $30 million for the four-day period. It’s projected to bring in $23 million Friday thro…

“Crazy Rich Asians” is doing crazy well. The Constance Wu-starrer is likely to threepeat as the box office topper over the Labor Day weekend, with $30 million for the four-day period. It’s projected to bring in $23 million Friday through Sunday. The Warner Bros. rom-com will join “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” “Black Panther,” and “Avengers: […]

‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Showing Staying Power With $25 Million Labor Day Weekend

“Crazy Rich Asians” will easily win its third box office title during the Labor Day weekend box office with a total of around $25 million at 3,536 North American sites for the Friday-Monday period, early estimates showed. Warner Bros.&#8217…

“Crazy Rich Asians” will easily win its third box office title during the Labor Day weekend box office with a total of around $25 million at 3,536 North American sites for the Friday-Monday period, early estimates showed. Warner Bros.’ romantic comedy will become the fourth title this year to three-peat as the box office winner, […]

Haley Lu Richardson Has One of Hollywood’s Most Diverse Careers, But She Really Wants to Bring Back Classic Dance Films

This season, the actress stars in a Nazi-hunting drama, a “breastaurant” comedy, and a Louise Brooks biopic. She tells IndieWire her big idea for what’s next.

Girl Talk is a weekly look at women in film — past, present, and future.

Haley Lu Richardson says she isn’t a workaholic, but the last few weeks at the multiplex tell a different story. “Somehow the two movies that I’ve done recently are just coming out the same month,” she told IndieWire in a recent interview. “I would rather do quality over quantity. I would rather do one, maybe two things a year and be really, really passionate about them. … Now they’re [both] coming out, and then for a year I’m going to be like, ‘Oh, I guess I’ve done nothing in my life recently.'”

The two films couldn’t be more different: one is the Nazi drama “Operation Finale,” in which the bubbly actress stars as a young Jewish girl who helps bring SS officer Adolf Eichmann to justice, and the amiable comedy “Support the Girls,” where she’s cast as a happy-go-lucky waitress at a Hookers-esque “breastaurant.” Next month, she’ll premiere “The Chaperone” at LAFF, in which she portrays silent movie legend Louise Brooks as she approaches her big break.

Richardson has been plotting her own big break for some time. Like Brooks, she was just a teenager when she decided to make a real go of this career-in-entertainment thing.

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover UsageMandatory Credit: Photo by Burn Later Productions/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (9838587h) Haley Lu Richardson as Maci, Regina Hall as Lisa 'Support the Girls' Film - 2018

“Support the Girls”

Burn Later Productions/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

“I’d never played a real character, and she’s pretty iconic,” Richardson said. “And I don’t look anything like her! But what we did have in common is her moving from a small town to New York when she’s 15, 16 years old to pursue dancing. A chaperone, who’s Elizabeth McGovern, comes with her and it’s the story about how they affect one another. That resonated with me, because I moved to LA from Arizona when I was 16 to dance and act and my mom came with me and [we have] this bond and we learned from each other.”

The film also offered her the chance to dance, something she’s been itching to fold into her burgeoning acting career. “I dance here and there, but I’m not as competitive nearly or intense as I used to be,” she said. “But my dream is to do a dance movie, like a real proper [dance movie], bring back the dance movie like Fred Astaire, but now in a contemporary [setting].”

When asked if she knew about Sam Rockwell’s recently announced Bob Fosse miniseries, she lit up. She’s already sent in a “last-minute” dance reel in the hopes that the production might be able to find a part for her.

After Richardson and her mom arrived in Hollywood, the actress booked a bunch of TV roles, including a recurring part on the ABC Family series “Ravenswood” and a guest spot on Disney’s “Shake It Up.” It’s her film work that most people recognize her from, including her work in the Hailee Steinfeld-starring “Edge of Seventeen,” in which she managed to take a classic best friend part and turn it into something special.

“Even when I wasn’t even getting auditions and casting directors didn’t give a shit about me, I knew I was going to do this for a living and do it for my passion because I was committed,” Richardson said. “I feel like the past seven years since I moved to LA, every year [I’ve been] doing something a little bit more seen, a little bit more interesting to me. I’ve gotten to be a little bit more picky every year and I’ve learned more. … After ‘Split’ and ‘Edge of Seventeen’ came out, then people were like, ‘Oh, yeah, you’re an actual actor.'”

She started getting offers for parts, not requests “to come in five times to audition.” Asked if she felt any pressure to make the jump to franchises and superhero stories, Richardson said no, though she’s not ruling them out.

Haley Lu Richardson in the Edge of Seventeen

“Edge of Seventeen”

“I haven’t felt pressure, but I would do one if it was a fun one that I really thought was cool,” she said. “Would I want to be some sidekick girlfriend in some big [movie]? I don’t know. Maybe I would do it if it was written really well and I was really excited about all the people involved. I feel like that would be another challenge to make such a big world like that grounded in a way. I feel like that would be fun.”

At the other end of the spectrum, she earned some of the best reviews of her career (plus a Gotham nomination for best actress) in video essayist Kogonada’s debut film, “Columbus.” “I think part of the reason why I love it so much is because I loved the experience I had making it,” she said. “When you work hard, it is nice to have people be affected by it. That’s the thing about that movie, which was different than any movie I’ve ever been in, people really got what all we set out to do.”

The accolades were nice, too. “I was like, ‘People might never say this kind of stuff about me again, so I might as well accept it and enjoy it right now,'” she said.

To relax, Richardson has a hobby: crocheting, with an Etsy shop, Hooked by Haley Lu. “It’s like the one thing I have in my life where I don’t put pressure on myself because I don’t really have expectations for myself to be the best crocheter in the world, so I just have so much pure joy doing it,” she said. “And it’s very therapeutic. My mom taught me when I was eight, so I’ve literally just been doing it ever since. … I feel like it’s so important for me at least to not just have acting be my creative outlet, because I put way too much pressure on myself with that.”

But really, no, she’s not a workaholic. “I think I just have to keep really trusting myself,” she said. “My mom reads pretty much every script I’m offered still, and she sends me emails saying, ‘Mom’s two cents.’ I’m not even kidding. I could pull up hundreds of ‘Mom’s two cents’ emails. I think I just have to trust the people around me and my gut. I really want to dance. Dance is the most important thing.”

“Operation Finale” and “Support the Girls” are in theaters now.

Box Office: ‘Operation Finale’ Picks Up $1 Million on Wednesday

MGM’s “Operation Finale” opened on Wednesday with $1 million in 1,818 locations. That’s a promising start for the crime drama, which is aiming for around $10 million over the six-day period. Set after World War II, “Operat…

MGM’s “Operation Finale” opened on Wednesday with $1 million in 1,818 locations. That’s a promising start for the crime drama, which is aiming for around $10 million over the six-day period. Set after World War II, “Operation Finale” follows Israeli Mossad agents who track down SS officer Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley), one of the chief […]

‘Operation Finale’ Kicks Off Labor Day Weekend Early With $1M Wednesday

MGM’s Mossad spy thriller Operation Finale opened yesterday to $1M at 1,818 locations, a solid start for a political thriller aimed at adults and in sync with similar titles that have played the last weekend of summer.
Yesterday’s results a…

MGM’s Mossad spy thriller Operation Finale opened yesterday to $1M at 1,818 locations, a solid start for a political thriller aimed at adults and in sync with similar titles that have played the last weekend of summer. Yesterday’s results are ahead of the opening day of the 2011 Labor Day weekend political thriller, Focus Features’ The Debt ($970K which went on to a $8.2M 3-day, $12.8M 4-day) and ahead of Oscar-winner The Constant Gardener ($929K opening day, $8.6M 3-day…

‘Operation Finale’: Steven Spielberg Helped Sir Ben Kingsley Portray the ‘Impenetrable’ Nazi Adolf Eichmann

In taking on another tough real-life role, the Oscar winner tells IndieWire how Spielberg and “Schindler’s List” helped guide his process, decades later.

Sir Ben Kingsley has built a career on real-life portrayals, from his Oscar-winning role in “Gandhi” to lauded composer Dmitri Shostakovich in “Testimony.” However, it’s his work in projects related to the Holocaust and World War II that may resonate the most, including playing Anne Frank’s father in a 2001 miniseries, Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal in 1989’s “Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story,” and perhaps most notably, Oskar Schindler’s accountant Itzhak Stern in Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List.”

Kingsley’s obvious depth of feeling for those parts make it striking that his latest role puts him literally on the wrong side of history. Chris Weitz’s “Operation Finale” dramatizes the 1960 operation to bring former SS officer and unrepentant Nazi Adolf Eichmann (Kingsley) to justice following his years-long escape to Argentina. He’s a twisted, terrifying figure, and even Kingsley didn’t relish the work, but he also was unafraid of what it required of him.

“It was a portrait that I was commissioned to paint,” Kingsley said. “He entered my studio, I put him on canvas, on film, with my craft. But I managed to protect myself from him … One can portray some person and not become infected by them or altered by them or begin to attempt to get into his head, because I still believe that is impossible. That head is impenetrable.”

While Kingsley inoculated himself from Eichmann, there are plenty of characters he’s happily let in over the years. Roles like Gandhi, Frank, and Stern sustained him when faced with something as challenging and dark as Eichmann.

“When it does linger, it is sometimes because I have had a great empathy for them, or sympathy,” Kingsley said. “Gandhi I loved. Simon Wiesenthal I loved. Otto Frank, I loved playing him. And Itzhak Stern in ‘Schindler’s List,’ I loved playing him. So there was an act of affection in my portrait there, and I allowed them in, because they sustained and nourished a side of me. They continued to sustain and nourish a side of me that had to portray this man.”

Even so, Kingsley endeavored to find the human being within — not to honor him, but to honor the people he harmed.

“The dilemma is that it was a human being. He was a human being,” the actor said. “He did not land from Mars. He was not a monster. Not a two-dimensional comic-strip villain. So that approach in my portrait would have been a grave disservice to his victims. … Rather than inhabit him, I decided to dedicate my performance to them, to his victims. So the torturer doesn’t have the last word, and to quote Elie Wiesel, the last word belongs to the victim.”

Kingsley is particularly fixated on that point: even while playing the “architect of the Holocaust,” the actor wanted to stay grounded by his respect and admiration for his character’s victims. Kingsley’s familiarity with the history of the time comes after decades of making films about World War II and the Holocaust.

“Schindler’s List”

“I have become acquainted with the heroics of others who are dealing with overwhelming grief with, I find, astonishing dignity,” Kingsley said. “And those that I have met, thanks to Steven Spielberg and his Shoah Foundation, and also my long, deep conversations with Simon Wiesenthal when I portrayed him, once they have overcome the trauma — which probably takes years, if ever, to overcome — they are able to articulate and to share their experiences.”

Kingsley can’t say enough about Spielberg’s work and the impact that “Schindler’s List” and its enduring legacy has had on the world at large. After filming his best picture winner, Spielberg was so intent on keeping the stories of survivors alive that he founded the USC Shoah Foundation to record their testimonies. The filmmaker originally aimed for 50,000 testimonies; more than 20 years later, the foundation has recorded almost 55,000. “I think that Steven Spielberg made an enormous contribution to our consciousness with the Shoah Foundation,” he said. “I think his contribution to our enlightenment is enormous.”

When asked what he hopes audiences take away from Weitz’s film, he offered a simple answer: open some minds, and provide a peek at something previously unseen. “Our job is to surprise as well as enlighten,” he said.

He remains intent on using his work to remind people of a history that can never be forgotten, to use art and storytelling to ensure that the unfathomable never becomes forgettable.

“Let us please take time to digest the immeasurable loss of six million European Jews,” he said. “What a gap in the universe, the consequences of which we are probably still suffering from. … I sense that the aftershock, certainly in Europe, the aftershocks of that indigestible lump of history, as Axel Waldenbucher called it, will never be understood. I’m not so sure it will ever be absorbed, but we must tell stories in order to allow people to accept the fact that it did happen. It’s not old, grainy, black-and-white movie footage from the past. We are living in that present. We are living in the aftershock of that event.”

“Operation Finale” is in theaters today.

‘Operation Finale’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer claims the top spot in spending with “Operation Finale.” Ads placed for the drama had an estimated m…

In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer claims the top spot in spending with “Operation Finale.” Ads placed for the drama had an estimated media value of $4.04 million through Sunday for 968 national ad airings on 29 networks. (Spend figures are […]

Before ‘Operation Finale,’ Check Out This Award-Winning Short Film

Hidden away on the other side of the world 15 years after World War II ended, a team of agents from an Israeli security agency intercepted a man named Ricardo Klement, a name they knew to be an alias for Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the Nazi’s “Final Solution.”

This fascinating story has been the subject of several books, articles, documentaries and features, including, most recently, “Operation Finale,” starring Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley as Eichmann and opening in theaters this week.

According to one filmmaker, “Operation Finale” isn’t even the whole story. Randall Christopher is the director of “The Driver Is Red,” a short film making the festival circuit that played at Sundance earlier this year and also just won TheWrap’s Industry Prize at the ShortList Film Festival.

Also Read: ‘Operation Finale’ Film Review: Strong Ensemble Infuses Passion Into Conventional Retelling of Adolf Eichmann’s Capture

The animated, hybrid documentary short likewise tells the story of the capture of Eichmann, but, he tells TheWrap, his film is based on the perspective of one of the lesser known “unsung heroes” of the operation: Zvi Aharoni.

“Operation Finale” is based largely on the account of Peter Malkin and his book “Eichmann in My Hands,” which was also adapted into a TV movie starring Robert Duvall, called “The Man Who Captured Eichmann.” But Christopher says Malkin’s account is “heavily embellished,” saying that Malkin was, in some regards, more of the muscle on the job, the one who physically grabbed Eichmann, rather than the mastermind behind the operation.

“Zvi Aharoni only wrote his book in the ’90s, he’s really open about this, to set the record straight,” Christopher said. “He would’ve never written that book if Peter Malkin had never written his book.”

Also Read: How Nazis, Drunk College Kids and Stubborn Goats Shaped This Year’s ShortList Finalists (Video)

Christopher added that Malkin may have had an axe to grind with Aharoni and even downplayed Aharoni’s role in his telling of the events. Christopher points to an article in which some of the surviving members of the team said that Aharoni was the one who provided the greatest contribution to the mission.

“People always puff up a little bit what they did,” Christopher said, explaining why there are so many conflicting accounts of this one moment in history.

While “Operation Finale” may provide the slick, Hollywood action version of the story, Christopher hopes that his short can serve as a helpful counterpoint to the more widely known version of events.

“I had a real priority in faithfulness to what happened. I wasn’t trying to make a Hollywood movie,” Christopher said. “I would say, check out ‘The Driver is Red’ because it has this unknown history about this operation people don’t know about.”

Also Read: ShortList 2018: ‘The Driver Is Red’ Tells Timely Holocaust Story With Line Drawings (Video)

You can read more about “The Driver is Red” on TheWrap, and see below for an upcoming list of festivals where you can catch a screening of the short:

  • Odense International Film Festival (Denmark)
  • Nova Frontier Film Festival, Brooklyn
  • DC Shorts Film Festival, Washington DC
  • Quebec City Film Festival
  • Gig Harbor Film Festival, WA
  • Conscious Cartoons Film Festival, WA
  • Calgary International Film Festival
  • Edmonton International Film Festival
  • 3D Wire, Segovia, Spain
  • Hamptons International Film Festival, Hamptons NY
  • Joyce Forum Short Film Festival, San Diego
  • Ojai Short Film Festival, CA
  • San Diego Film Festival, San Diego
  • San Jose International Short Film Festival
Related stories from TheWrap:

How Nazis, Drunk College Kids and Stubborn Goats Shaped This Year’s ShortList Finalists (Video)

ShortList 2018: Why ‘Nevada’ Director Chose Naked Puppets to Tell Her Sexy Story (Video)

ShortList 2018: ‘Wave’ Filmmakers on the Importance of Language in Internet Age

Hidden away on the other side of the world 15 years after World War II ended, a team of agents from an Israeli security agency intercepted a man named Ricardo Klement, a name they knew to be an alias for Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the Nazi’s “Final Solution.”

This fascinating story has been the subject of several books, articles, documentaries and features, including, most recently, “Operation Finale,” starring Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley as Eichmann and opening in theaters this week.

According to one filmmaker, “Operation Finale” isn’t even the whole story. Randall Christopher is the director of “The Driver Is Red,” a short film making the festival circuit that played at Sundance earlier this year and also just won TheWrap’s Industry Prize at the ShortList Film Festival.

The animated, hybrid documentary short likewise tells the story of the capture of Eichmann, but, he tells TheWrap, his film is based on the perspective of one of the lesser known “unsung heroes” of the operation: Zvi Aharoni.

“Operation Finale” is based largely on the account of Peter Malkin and his book “Eichmann in My Hands,” which was also adapted into a TV movie starring Robert Duvall, called “The Man Who Captured Eichmann.” But Christopher says Malkin’s account is “heavily embellished,” saying that Malkin was, in some regards, more of the muscle on the job, the one who physically grabbed Eichmann, rather than the mastermind behind the operation.

“Zvi Aharoni only wrote his book in the ’90s, he’s really open about this, to set the record straight,” Christopher said. “He would’ve never written that book if Peter Malkin had never written his book.”

Christopher added that Malkin may have had an axe to grind with Aharoni and even downplayed Aharoni’s role in his telling of the events. Christopher points to an article in which some of the surviving members of the team said that Aharoni was the one who provided the greatest contribution to the mission.

“People always puff up a little bit what they did,” Christopher said, explaining why there are so many conflicting accounts of this one moment in history.

While “Operation Finale” may provide the slick, Hollywood action version of the story, Christopher hopes that his short can serve as a helpful counterpoint to the more widely known version of events.

“I had a real priority in faithfulness to what happened. I wasn’t trying to make a Hollywood movie,” Christopher said. “I would say, check out ‘The Driver is Red’ because it has this unknown history about this operation people don’t know about.”

You can read more about “The Driver is Red” on TheWrap, and see below for an upcoming list of festivals where you can catch a screening of the short:

  • Odense International Film Festival (Denmark)
  • Nova Frontier Film Festival, Brooklyn
  • DC Shorts Film Festival, Washington DC
  • Quebec City Film Festival
  • Gig Harbor Film Festival, WA
  • Conscious Cartoons Film Festival, WA
  • Calgary International Film Festival
  • Edmonton International Film Festival
  • 3D Wire, Segovia, Spain
  • Hamptons International Film Festival, Hamptons NY
  • Joyce Forum Short Film Festival, San Diego
  • Ojai Short Film Festival, CA
  • San Diego Film Festival, San Diego
  • San Jose International Short Film Festival
Related stories from TheWrap:

How Nazis, Drunk College Kids and Stubborn Goats Shaped This Year's ShortList Finalists (Video)

ShortList 2018: Why 'Nevada' Director Chose Naked Puppets to Tell Her Sexy Story (Video)

ShortList 2018: 'Wave' Filmmakers on the Importance of Language in Internet Age

Box Office: ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Looks to Lead Slow Labor Day Weekend

This summer’s surprisingly strong August might end on a low note with the lack of high-profile releases over Labor Day Weekend. That might not be cause for concern, considering popcorn season is up over 13% compared to 2017. The weekend should, a…

This summer’s surprisingly strong August might end on a low note with the lack of high-profile releases over Labor Day Weekend. That might not be cause for concern, considering popcorn season is up over 13% compared to 2017. The weekend should, at the very least, top the dreary holiday last year, which was the worst […]

‘Operation Finale’: Why Joe Alwyn Wanted to Play a Real-Life Nazi After His ‘Billy Lynn’ Breakout

After breaking out in Ang Lee’s ambitious adaptation, the actor explains to IndieWire why he wanted to pursue the kind of role many would find unsettling.

Part history lesson, part moral reckoning, Chris Weitz’s “Operation Finale” dramatizes the 1960 operation to bring former SS officer Adolf Eichmann to justice following his years-long escape to Argentina. The film follows Israeli intelligence officers Oscar Isaac, Mélanie Laurent, and Nick Kroll as they hunt the unrepentant Nazi, capture him, and take him to Israel to stand trial. Along the way, their efforts are thwarted by many, including Eichmann’s eldest son, Klaus (Joe Alwyn), who has long embraced his father’s twisted ideals.

Alwyn was drawn by a true story, a slice of history that continues to compel the world, the opportunity to work with a living legend like Sir Ben Kingsley (who plays Eichmann), and the challenge of presenting a multidimensional villain.

“The way that I wanted to try and play him wasn’t as a kind of 2D baddie with no kind of other sides to him, but hopefully that, in another world, he could have otherwise been a decent, normal good guy,” he said. “You hope that maybe with [his relationship with] Sylvia (Haley Lu Richardson) at the beginning of the film, there could have been in another world where he realizes that it doesn’t matter about her religion and that they could try and be together. But obviously, that hope is kind of dashed when his dad is taken.”

For the actor, the key to the character was his relationship with his father, a man that Klaus idolizes and doesn’t wholly understand. “I think his choice to follow in his dad’s footsteps, rather than coming from some strong nationalistic feelings himself, more comes out of a loyalty and love of his father,” he said. “I thought that was interesting, that you could have him find empathy in that situation of what Klaus is kind of born into.”

Instead of being hobbled by the tilt of Klaus’ narrative arc — in the film, as in real life, the character is never “redeemed” — Alwyn attempted to empathize with the broader implications.

“I found it interesting and sad, even if he isn’t redeemable,” Alwyn said. “I think he doesn’t fully understand what his dad has done and what he’s responsible for. It’s quite an abstract thing to him. I think the war crimes of his dad … he hasn’t quite computed it and so he’s being dragged further and further into this world without actually recognizing the kind of full implications of what it means.”

The actor said earlier versions of the film included scenes that tapped into that disconnect between history and Klaus’ comprehension. “There was a conversation that Klaus has with his mother after his dad has been taken, asking her about what he’s done before, as if in a way that he doesn’t quite recognize the severity of it all, quite what it means,” Alwyn said. “There were moments kind of peppered throughout where he’s more on the fence about where he belongs and which path he thinks he should take.”

“Operation Finale”

Although the actor was bent on finding glimpses of humanity in his character, he readily admitted it was a tough task. “He is, of course, not a nice character, not a good person,” he said.

Given the current cultural climate, Alwyn hopes the film will serve as a reminder of the pain that hatred, ignorance, and bigotry can inflict on humanity. “Given the kind of rise of right-wing nationalism in the world today, it’s a reminder that even decades later these divisions continue,” he said. “The world has to remain strong and fight against bigotry and pursue justice.”

“Operation Finale” is only Alwyn’s third film credit, but it’s not his first foray into stories set during times of cultural heartbreak. As the eponymous Billy Lynn of Ang Lee’s 2016 film “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” Alwyn made his debut in a technologically ambitious work (Lee’s film was the first, and so far only, to be shot using 120fps) about a traumatized soldier thrust into the national spotlight.

The film made its world premiere at the New York Film Festival, where it was touted as a Special Presentation, but flamed out when it was released in theaters just weeks later. Ultimately, it only made $1.7 million at the U.S. box office (globally, it pulled in just under $29 million).

“I wish more people had seen it than they did,” Alwyn said. “But I think the way that it was made with the technology that was used, there was always only going to be a limited amount of people that could see it in that way. That was gonna be a very expensive way of showing the film and definitely proved problematic in being able to screen it in that way, which is definitely a shame. But I still feel so proud of the film.”

Still, “Billy Lynn” served as a major coming out for the actor. “Doing that film definitely opened up a lot of doors,” he said, adding that “having been spoiled by working with Ang as [my] first director, I wanted to try and find more great filmmakers to learn from and build in that way.” That meant finding projects he was passionate about making, “even if it was just a supporting role … rather than just jumping into something big for the sake of it.”

The upcoming fall season speaks to that intent; over the next few weeks, he will appear in Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favourite,” Joel Edgerton’s “Boy Erased,” and Josie Rourke’s “Mary, Queen of Scots.”

“Operation Finale” will arrive in theaters on Wednesday, August 29.

‘Alpha’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Columbia Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Alpha.” Ads placed for the drama ha…

In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Columbia Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Alpha.” Ads placed for the drama had an estimated media value of $3.94 million through Sunday for 1,708 national ad […]

‘Operation Finale’ Film Review: Strong Ensemble Infuses Passion Into Conventional Retelling of Adolf Eichmann’s Capture

Ben Kingsley has embodied Jewish heroes as iconic as Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal (“Murderers Among Us”), Anne Frank’s father Otto (“Anne Frank: The Whole Story”), and businessman Itzhak Stern (“Schindler’s List”). In “Operation Finale,” he adopts another perspective altogether, portraying the ultimate villain in Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.

The innately intense Kingsley isn’t an ideal match for the mild-mannered murderer who inspired philosopher Hannah Arendt to coin the phrase “the banality of evil.” But like the rest of the cast, he holds our attention even when the movie buckles under the burden of earnest intentions.

Once you get past the jarring collection of mismatched accents, it’s a pleasure to be in the company of pros like Oscar Isaac, Mélanie Laurent (“Beginners”), Nick Kroll, and Michael Aronov (“The Americans”). But as Mossad agents, their characters find little pleasure in the task designed by their intimidating boss (Lior Raz) and approved by no less than Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion (Simon Russell Beale, “The Death of Stalin”): to secretly travel from Tel Aviv to Buenos Aires, risking their own lives in order to capture the elusive Eichmann.

Watch Video: Oscar Isaac Is a Mossad Spy in First Trailer for ‘Operation Finale’

The script’s blunt approach is indicated early on, when Argentine teen Sylvia (Haley Lu Richardson, “Support the Girls”) meets her new boyfriend at a showing of the 1959 racial drama “Imitation of Life.” Sure, it’s a nice way for director Chris Weitz (“A Better Life”) to give a shout-out to his mother, Susan Kohner, one of the film’s stars. But it’s an awfully obvious metaphor for the secretly-Jewish-passing-as-Catholic Sylvia, who proudly brings home the handsome, ultra-Aryan Klaus Eichmann (Joe Alwyn, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”).

Sylvia’s father (Peter Strauss) is stunned to realize he’s got a Nazi heir casually eating dinner at his house and immediately alerts Israeli authorities. While Klaus courts Sylvia by bringing her to terrifying Nazi rallies, the Mossad team begins devising a proposal to bring the elder Eichmann to justice.

The plan is a supremely dangerous one: Peter (Isaac), Rafi (Kroll), Isser (Raz), and Hanna (Laurent) are among the undercover agents who fly to Buenos Aires in hopes of airlifting Eichmann out. But first they have to kidnap him without the notice of his loyal wife (an underused Greta Scacchi) or Fascist henchman (a chilling Pêpê Rapazote, “Narcos”). Then they need to hold him at a hidden safe house that could be discovered at any moment by anti-Semitic local leaders. Worse still, the plane on which they hope to smuggle him out can’t take off unless Eichmann signs a document in which he freely agrees to be tried in Israel.

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That unlikely requirement should be enough to create tension on its own, and Weitz does build a sense of palpable panic around these impossibly high stakes. Moreover, because the movie primarily takes place in 1960, everyone on the Israeli team has been directly impacted by the Holocaust. Eichmann was a chief organizer of the Final Solution, responsible for sending millions of Jews — including Peter’s sister and her children — to their deaths.

That being the case, it strains credulity when we’re asked to believe that a personally haunted, professionally brilliant spy like Peter could be so easily drawn in by his crafty prisoner. First-time screenwriter Matthew Orton often seems to be going more for broad-stroke dramatics than gripping authenticity, given that he’s crafted a fairly generic biopic out of what was truly one of the most remarkable missions in modern history.

But it’s evident that he and Weitz believe passionately in their project, as does this wide range of first-rate actors. Every one of the supporting players makes an impact in his or her brief scenes, with standouts including the luminous Laurent and an effectively subdued Kroll, although both could have used more to do.

Watch Video: James Corden Stops London Traffic With Ben Kingsley for ‘Mary Poppins’ Crosswalk Musical

Indeed, the movie really belongs to the central pair, to such a degree that it often feels like a two-hander. Kingsley and Isaac are unusually charismatic actors, which elevates each of their cat-and-mouse scenes. Though it’s off-putting to watch Kingsley humanize a man who dedicated himself to monstrous acts, it was Eichmann’s apparent ordinariness that became his second legacy: the banality that Arendt so famously described after watching him defend himself as a cog in larger machinery.

Both Weitz and Orton are keenly aware of the parallels between Eichmann’s era and our own, and though they don’t hit them too hard, their intent is powerfully clear. This urgency (aptly accentuated by Alexandre Desplat’s score), and the sincere commitment of all involved, gives the movie a greater weight than its labored pacing and bland visuals otherwise might.

It’s a shame the filmmakers felt constrained by the import of their subject matter, rather than inspired to take some artistic risks. But even when the storytelling falters, the story itself — not merely extraordinary, but eternally relevant — remains paramount.



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Nick Kroll’s ‘Big Mouth’ Lands Season 2 at Netflix

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Amazon Orders Jordan Peele’s Nazi-Hunting Show to Series

Ben Kingsley has embodied Jewish heroes as iconic as Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal (“Murderers Among Us”), Anne Frank’s father Otto (“Anne Frank: The Whole Story”), and businessman Itzhak Stern (“Schindler’s List”). In “Operation Finale,” he adopts another perspective altogether, portraying the ultimate villain in Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.

The innately intense Kingsley isn’t an ideal match for the mild-mannered murderer who inspired philosopher Hannah Arendt to coin the phrase “the banality of evil.” But like the rest of the cast, he holds our attention even when the movie buckles under the burden of earnest intentions.

Once you get past the jarring collection of mismatched accents, it’s a pleasure to be in the company of pros like Oscar Isaac, Mélanie Laurent (“Beginners”), Nick Kroll, and Michael Aronov (“The Americans”). But as Mossad agents, their characters find little pleasure in the task designed by their intimidating boss (Lior Raz) and approved by no less than Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion (Simon Russell Beale, “The Death of Stalin”): to secretly travel from Tel Aviv to Buenos Aires, risking their own lives in order to capture the elusive Eichmann.

The script’s blunt approach is indicated early on, when Argentine teen Sylvia (Haley Lu Richardson, “Support the Girls”) meets her new boyfriend at a showing of the 1959 racial drama “Imitation of Life.” Sure, it’s a nice way for director Chris Weitz (“A Better Life”) to give a shout-out to his mother, Susan Kohner, one of the film’s stars. But it’s an awfully obvious metaphor for the secretly-Jewish-passing-as-Catholic Sylvia, who proudly brings home the handsome, ultra-Aryan Klaus Eichmann (Joe Alwyn, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”).

Sylvia’s father (Peter Strauss) is stunned to realize he’s got a Nazi heir casually eating dinner at his house and immediately alerts Israeli authorities. While Klaus courts Sylvia by bringing her to terrifying Nazi rallies, the Mossad team begins devising a proposal to bring the elder Eichmann to justice.

The plan is a supremely dangerous one: Peter (Isaac), Rafi (Kroll), Isser (Raz), and Hanna (Laurent) are among the undercover agents who fly to Buenos Aires in hopes of airlifting Eichmann out. But first they have to kidnap him without the notice of his loyal wife (an underused Greta Scacchi) or Fascist henchman (a chilling Pêpê Rapazote, “Narcos”). Then they need to hold him at a hidden safe house that could be discovered at any moment by anti-Semitic local leaders. Worse still, the plane on which they hope to smuggle him out can’t take off unless Eichmann signs a document in which he freely agrees to be tried in Israel.

That unlikely requirement should be enough to create tension on its own, and Weitz does build a sense of palpable panic around these impossibly high stakes. Moreover, because the movie primarily takes place in 1960, everyone on the Israeli team has been directly impacted by the Holocaust. Eichmann was a chief organizer of the Final Solution, responsible for sending millions of Jews — including Peter’s sister and her children — to their deaths.

That being the case, it strains credulity when we’re asked to believe that a personally haunted, professionally brilliant spy like Peter could be so easily drawn in by his crafty prisoner. First-time screenwriter Matthew Orton often seems to be going more for broad-stroke dramatics than gripping authenticity, given that he’s crafted a fairly generic biopic out of what was truly one of the most remarkable missions in modern history.

But it’s evident that he and Weitz believe passionately in their project, as does this wide range of first-rate actors. Every one of the supporting players makes an impact in his or her brief scenes, with standouts including the luminous Laurent and an effectively subdued Kroll, although both could have used more to do.

Indeed, the movie really belongs to the central pair, to such a degree that it often feels like a two-hander. Kingsley and Isaac are unusually charismatic actors, which elevates each of their cat-and-mouse scenes. Though it’s off-putting to watch Kingsley humanize a man who dedicated himself to monstrous acts, it was Eichmann’s apparent ordinariness that became his second legacy: the banality that Arendt so famously described after watching him defend himself as a cog in larger machinery.

Both Weitz and Orton are keenly aware of the parallels between Eichmann’s era and our own, and though they don’t hit them too hard, their intent is powerfully clear. This urgency (aptly accentuated by Alexandre Desplat’s score), and the sincere commitment of all involved, gives the movie a greater weight than its labored pacing and bland visuals otherwise might.

It’s a shame the filmmakers felt constrained by the import of their subject matter, rather than inspired to take some artistic risks. But even when the storytelling falters, the story itself — not merely extraordinary, but eternally relevant — remains paramount.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'Beautiful Boy,' 'A Star Is Born' Highlight Toronto Film Festival Lineup

Nick Kroll's 'Big Mouth' Lands Season 2 at Netflix

Nazi Titanic: The Horrific True Story of the Nazis' $180 Million Propaganda Film (Podcast)

Amazon Orders Jordan Peele's Nazi-Hunting Show to Series

‘Operation Finale’ Review: Oscar Isaac and Nick Kroll Hunt Nazis in Chris Weitz’s Uneven Historical Thriller

When it comes to morally conflicted period thrillers about a “Star Wars” actor hunting Nazis, you’re better off with “BlacKkKlansman.”

Arriving hot on the heels of “BlacKkKlansman,” Chris Weitz’s “Operation Finale” is a major addition to American cinema’s oddest new sub-genre: Morally conflicted period pieces in which “Star Wars” actors of various ethnicities are cast as sexy Nazi-hunters. Adam Driver as Flip Zimmerman, a Denver cop who went undercover to infiltrate the KKK in 1979? No complaints here. Oscar Isaac as Peter Malkin, the Mossad agent who caught Adolf Eichmann hiding in Argentina? Well…

If the willful obliviousness of the Trump era is inevitably going to result in a rash of new movies that investigate anti-semitism, the Holocaust, and/or the broader history of organized hatred, we could use Hollywood’s most relevant talent to help modern viewers appreciate why. “Operation Finale” may not be a particularly good thriller — it’s broader than the Jewish diaspora, and even pitchier than the delivery of my haftorah portion — but Poe Dameron sure helps the film to convey the urgency of its message.

A vintage dad movie that boasts the formal complexity of “Argo” and a fraction of the suspense, “Operation Finale” is (rather accurately) based on the real Israeli mission of the same name. The story begins 15 years after the end of World War II, and almost as long since many of the most prominent Nazis were hanged in Nuremberg. However, several of Hitler’s top lieutenants actually did return to their homes, burn their uniforms, and build new lives from the ashes of the world they had helped to destroy.

Peter Malkin (Isaac) isn’t happy about that. A German-born, Palestine-raised Jew with a hole in his heart and a license to kill, Malkin roams the European countryside, rooting out the surviving members of the S.S.. He’s happy to do it, but too blinded by trauma and rage to always do it well, or to question his task. The film’s off-kilter first scene finds him misidentifying a man in the Viennese countryside, and executing the wrong Nazi. After a brief moment of panic and doubt: “So what, he was still a Nazi.” Isaac plays this moment (and several more like it) for easy laughs, and somehow he manages to pull it off — the guy’s so charming he can literally get away with murder.

Meanwhile, in a quiet corner of Buenos Aires, a teenage girl named Sylvia Hermann (Haley Lu Richardson, wasted on a bit part) catches a screening of “Imitation of Life,” blithely unaware of her Jewish heritage, the dangers it presents, and how they might be reflected in Douglas Sirk’s classic melodrama. Sylvia, we learn, has a mutual crush on an Aryan immigrant named Klaus, and that kid is all too familiar with his bloodline (Joe Alwyn is frighteningly believable in the role). He even takes Sylvia to a vociferous Nazi meeting, because nothing makes a girl want to make out like a room full of impotent genocidal maniacs.

Klaus at least has the good sense not to tell Sylvia or anyone else that his father — the quiet man who works in the local Mercedes Benz factory — is actually Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley), the architect of the Final Solution and the highest-ranking member of Hitler’s inner circle to evade capture. Fortunately, Sylvia is smart enough to figure that out on her own. Word gets back to Tel Aviv, where Malkin is drafted onto a top-secret team of spies and tasked with a holy mission that supersedes international law: Go to Argentina, abduct Eichmann, and bring him to Israel so that he can stand trial before his victims. All of this actually happened, more or less.

“Operation Finale”

So begins an uneven thriller that starts like “Munich,” grows into “Ex Machina” (across the series of theatrical hostage scenes in which Malkin probes Eichmann’s humanity), and is always glazed with the slick banality of network TV. Despite the pluckiness of Alexandre Desplat’s score, and the playful severity that Nick Kroll and Mélanie Laurent bring to their roles as Malkin’s fellow spies, the first act of “Operation Finale” is too obvious to be suspenseful. For all of the moral ambiguity that it eventually hopes to entertain, Matthew Orton’s screenplay telegraphs most of its beats in large blinking lights, and spells out all of the emotions you’re supposed to feel along the way — even for a work of historical nonfiction, “Operation Finale” often feels like bowling with bumpers.

Eichmann himself is the worst embodiment of this problem. First presented as a mild-mannered ex-pat who might potentially feel some degree of remorse for his unspeakably horrific crimes, Eichmann can’t even get through his first big scene without boiling over with rage and throttling his son. This is the first of many indications that “Operation Finale” — eager to make Eichmann appear human — is deathly afraid of humanizing him too much.

It’s a deliberate bit of hedging in a film that pointedly refuses to pick sides between Hannah Arendt and Claude Lanzmann, between the “banality of evil” and the limitless cruelty of systematic extermination. How bad are the “good Germans?” How much blood do they have on their hands? Eichmann claims that he was “one of the many horses pulling the wagon and couldn’t escape left or right because of the will of the driver,” but at what point does individual responsibility enter the equation? Weitz and Orton mean to question the individual’s role in a mass atrocity, but the abstract nature of their ideas never squares with the rigidity of their storytelling. As a result, “Operation Finale” doesn’t feel ambiguous so much as it feels like it lacks a point of view.

It doesn’t help that Kingsley plays the former Nazi official like he’s related to Hannibal Lecter, all diabolical cunning and four-dimensional chess. If evil were so easy to identify, Eichmann never would have made it into Argentina. But the movies tend to get skittish around Nazis, who they want to complicate but can’t let off the hook. More often than not, that results in a two-faced villain who only reveals his full cruelty after the hero discovers that evil can hide in even the smallest sliver of darkness. In that respect, “Operation Finale” follows in the dubious tradition of “Marathon Man” and “Apt Pupil,” its dramatic shortcuts undoing all of the subtleties the film was meant to explore.

At least we get the the tense, uneasy scenes where Kingsley and Isaac square off against each other in that cramped Argentinian safe house, Eichmann arguing that he was just a cog in a killing machine, and Malkin trying to find catharsis for the personal trauma that haunts all of the men on his team (and him in particular). The Nazi’s guilt is taken for granted, but “Operation Finale” argues that perpetrators of evil are as personally responsible for the suffering they cause as victims of evil are for the suffering they carry.

That’s why the airless (but action-packed) third act of this handsomely mediocre movie hinges on a moment of self-sacrifice, even though Weitz bungles the consequences. That’s also why Mossad went to Argentina in the first place — all this effort, just to get one man to sit in a glass box on the other side of the world so that he can be witnessed by the people he made to suffer. There is justice to that, and perhaps even a measure of closure. But everyone has to make their own peace with the evil they encounter, and sometimes that process can swallow entire generations. The abduction may have been called “Operation Finale,” but at least the movie understands that — even at the end — the mission is still far from over.

Grade: C+

“Operation Finale” opens in theaters on August 24th.

Today’s Trailer Happy Hour has a soapy floor, Gilda Radner, and a submarine

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“We’re all animals,” says Sir Ben Kingsley’s Adolf Eichmann in this intense trailer for Operation Finale. “Some of us just have bigger teeth than others.”
So it goes in director Chris Weitz’s thriller about the…

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Mossad Spy Thriller ‘Operation Finale’ Moves Up To Labor Day Weekend

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