Monthly Archives: August 2018

“PAYING THE PRICE FOR PEACE”— Striving for Peace

“Paying The Price For Peace”

Striving for Peace

Amos Lassen

As I sat down to write this review, I realized that the first paragraph of the press kit I received says it all so much better than I could, so I am quoting it here as it was written. “In 1987, S. Brian Willson, a Vietnam veteran sat down on the railroad tracks outside the Concord Naval Weapons Station in California to protest a shipment of weapons intended to arm the Nicaraguan Contra army. Underestimating the U.S. Navy s intolerance for peaceful protest, Willson lost both of his legs and suffered a fractured skull when the train was ordered not to stop. This is the story of one man who literally put his body on the line to dissent his country s imperialistic nature after witnessing U.S. savagery during the Vietnam War that changed his political convictions. Realizing that his power came not from bearing arms, but from bearing the truth, Willson has become one of today s most resolute voices against war. Including interviews with Martin Sheen, Daniel Ellsberg, Alice Walker, Ron Kovic, and narrated by Emmy Award-winner Peter Coyote, “Paying the Price for Peace” is a film that will embolden all people who strive for peace.”

We see how the actions of one man who dared to challenge this country’s foreign policy decisions changed history. Willson saw his country once again preparing to go to war and decided he could sit back, especially after having served in Vietnam. Willson’s anti-war feelings came put of the fact that not only had he fought for the United States but that he lost both legs doing so. Those experiences caused him to speak out against the actions of the United States government as it was going to support an unlawful war against Nicaragua. The United States was funding an external force, (the Contras), to overthrow the democratically elected government in Central America.

We see Willson’s path to activism that include protests and demonstrations and his blocking that munitions train on the tracks at the United States Navy Weapons Station in 1987 during which he almost died. He was able to mobilize 10,000 supporters who joined him at the tracks. The purpose of the film is to rise consciousness and awareness that citizens can become more involved in the government’s actions and that peace is the ultimate goal. We see that Willson is joined and supported by many important friends. We have always heard that peace comes out of love and we see here that sometimes we have to push a bit to find that love.

Willson indeed paid heavily for peace and we see him as “an iconic champion of deep conscience, intelligence and humanity”. There is so much more that I could say about this film but I would that all of you see it and understand that each of us has the power to do something for what we believe.

“THE PYJAMA GIRL CASE”— Based on a Real Event

“The Pyjama Girl Case”

Based on a Real Event

Amos Lassen

Director Flavio Mogherini brought the Italian giallo genre to Australia with “The Pyjama Girl Case”. The body of a young woman is found on the beach, shot in the head, burned to hide her identity and dressed in distinctive yellow pyjamas. With the Sydney police stumped, former Inspector Timpson (Ray Milland) comes out of retirement to crack the case. He pieces together the sad story of Dutch immigrant Glenda Blythe (Dalila Di Lazzaro) and the unhappy chain of events which led to her death. The movie was inspired by the real-life case which baffled the Australian police and continues to cause controversy and unanswered questions still today.

The victim was found on a beach, w/ her face burned beyond recognition. The police decide to put the charred, naked remains on public display in hopes that someone will recognize her and come forward. Thompson thinks this plan is nonsense. While he runs down leads, we are introduced to a woman named Glenda who has various, simultaneous affairs w/ men, one of whom is played by Mel Ferrer. The cops suspect a pervert, while Thompson seeks out his own clues. Glenda continues on in her complicated love life, which gets even more complicated as two of her lovers decide to take action against her and Glenda takes on three additional, totally anonymous lovers at once.. While the central idea of this movie is actually pretty interesting, and the final revelation is surprising, the film itself is much too long.

The screenplay uses the same names as the real people in 1934. The film is set in the 1970’s and in fact the whole movie other than a few facts is fiction.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS includes:

Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation

Original lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks

Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack

New audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films

New video interview with author and critic Michael Mackenzie on the internationalism of the giallo

New video interview with actor Howard Ross

New video interview with editor Alberto Tagliavia

Archival interview with composer Riz Ortolani

Image gallery

Italian theatrical trailer

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector s booklet featuring new writing by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

“HORRORS OF MALFORMED MEN”—Nightmarish and Hallucinogenic

“Horrors of Malformed Men”

Nightmarish and Hallucinogenic

Amos Lassen

Cult director Teruo Ishii’s “Horrors of Malformed Men” is a nightmarish, hallucinogenic tale that was inspired by Edogawa Rampo, Japan’s celebrated pioneer of erotic grotesque literature. The film begins when Medical student Hirosuke Hitomi sneaks out of the asylum where he has been wrongfully confined. He assumes the identity of a recently deceased nobleman with whom he bears a strong resemblance. Hirosuke even manages to gain entrance into the nobleman’s household and his marital bed. But as long-repressed memories open up, he finds himself drawn to a remote isle where he is confronted by a mad scientist and his malformed men. It is there that he discovers the key that will unlock long-suppressed mysteries of his own.

The film unites mystery and horror while it incorporates ideas motifs from Rampo’s tales. Visually, the film is filled with carnivalesque art design and the performances of the cast are haunting. The movie was pulled back from cinemas by its own studio after its original release nearly fifty years ago yet remains among the very best screen interpretations of the author s macabre brand of horror-fantasy fiction.

I am afraid that, like myself, many viewers may feel “lost in translation”. I enjoyed it, and I am glad that I finally get to see this film, however I found myself becoming impatient with it and/or just not relating to what it has to say. The film is both highly disciplined and extremely excessive. In the plot we assumed identities, doppelgangers, family secrets, murder, revenge, unrequited love, adultery, kidnapping, incest, bestiality, dismemberment, torture, cannibalism , characters deformed through radical surgery, and almost every other known perversion.

The film’s ‘mad doctor,’ Jogoro Komoda (Tatsumi Hijikata kidnaps and deforms innocent men and women so as to surround himself with literal reflections his own emotional scars and psychosis. The first half of the film is a conservatively produced drama concerned with the mysteries of identity and memory. When Hirosuke and his entourage set foot on the island, “Horrors of Malformed Men” becomes surreal and it builds momentum.“Horrors of Malformed Men” is an important but disturbing work of fantastic art in the centuries-long tradition of the visionary and the grotesque

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS include:

Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original negative

High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation

Original uncompressed mono 1.0 PCM audio

Newly translated, optional English subtitles

Two audio commentaries by Japanese cinema experts Tom Mes and Mark Schilling

Malformed Movies: a new video interview with Toei exploitation movie screenwriter Masahiro Kakefuda

Malformed Memories: Filmmakers Shinya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo the Iron Man) and Minoru Kawasaki (The Calamari Wrestler) on the career of director Teruo Ishii

Image Gallery

Theatrical trailer

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dan Mumford

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Jasper Sharp, Tom Mes and Grady Hendrix

“The Washington Decree: A Novel” by Jussi Adler-Olsen— America in Chaos

Adler-Olsen, Jussi. “The Washington Decree: A Novel”, translated by Steve Schein, Dutton, 2018.

America in Chaos

Amos Lassen

Five very different people came together some sixteen years before Democratic Senator Bruce Jansen was elected president of the United States. This was due to a stunt in public relations. They are fourteen-year-old Dorothy “Doggie” Rogers, small-town sheriff T. Perkins, single mother Rosalie Lee, well-known journalist John Bugatti, and the teenage son of one of Jansen’s employees, Wesley Barefoot. They were all different and were held together by both their devotion to Jansen and shared experiences.

Doggie saw Jansen’s election as a personal victory for which she would be rewarded with a job in the White House. She wanted to prove to her Republican father that she was right to support Jansen who is an intelligent, clear-headed leader with her same ideals. However, the presidential triumph is short-lived. Jansen’s pregnant wife is assassinated on election night, and the alleged perpetrator is none other than Doggie’s father.

Jansen comes to the White House as a changed man and determined to end gun violence. Rights are taken away as quickly as weapons and international travel becomes impossible. Checkpoints and roadblocks destroy infrastructure of the country and the media is censored. Militias declare civil war on the government and America is in chaos. Jansen’s former friends each find themselves fighting a very different battle, for themselves, their rights, and their country. Doggie’s fights for the life of her father, who just may be innocent.

This is a thought-provoking and timely political thriller that leaves us thinking. Here is psychological suspense combined with humor and sensitive rapport between the characters. The story was inspired by actual events during a dark period of Danish history and reads like a parable of honest individuals who become caught up in corruption.

Adler-Olsen is most well known for his Nordic Noir, Department Q series and he is thought of as a writer who gives depth to all of his characters and we really see that here. We meet the main characters several years before the actual story begins and it is through this that we begin to understand their personalities and how closely they are tied to one another. When the actual tale begins to unfold, this background becomes the way to understand the end. You will understand that when you read the book.

When Jansen is overwhelmed with grief due to the shooting of his wife and not-yet born child, he initiates a series of executive decisions that will alter the foundation of America’s political, economic and constitutional foundations. The result is chaos panic and outrage that worsens each day he is in office. Indeed the story reflects today’s current events very closely but it was actually written in 2006 about a Democrat and not a Republican president. It is an eerily familiar story. We must remember that there is what we know as the right to executive decision and it has long been part of the US Presidential powers but never used to the extent that it has been under Presidents Obama and Trump. This is the real premise to the book. We must all remember that

not American yet he has written an incredible thriller about this country. Bruce Jansen, the American president here implements policies that include gun confiscation and deportation of illegal immigrants that throws the country into a state of chaos. But Jansen is only one of the characters, as the story is told from the perspective of regular people who somehow become involved in his campaign and presidency. I do not want to say any more about the plot except to tell you to be prepared for a very powerful and thrilling read.

“The Diaries of Emilio Renzi: The Happy Years” by Ricardo Piglia and translated by Robert Croll— The Second Volume

Piglia, Ricardo. “The Diaries of Emilio Renzi: The Happy Years”, translated by Robert Croll, Restless Books, 2018.

 The Second Volume

Amos Lassen

It has been about a year since I reviewed the first volume of Ricardo Piglia’s “The Diaries of Emilio Renzi” and I have been waiting for the second volume to be published. It focuses on Piglia’s alter ego (Renzi) as his literary career is beginning and covers the years from 1968 until 1975. During this time, he ran a magazine and worked as a publisher. He met with some of the literary elite including Borges, Puig, Roa Bastos, Piñera and he soon joined them as one of the important Latin America writers.

Piglia tells us that in order to really know what literature really is, one must write and he did. He showed us what it written word and all that it represents. He takes us into what I call the “literary ghetto” and introduces us to the brilliance there while at the same time, Argentina was dealing with Peron and the military coup. We see Piglia as he shifts from not knowing who he is to becoming a prominent voice in the Spanish-speaking world and a literary genius.

Piglia received many prizes for his work and is universally acclaimed as a transformative writer. His monumental work is this projected three volume fictional journal that is a celebration of literature. He was determined to become one of the literati and he succeeded in ways he had not considered. Many consider him to be the heir to Borges and the best writer since Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He writes in the grand tradition of Kafka, Woolf and his contemporary Philip Roth whose Nathan Zuckerman appears to be something of a model for Emilio Renzi. Piglia takes us into his mind through his writings and he blesses us with glorious prose wonderfully translated by Robert Croll. There is a great deal here in the tradition of the greats of world literature but I am not about to spoil a wonderful read by writing about them now. I want you to have that pleasure.

“The Commentators’ Bible: Genesis: The Rubin JPS Miqra’ot Gedolot” edited by Michael Carasik— In The Beginning

Carasik, Michael (editor). “The Commentators’ Bible: Genesis: The Rubin JPS Miqra’ot Gedolot”, Jewish Publication Society, 2018. 2018

In the Beginning

Amos Lassen

I absolutely love this series of Bible commentaries and now have all of them except Exodus and I am saving my money for that one. These commentaries known as Miqra’ot Gedolot have inspired and educated generations of Hebrew readers and in my case, reawakened my personal desire to intensely study the Five Books of Moses. I study everyday for an hour and now that I have this volume, it will be that much easier to do so because all the traditional commentaries are in one volume and in English. This was the final volume of the acclaimed JPS English edition of Miqra’ot Gedolot that includes the commentaries of the greats—-Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Nachmanides, Rashbam, Abarbanel, Kimhi, and others and their words come alive and give us a chance to compare and contrast commentaries. I had a good look through Genesis last night before I shelved the book for now because I want to use it as we move through the Torah. In just another couple of weeks, we will start reading the Torah all over again. The beauty of this commentary is that medieval Bible commentators come alive in a contemporary English translation annotated for lay readers.

Each page in The Commentators’ Bible: Genesis: The Rubin JPS Miqra’ot Gedolot contains from one to several verses from the book of Genesis, surrounded by both the 1917 and the 1985 JPS translations and by new contemporary English translations of the major commentators. Also included is a glossary of terms, a list of names used in the text, notes on source texts, a special topics list, and resources for further study. This is in large-format volume and is designed for easy navigation among the many elements on each page, including explanatory notes and selected additional comments from the works of Bekhor Shor, Sforno, Gersonides, and Hizkuni, among others.

I have found the “The JPS Commentators’ Bible” to be the most looked at book in my library and it is one of the most useful resources I have ever owned. I no longer have to run to the library to see if they have the commentary that I want to use, the one that “”opens the door to the wisdom of the classic commentators to Jewish students of all levels of Hebrew fluency. The translations are uniformly fluid and accessible, and this a wonderful invitation to join the traditional Torah commentary and interpretation. Each page is “set up as a conversation among the commentators, in which the reader is encouraged to join.”

“Amnesia Nights” by Quentin Skinner— Insecurities and Fears

Skinner, Quinton. “Amnesia Nights”, Fentum Press, 2018.

Insecurities and Fears

Amos Lassen

It has been good for John Wright lately. He has been having strange sightings and he cannot seem to control his memory. He has a girlfriend named Iris who he has not seen in three years because of a falling out and he is not sure if she is dead or alive or whether he killed her. He had simply bolted from their apartment and since that night he has been living off money that he stole from Iris’s father. He has just been waiting for the police to find him and charge him as a murderer but he is not sure that he is. In fact, John is not sure of anything.

We learn that Iris was the only happiness John had in his life. When they went to college together, John became her special project and she worked hard to help him move from being a nerdy, shy introvert into a debonair and elegant man who was sure of himself.. Now that Iris is no longer around, John is bombarded with memories that are unfortunately loaded with guilt and uncertainty.

Then one day, Iris returns… or does she? Is this really Iris or simply an extension of John’s troubled mind? It will take a great deal of thought and introspection to answer this question and we find ourselves embarking on John’s journey with him. John is driven by a blood stained club in his possession along with $400,000 cash. (Have you been pulled in yet?—- I was so pulled in by a description that I read that I read the entire book in one sitting).

This is a mystery with a psychological bend and there is a lot more here than meets the naked eye. Because of that I cannot say anymore about the plot except that it is character driven. While I would not be able to classify “Amnesia Nights” as literature, I can classify it as a terrific read that is filled with great characters. Sometimes psychological suspense is just what some want out of life and if that is you, you want to get a copy ASAP. Beware and understand that you become part of the mystery yourself here.

“WILD” (“SAUVAGE”)— A Young Man’s Quest For love

“WILD” (“Sauvage”)

A Young Man’s Quest for Love

Amos Lassen

“Wild” looks at about a gay male sex worker who is looking for love. Director Camille Vidal-Naquet brings us a sensual ode to freedom. The lead character is unnamed and is played by Felix Maritaud The film has many sequences showing him engaged in sexual acts of all kinds with his clients including caresses, fellatio, penetration and experiments with sex toys but the film “neither demonizes sex as perverted or mindless, nor eulogizes it as the pinnacle of pleasure.”

The opening sequence takes a very surprising turn that beautifully sets up the film’s playful explicitness that is never gratuitous. Because our main character’s work is presented as a regular part of his life, “Wild” normalizes not just gay sex, but also sex work, yet it does not gloss over the problems it can lead to nor discount the wonderful connections it can bring.

The film’s realist style, with a handheld camera and crash zooms, underlines the material reality of the hustler’s situation, but he isn’t looking for work or money, it is love he’s after. He is a painfully romantic man who saves his kisses for the men he loves. We soon see that he loves many men. The affection of strangers does not and cannot satisfy the young man. No matter how hard he might try to forget, there is another sex worker (also unnamed) who has his heart. “Wild” shows us complex representations of love (from connections with sexual partners to intense romantic passion and uses frank portrayals of sex work and gay sexuality.

Increasingly consumed by his passion, our young sex worker begins sleeping rough, and develops a worrying case of pneumonia. In its third act, the film turns into an unflinching portrait of homelessness, its title suddenly taking on another, less poetic meaning. This ambitious film carefully addresses all the ramifications of its lead character’s life with an energy that avoids cliché and instead is “a work of rare vitality.”

When the film opened at the Cannes Film Festival, it was described as “having the sensibility of the Marquis de Sade and filmmaker Maurice Pialat, presumably for its documentary-like naturalism.” Vidal-Naquet introduces us to the hand-to-mouth life of a male sex worker, 22-year-old. The film realistically acts out the tricks of the trade while the young hustler remains an idea, a blank slate without his own strength to deal with brutal and degrading encounters. His trajectory is rigid and his fatalism tone feels preordained; we know from the very beginning that he will not have a happy ending. We learn little about him and he appears scruffy with a slight, muscular built. He “works” in Strasbourg in a park with little traffic and he is right alongside a diverse group of young streetwalkers, waiting…. As the camera zooms in on conversations and potential pickups, we, the viewers, become complicit as voyeurs as many scenes come close to documentary-porn.

Early on, he is paid to participate in a three-way involving a john in a wheelchair and Ahd (Éric Bernard), who, though he has sex with men and is willing to be taken care of by a sugar daddy, insists that he is not gay. His story line reinforces at least two stereotypes: that of gay-for-pay homophobic rough trade and the gay man, our hustler, who hopelessly longs for him. Even the other hustlers notice the look on the young man’s face when he glances upon Ahd but Ahd rejects him not through his words but with his fists.

The director has created intense, incredibly intimate sex scenes, yet the characters remain one-dimensional and this affects the realism of the film. I understand that people were so upset bout the graphic sex scenes that many walked out and listed this powerful film.

As portrayed here, the hustlers’ world is sealed off, as though they are living in a vacuum. Hardly anyone has a phone, and our boy only has one set of clothes. One of his tricks calls him filthy and smelly and he is— his jeans are coated in mud, his sweater has stains, and he has a bloodied lip. For someone who has been living on the streets for some time, he does not have street smarts and finds himself in situations where he has no voice. His only motivation seems to be getting high on hash or crack cocaine, and he never expresses a concern about money or what he has to do to earn it. There is a strong focus on the young man’s childlike qualities and one of those, of course, is the need for love. He leads such a dejected life that we even see him drinking water in a street gutter.

Maritaud holds our attention even when we do not understand what is going on and it’s not just because he’s an actor acting out private behavior in public. He gives the film the soul that we sense throughout.

“BENT”— A Corrupt Cop

“Bent”

A Corrupt Cop

Amos Lassen

I am always amazed how short films are able to do so much in a short amount of time. Chris Esper’s “Bent” is the story of a corrupt cop, Brenda Hoggins (Audrey Noone) who with who her partner, robs and kills a drug dealer. There is a lot going on in this film about bad cops that begins with Brenda and her partner robbing and killing a drug dealer. An Internal Affairs cop is not at all happy with this (who would be?) and goes after Brenda to pressure her to roll over on her partner.

The film looks at guilt and corruption as the viewer is taken into a world that should not be; the world of bad cops. Brenda is the focus and we see what real evil is and we see how it affects the human psyche. This is not a story we’ve seen before.

Earl Duke (Kris Salvi) is the IA cop and we see him lose it in the scene when he interrogates Brenda. I found it difficult to understand his excessive anger and perhaps that is because we know nothing abut him. I wish we had been given a back-story or that his character had been more developed.

Opposite him is a brilliant performance by Noone as Brenda. She carries the film and really walks away with it. Perhaps all of this film would have made more sense as a full-length drama. I am not saying that it does not makes sense as a short but it is easy to see how it could be developed into a feature film. Indeed, we see what brings someone to flip on his/her partner (something we are seeing on the presidential level right before our eyes right now in this country). “Bent” is a fascinating look at the world of cops that we do not usually get and that for that alone, it is worth seeing.

“OPERATION FINALE”— Another Look at Eichmann

“Operation Finale”

Another Look at Eichmann

Amos Lassen

As I was sitting here preparing my new lecture on Hannah Arendt, I received an email telling me about the new film Eichmann film, “Operation Finale”. What struck me is that this is the second time in five years that while preparing to teach about Arendt, a film is released in which her presence is felt. The first, of course, is the wonderful biography directed by Magarethe von Trotta and starring the amazing Barbara Sukowa and now this. Surprisingly, these films do not make my job easier since they give me added resources. While the names Arendt and Eichmann come together often in the same breath when looking at either personage, this new film is all Eichmann. I must say that “Operation Finale” is a brilliant piece of filmmaking and I would love to know what Arendt would say about it.

“Operation Finale” is the story of Peter Malkin and his role in capturing, guarding, and transporting the man who orchestrated the Final Solution to Jerusalem and it is a thrilling adventure even knowing how it ends.

Director Chris Weitz pushed all the right buttons to give us a tense psychological drama that rarely vacates the room where Malkin and Eichmann spent nine days in a battle of wits. He has chosen a wonderful cast to tell his story. Oscar Isaac is Malkin, a man whose courage overrides. Lior Raz is the Mossad’s chief, Isser Harel; Mélanie Laurent is Hanna, a guilt-ridden doctor who cannot help but wonder if the Hippocratic oath covers the forced sedation of a Nazi war criminal. Nick Kroll is Rafi Eitan, the operation’s straight man whose covers injury and pain with jokes. Almost all of the agents that were sent to Argentina to capture Eichmann had lost loved ones because of him and nearly all have, at one time or another, to go into his room and end his life.

Weitz lets them all simmer together. Inside the safe house, dinners lead to tense confrontations as the team, like the audience, struggles to deal with the man they must guard and have tied to the bed in his underwear and who shows no remorse about what he did. There is no banality of evil here. Sir Ben Kingsley’s Eichmann is imperious, menacing, and vulnerable at the same time and even “when sitting on the toilet, surrounded by Mossad agents and delivering a monologue about defecation. Klaus (Joe Alwyn), Eichmann’s son reminds us that his father had done no wrong and that the pain that he feels as a son for a missing father is very real

“Operation Finale” is a dance between captor and captive, and Isaac and Kingsley shine as two men who understand that they’ve no choice but to allow the other his humanity. To convince Eichmann to sign the papers needed to get him on the flight to Tel Aviv, requires his consent. To get this, Malkin has to allow his prisoner a shot at dignity, be that a smoke and a shave or real emotional intimacy. Eichmann, in turn, tries to find favor with Malkin by asking him about his sister Fruma who had been executed in a forest by the machine Eichmann had helped design. Eichmann begs for news of his own family and lets out a blood-curdling scream when he realizes that no harm has come to his wife and his sons. Eichmann manipulates empathy as he struggles to convince Malkin that he’s capable of feeling his pain. But he may not be: in flashback we see him as a manipulative ogre wearing eyeliner, an SS uniform, and an overcoat as he stands “haughtily above pits stacked with bodies, like a ghoulish rock star on a stage looking down at his fans”. This is the picture that stays with us. As the two men try to figure each other out, so do we, making this a film filled with suspense even for those who have read all there is to read about Eichmann’s trial and execution.

This is both a cinematic and emotional achievement. Weitz allows us to entertain Eichmann’s reasoning as well as Malkin’s, and he trusts us to find our own way out after having spent time listening to a personable and very convincing Nazi. This film is a study in unruly “and the extremes we sometimes go to when we strive for or run away from our just deserts.”

Hannah Arendt said that the longer one listened to Eichmann, the more obvious it became that he did not have the ability to speak or to think from someone else’s point of view. He could not be communicated with and this was not because he was a liar but because he “was surrounded by the most reliable of all safeguards against the words and the presence of others, and hence against reality as such.” Weitz sees Eichmann differently and his Eichmann is demonic because he knows exactly how to think from the standpoint of his interrogator, and knows, too, how to use this skill as a weapon. He sees no reason to empathize other than to gain an upper hand and this makes him all the more human and all the more terrifying. He and others like him can cause death and misery even though they are capable of not doing so. There are men like this everywhere.

To combat this kind of wickedness is to put no burden on our emotions and to be free to explore our own emotional reflexes. “Operation Finale” lets us do just that.