Hannah Arendt

Director: Margarethe von Trotta
Year Released: 2012
Rating: 2.5

German-Jewish philosopher Arendt (Barbara Sukowa) asks The New Yorker to send her to Jerusalem to cover the trial of Adolf Eichmann and when she returns she writes a series of controversial articles (compiled in book form as Eichmann in Jerusalem) about the man that angers a lot of people (she coined the term "banality of evil" and calls out several Jewish leaders). Coasts for half the movie, with Arendt a chain-smoking bundle of energy, scuffling from class-to-class (she was an accomplished teacher as well) and indulging in bourgeois dinner parties, but the movie really gets interesting after William Shawn (Nicholas Woodeson) prints the pieces and she is widely vilified for taking an analytical approach to such an emotionally charged matter (she tries to actually understand Eichmann ... and in performing a kind of psychological autopsy, make his heinousness more tangible: he was acting as a bureaucrat in ordering millions to die). A more modern example of Arendt's cold, calculating thinking is the intriguing case of Professor Norman Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors who has written about Israel and gotten in a lot of trouble for it. So much for freedom of speech and thought!