4 p.m., Dec. 11
A surprise departure from Margarethe von Trotta, Germany’s answer to Ingmar Bergman. This softball biopic, filmed in the manner of a stiff '60s melodrama, chronicles a crucial point in the life of the famed German-Jewish philosopher. It also pays homage to her mentor, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and his cinematic skipper, Douglas Sirk. We follow Arendt, played with ease and elegance by Barbara Sukowa, as she takes a trip back to “dark times,” returning to Jerusalem to cover the trial of Adolf Eichmann for the New York Times. Perhaps the film takes on its somewhat lighter tone because, unlike the real-life characters whose stories the director has chronicled in the past (Rosa Luxemburg, Gudrun Ensslin), Arendt didn’t sacrifice her life for a cause. The New Yorker’s Richard Brody has already called out von Trotta for her trivial deployment of actual trial footage, and its conspicuous incorporation into the finished product is almost equally culpable. 2012.
— Scott Marks