With MiddleEast politics & conflicts in even more flux than usual, Dror Moreh’s documentary on Shin Bet (Israel’s other secret service, the internal left hand to Mossad’s right) looks more than merely insightful, it looks essential. At its most basic, an elegantly visualized Talking Heads Essay Film told by six wise, but deadly, old owls, former heads of the agency, it succinctly intercuts surveillance footage, maps & landscapes, adding digital manipulation to allow us to follow the missions & arguments under discussion. All riveting stuff, laid out with a rare clarity, even when drifting into the shadowy morality plays of ‘Secret Ops.’ And while the POV comes from hardened anti-terrorist professionals, the descriptions of how choices were made comes across as more pragmatic than prejudicial, softened over time with unexpected reflections. Fascinating, thought-provoking, terrifying stuff, though the film could profitably lose some of the ominous, reality tv background music.
DOUBLE-BILL: Too bad Steven Spielberg & scripter Tony Kushner couldn’t have watched this as a primer before trying to get inside the heads of the Israeli Mossad agents in MUNICH/’05.