The Good German
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Who knows what American journalist Jake Geismer (George Clooney) expected to find in postwar Berlin? Peace, maybe. Or at least a story. But certainly not Lena (Cate Blanchett), his beautiful, embittered one-time love. And not the trail of secrecy and deception that leads from Lena to the scheming young corporal (Tobey Maguire) who's her new lover...and to a murder no one seems interested in solving. Except Jake. Steven Soderbergh directs three of today's top talents in this zigzag thriller that's both an atmospheric homage to 1940s filmmaking and a deft modern film noir. The Good German is "haunting and hypnotic, it's pure moviegoing bliss" (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone).
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Clooney is great as a lovesick reporter hoping to find the woman he knew before the war, refusing to see how much had changed.
This is not a chick flick. It is in glorious black and white, using vintage lenses to evoke the look of 1940's films (and to work well with old footage.)
Not sure how much relatively young viewers will appreciate the book or the movie, but it is really something. Watch it along with "The Monument Men!"
Clooney delivers an excellent performance, but I was disappointed in Maguire, who seemed very out of place in the film. (Fortunately, his character doesn't stick around for very long.) However, the two shining stars of this film are Blanchett, who delivers a stunning performance in her mysterious role, and the cinematography itself, which is absolutely breathtaking. Being a huge fan of old movies, I really enjoyed this modern throwback to 1940s filmmaking. In my opinion, though, the graphic sexual content and foul language really took away from the classic aesthetic feel director Steven Soderbergh tried so desperately to recreate: it was unnecessary, and it really took away from all the other old-fashioned movie elements.
The final scene in the film is very obviously a recreation of the last scene in "Casablanca." Again, while I enjoyed the tribute, I felt that the last scene of "The Good German" severely lacked the same kind of emotion and passion that "Casablanca" has, which is a real shame. The acting was good, but I really didn't care about what happened to any of the characters, which signifies a major problem with the script.
I hope Soderbergh attempts to do another "modern film noir" movie eventually. He has the look of it down pat: now all he needs is a slightly stronger script, and we'll be back to the days of Bogart and Bergman in no time!