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The Good German


How is it possible that a movie directed by Stephen Soderbergh, starring George Clooney, Cate Blanchett and Tobey Maguire made it all the way to DVD before I ever heard of it? Well, perhaps because this one isn't for a mainstream audience.

Soderbergh, whose big-name films have included all three of Clooney's Ocean movies, probably got tired of overly-glitzy projects and returned to his love of artsy, off-beat stuff like Traffic and Solaris.

In a throwback to 1940s black and white pictures, The Good German is a lot like an updated Casablanca, and Soderbergh follows the old Hollywood rulebook by reducing the film's number of cuts, throwing away the zoom lenses and casting only folks who look like they belong at a dinner party thrown by Clark Gable. The acting is melodramatic, both reinforcing the motif and making the plot less realistic.

The story centers on post-WWII military reporter Capt. Jacob 'Jake' Geismer (Clooney) bumping into former love interest and prostitute Lena Brandt (Blanchett), then trying to unravel a fellow GI's murder and a sinister plot by opposing forces to get their hands on a potential Nazi secretary-turned-informant.

The film clearly begs for a noir label, but doesn't necessarily ever build suspense. Sure, it's difficult to guess what happens next, but that's more a product of a slow, winding plot than anything else. Fans of the genre (or those who love something a bit unique) ought to take a look, but the rest of us may have a difficult time swallowing this pill. :