Combustible Celluloid
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With: George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Tobey Maguire, Beau Bridges, Ravil Issyanov, Christian Oliver, Leland Orser
Written by: Paul Attanasio, based on a novel by Joseph Kanon
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
MPAA Rating: R for language, violence and some sexual content
Running Time: 105
Date: 11/12/2006

The Good German (2006)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

I'm hard pressed to think of two more different films than Steven Soderbergh's Bubble and The Good German, released at the far opposite ends of 2006. The shot-on-video Bubble seemed to push the edges of the future of cinema with its astonishing deep-focus cinematography, its impressive working-class settings and its captivating characters (played by amateur actors). Whereas The Good German gets its inspiration entirely from the past, presented in luminous black-and-white film, set in post-World War II Berlin and featuring good old-fashioned movie stars. Soderbergh deliberately wishes to invoke Casablanca (1942) and The Third Man (1949) at least, with subtler nods to Open City (1945) and other postwar classics that capture the ruin and desperation of many European cities. (Even the film's poster is designed to mimic Casablanca.) But the problem is that these references are only technicalities to him. Moreover, he doesn't quite understand the mechanics of this earlier brand of storytelling. The Good German is a mechanical movie, pushing forth in a way it believes appropriate rather than finding a natural flow. And in this, the actors get lost. (Please read my full-length review at

DVD Details: The DVD from Warner Home Video has no real extras. There are several audio options and optional subtitles, plus trailers for Infamous, Letters from Iwo Jima, Ocean's Thirteen and The Painted Veil, at startup. The Good German

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