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Movie Review: The Good German

Alternate Title: The Faux Film

Story: Director Steven Soderbergh should be applauded for his continued efforts in experimental film. However, not all experiments go well and this attempt to recall, perhaps as homage, the films of the 1940's, does not make the grade. Soderbergh stayed in sound stages, never went on location and used camera equipment that would have been used in the 40's. Yada, yada, yada - but what happened to the soul of the film? It got lost in all of the style and efforts to be true to the period. The characters are one dimensional and we end up not caring a bit for anyone. I actually laughed at many points in the movie. I am sure that was not the intended response.

With a screenplay by Paul Attanasio, based on the novel by Joseph Kanon, we find ourselves in Berlin in 1945, right before the Potsdam conference. Our hero, a reporter for The New Republic, goes to Germany to cover this world event and, as it happens, to look up an old girlfriend. We meet spies, counterspies, Russian bad guys, a GI Joe who is rotten to the core, corrupt Government lawyers, bad Generals, etc, etc, etc. There are too many characters with no development.

The essence of the film should have been about what happens to war criminals and is there any excuse for rationalizations for their futures? What is a war crime and who gets punished? These important questions are overlooked in all of the stylistic recall of the period.

Save your money and rent Casablanca.

Acting: George Clooney's looks and persona are too representative of our current day to play this handsome, naive, war reporter. I did enjoy all of the fights he got into (and lost).Cate Blanchett, was a cardboard character who was never allowed to release her talent. Too bad. Tobey Maguire was creepy as the rotten GI. He reminded me of that character he played in Sin City.

Predilection: I like Stephen Soderbergh.

Critters: I can't remember.

Soundtrack: The soundtrack was true to the emotion pulling time period.

Weather: The weather was good in the spring of 1945 in Berlin

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: WW11 makes me squirm

Drift Factor: I started to look at my watch after only 20 minutes. A very bad sign in a short film.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: NO

Big Screen or Rental: Neither. However, for some of Stephen Soderbergh's other work, try renting: Ocean's Twelve, Solaris, Ocean's Eleven, Traffic, Erin Brockovich, The Limey, Out of Sight, King of the Hill and what started it all, Sex, Lies, and Videotape.

Length: 90 long minutes