The Good German
The Good German is populated by character-types anyone who's seen a 1940s Hollywood movie will recognize: the noble, weary hero (George Clooney); the woman-with-a-secret (Cate Blanchett); the corrupt official (Beau Bridges). To further this nostalgic feel, director Steven Soderbergh (Ocean's Eleven) filmed the movie in black-and- white and tried to light, shoot and edit it using the period's standard techniques. The film's based on a novel by Joseph Kanon. Our hero is Jake, a journalist who returns to Berlin as WWII enters its final throes. It's two months after Germany's surrender, and Jake's in town to cover the Potsdam Conference, a discussion of post-war policy between Russia, Britain and the US. Inevitably, Jake meets up with former lover Lena (Blanchett), whose current lover Tully (Tobey Maguire) turns up dead. It's possible the Russians or the Americans (or both) are involved. The Good German is a neat homage to films gone by, and so it's fun to watch—and if you're going to stuff any current actor into the shoes of a Humphrey Bogart-style hero, Clooney's your man. But the movie doesn't bring much new to the table. Soderbergh calls to mind classics like The Third Man and Casablanca. But he fails to answer one important question: why not just watch those instead?