Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Good German, and some bad Americans and Russians

It being the holidays it seems appropriate to take a break from ripping the Conservatives for a bit (although they’re still really horrible and all that) and talk about other things. Like movies.

Before I caught the train Saturday morning to spend a (painfully green) Christmas with the grandparents, aunts, uncles and assorted others in Fort Erie I went to see The Good German, the latest George Clooney black and white vanity project.


Besides Clooney the movie also includes Tobey McGuire and the always lovely Cate Blanchett, and was directed by Steve Soderbergh. The movie is set in post-WW2 Berlin, during the Potsdam Conference. Clooney is a war correspondent, McGuire his driver and Blanchett is an old Clooney flame and McGuire’s current girlfriend. Needless to say that causes some troubles, as the story plays out in a ruined Berlin around espionage and intrigue as the battle lines of the Cold War begin to film.


Cinematically it’s a very interesting, attractive movie. Shot in black and white, as I mentioned, but also in very much a 1930s/40s style of filmmaking. Many of the cuts and shots, the music and sound effects, and even some of the dialogue are reminiscent of that era. There’s one scene near the end where the Casablanca-like imagery is unmistakable.


I’m still somewhat undecided about the movie. I liked it, but I wouldn’t say it was fantastic. I enjoyed the setting and the intrigue, but beneath it, it’s really a murder/love triangle-type story with the other political stuff seeming secondary/tacked-on. It’ doesn’t have the higher meaning of a Good Night and Good Luck, for example.


The plot isn’t really explained super-well as you go along, you need to pay fairly close attention, and some knowledge of history to add context is helpful too. The writing is also rather hackneyed at times. Maybe they were going for a 30s/40s style there too, but it didn’t work for me.


Overall, though, if you’re a fan of the period it’s worth seeing when its in wider release in the new year. I’ll give it *** ½ out of 5.

P.S. Speaking of movies, Red Tory has an interesting piece on the reinterpretation of some Capra classics.

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2 comments:

sheilabee said...

recently finished the book "The good German" by Joseph Kanon. I did not know a movie had been made at the time. The book was wonderful, so descriptive of Berlin post '45. It was mystery, intrique, the Potsdam Conference as to how the U.S. UK and Russia were there to divide the spoils of War, ie.Germany. I like the writing...I could see how Berlin looked at that time. And the necessity of the U.S. and Britain to capture as many German Scientists as possible because they could foresee the problems with Russia...they had to gain the expertise of rocket making, etc, before the Russians. I loved the book, hope I will find the movie as satisfying.

Anonymous said...

"It being the holidays it seems appropriate to take a break from ripping the Conservatives for a bit (although they’re still really horrible and all that) and talk about other things. Like movies."

So I'm just wondering if you will spend some of your Christmas holidays tihnking up schemes (like Adscam and probably the CWB) to try and STEAL money from the public to funnel into the Liberal Party. Its not like you haven't done that before.After all, you ARE Liberals.

Horny Toad