The Good German

When we said ‘It’s a pity they don’t make them like they use to’, someone should’ve informed George Clooney that we didn’t mean they had to start using black and white film stock, talk robotically, and make do with a single camera again


George Clooney, Tobey Maguire, Cate Blanchett, Jack Thompson, Beau Bridges

When we said ‘It’s a pity they don’t make them like they use to’, someone should’ve informed George Clooney that we didn’t mean they had to start using black and white film stock, talk robotically, and make do with a single camera again. What we were talking about, of course, was the lack of good stories, good performances and movies that put character before computer, story before special effects, and titillation before tits. Not a movie that looks like it comes out of pre-cassette Hollywood.

On the other hand, it’s admirable seeing filmmakers that can think on their own, do something different, and not take any notice of their manager – even when they’re chasing you down Sunset yelling ‘No George! No! Don’t do it!’

But should actor/producer Clooney have listened? In some respects, yes. This is one of those films that will undoubtedly make Clooney and director Steven Soderbergh feel very, very proud – pleased with their impudent triumph – but will likely leave others, though impressed with their boldness, scratching their heads and asking “Why? Too much B/W stock left after Goodnight and Goodluck?”

From the no-frills opening credits to the uncolorised film stock used, “German” wants you to believe it’s one of those films straight out of classic 1940s Hollywood.

Clooney (looking – because of the film stock – more Clark Gable than ever) plays a U.S army correspondent, who helps his former flame (Cate Blanchett), search for her missing husband, who is wanted by U.S and Russian forces. Shadowing their efforts is the correspondent’s driver (Tobey Maguire), a GI with connections to the black market – and someone who’s not quite sure where his loyalties should lie.

Warner’s prize steed has truly outdone himself with the film – it looks a marvel. He has definitely recaptured the look and feel of the old classic B/W movies (largely “Casablanca”). It looks a treat. And if it weren’t for the language and sex scenes – he could’ve done without both, and it would’ve worked just as well, if not better – you’d believe it were straight out of the golden era of Hollywood.

There’s just one thing: There’s no flippin’ script – it’s supposed to be based on a book by Joseph Kanon?; what part? – or if there is, someone’s neglected to bring it to set. This thing is dead dull. They’ve spent so much time on making the thing looks great – but they’ve forgotten to back it up with an interesting storyline. Very un-Clooney like.

Films back then had great stories… so if anything, this idea should’ve started with that – heck, all good movies should start with a good story, right? If the visually stunning and storyline-solid “Sin City” could find that perfect balance, why couldn’t two – four, if you can’t Maguire and Blanchett; though they’re merely actors that doing what they’re told – of Hollywood’s best, find it for this? They’ve really injured the film because of that missing element.

“Good German”? Nah, not quite.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris