The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
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Though Steven Soderbergh succeeds in emulating the glossy look of 1940s noirs, The Good German ultimately ends up as a self-conscious exercise in style that forgets to develop compelling characters.
All Critics (150)
| Top Critics (46)
| Fresh (49)
| Rotten (101)
| DVD (10)
Why emphasise flaws in a film of such overall ambition and expertise?
This cast almost makes The Good German watchable. It's just that their screenwriter and director don't do them any favors.
There's a line between homage and mimicry, and Soderbergh has crossed it.
We get no heroes, not even flawed ones. Clooney, our marquee man, chases through numbing plot contortions only because of his lust for Lena. By the time The Good German ended, I had barely a clue if the good ones had lived or died.
The Good German is a movie wonk's triumph and no one else's. Soderbergh gets the visuals right but not the clean storytelling line of classic cinema, nor the iconic characters or moral certainty of the oldies.
I have to admire an ostensibly nostalgic entertainment that so concertedly undermines the romanticism of wartime Hollywood.
There's a certain distance with which you view the characters, the involvement is not such that they stay with you after the film.
An utterly gaseous film
A beautifully flawed experiment, "The Good German" is an entertaining if unbalanced war drama that places modern cinema mores on a classic style of American film when the Hayes code would never have allowed such overt sexual reality.
The Good German is the bad movie. Except for the ambience -- the look of the film -- it stumbles awkwardly on every level.
No matter that it's based on a book, the movie is more about how the reality of the time was seen through the lens of a Michael Curtiz while he was filming "Casablanca".
The final verdict on this movie is that for all its attempts to replicate the great movies of the 1940s, it fails miserably.
Soderbergh's visuals are intriguing in this WWII drama, but the story is anything but. Clooney's charisma proves not enough to make the film interesting.
Director Steven Soderbergh's homage to 1940s film noir cinema stays true to the filming methods used back in the day: the camera work, lighting, music, everything. That's a little strange at first, but you gotta admire the tenacity with which this is pulled through from the beginning to the end. As for the plot, it starts out slowly and with what seems to be a rather unlikable character. 20 minutes in a rather unexpected death gets things moving and the film gets more interesting with every minute from then on. Overall, we go through three narrators as we switch perspectives throughout the plot. The acting is great, especially Cate Blanchett seems to have emerged right from that era of cinema. There's even the Casablanca homage in the end. An interesting, even if not overwhelming experience that's pretty entertaining and well done.
In the end, on an airstrip in the rain, it became clear what Soderbergh thought he was doing: making a new Casablanca. And while the "zigzag plot" praised in the film's promotional copy shares this with the classic, no other elements are even comparable. Tobey Maguire is completely miscast, and the film suffers, I think, from a point-of-view problem. Cate Blanchett's character, Lena, is by far the most interesting, and has the most to contribute to the story... so why does the film present itself as being "about" the journalist George Clooney plays?
The film would have been much more successful had we worked from Lena's point of view. Show us first that Brandt is still allive, then watch her mislead us and the journalist until the end. If she is truly the "good German," then make her the hero.
As it is, though, this film is a stinker. The new black-and-white footage was well-yoked to the old newsreel stuff, but that's the nicest thing I can say about it. A lot more than an old-timey score is needed to create tension; primarily, emplotment. This movie just didn't have it, and as a result, Soderbergh's experiment in noir is a colossal failure, and for lack of a better word, flat-out boring.
A serviceman investigates the death of a smuggler who was having an affair with his ex-girlfriend.
The story of this film is such a classic noir that all its twists and turns are predictable, bordering on cliche, and director Steven Soderbergh is clearly paying homage to the directors of the early forties, particularly Michael Curtiz. But there's a line where homage meets cliche, and at its few good points -- usually involving a perfectly framed shot of Cate Blanchett in black and white or George Clooney's badly written but well delivered voice over -- The Good German rests on the homage side, but it lives in cliche.
The Good German experiment, which is what it seems, makes me wonder if classics are classics because they have a style that one can imitate or if they attain classic status by being perfect expressions of their times. After watching Soderbergh's attempt to cherry pick style of the two options, I have to think that classics are not inimitable, to be appreciated but not duplicated.
Overall, I found The Good German interesting only on a theoretical level, but we can talk about film theory without wasting time on this movie.
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