Monday, January 08, 2007

The Good German

Director Steven Soderburgh newest film staring George Clooney and Cate Blanchett is an interesting experiment in filmmaking. Shot in black & white using old style cameras and cinematography, Soderburgh strives to recreate a 1940's melodrama. For the most part he succeeds but whether or not today's audience will embrace a film like this remains to be seen.

The story takes place in Berlin just at the end of the war. Clooney is a war correspondent who comes to the city to cover the peace talks and instead finds himself caught up in the murder of a G.I. and helping his old girlfriend, played by Blanchett, get safely out of Germany. The film also stars Toby Maguire and Robin Weigert (Calamity Jane from HBO's Deadwood).

The closing moments of the film deliberately mirror Casablanca's ending. Clooney channels Humphrey Bogart and Blanchett, Ingrid Bergman. The mood, lighting, score and seamless integration of stock footage all contribute to a faithful film noir of the period. The only thing that breaks the mood is the contemporary use of explicit language and one scene of a topless dancer.

"The Good German" is intriguing and well acted. Blanchett is an amazing chameleon (especially after just seeing her in "Notes From A Scandal"). Clooney is the classic stoic hero and Toby Maguire tries hard to shed his "Spiderman" image. If you're looking for something different besides sequels, remakes, and teen comedies, this "retro" drama fits the bill.

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