Weekly News via Email
   Set as homepage | Add to favorites | Customer Service | Subscribe Now | Place an Ad | Contact Us | Sitemap Tuesday, 05.22.2018
News Archive
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
 1  2  3  4  5  6
 7  8  9  10  11  12  13
 14  15  16  17  18  19  20
 21  22  23  24  25  26  27
 28  29  30  31
Online Extras
Site Services
Around Bend
Outdoor Fun
Travel Info
Shop Local

Members Of

Poll: Today's Live Poll
Email to a friend | Print this | PDF version | Comments (0 posted) 
  Blogger |   del.icio.us |   digg |   newsvine

Jan 26,2007
The Screen Savor: ‘Das Bad Berliner’
by Kimberly Gadette

Movie Review of "THE GOOD GERMAN"

One would think that between the stellar talents of director Steven Soderbergh ("Traffic," "Erin Brockovich," "Sex, Lies and Videotape") screenwriter Paul Attanasio ("Sum of All Fears," "Donnie Brasco," "Quiz Show") and three of the most winning actors on screen today (Clooney, Blanchett and Maguire), "The Good German" would be, at the very least, "good." Even great. But like five-day old sauerbrauten, it is surprisingly unpalatable.

The impossibly overly-complicated, undernourished plot consists of an American war correspondent named Jake (Clooney) returning to Berlin in post-war 1945, running into his mysterious ex-lover Lena (Blanchett). With a story line that is fuzzier than the archival footage, there's red-herring intrigue over her still living? still dead? husband, a rocket, black market greed and some papers (there's always papers!)

Though he never opens a notepad or files a story, war correspondent Jake is a secondhand version of "Chinatown"'s Jake, always showing up in the right place at the wrong time, and always a step or two behind shadowy bad guys' misdeeds. Though he's no detective, how he manages to successfully tail every character in the picture having five lines or more is just as mysterious as the fact that for the first time, ever, Clooney has wholly misplaced his on-screen charisma.

Cate Blanchett's Lena also suffers. That's it … she just suffers. Though her suffering is replete with glorious cheekbones (made more magnificent due to the black-and-white photography) and a Dietrich-ian accent, without her bursting into a rendition of "Falling In Love Again," she also comes up sorely lacking in personality and energy.

The only spark to this goulash comes from Tobey Maguire as Jake's driver, a whiz-bang kid on the outside, hiding a vicious money-grubbing demon not too far below the surface. Thirty tedious minutes into the film, the first actual plot point emanates from his mysterious murder. Though I was momentarily energized, hopeful that a real story might emerge, I would have gladly traded this cruel plot tease for more Tobey.

Director Soderbergh has some interesting ideas that get lost in the execution. For example, each of the three main characters is allotted one single voiceover. With their external personas largely unexamined, more inner monologues might have been a revealing conduit into character. And though it was a treat to see the integration of actual footage from '40s Berlin, it turned out to be more of a demonstration of technical ability rather than a means for adding some much-needed substance to the film.

Unexplained plot ambiguities literally litter the screen. Though Lena is possibly the most wanted woman in Berlin, she wanders around on foot and on cycle, tra-la-la, tra-la-la, without so much as a backwards glance. Hiding out for the umpteenth time, she fearfully approaches what looks to be danger. Horrors! It's a cigarette left burning in a theater—but who was there? What did they want? Might they come back to snuff her out, unlike the aforementioned cigarette? Oh well … fade to the next scene. In one of Jake's many unsuccessful scuffles, a shoe is left behind. The camera closes in for a dramatic closeup. Whose shoe? Does anyone subsequently develop an unexplained limp? Is it a pricey shoe and might it fit my husband? And finally, at the long-awaited last act, for what earthly reason does Soderbergh & Co. feel moved to re-enact the ending to "Casablanca"? If the film doesn't work in its first 100 minutes, paying homage to a classic in the final scene isn't going to turn a schwein's ear into a silk purse.

Lena's hubby Emil wearily states near the end, "Why does it have to be so complicated?" Ja, Emil, Ja.

Grading this movie on the curve of the Deschutes River: D-plus

Click here to view the movie trailer of “The Good German”.

Kimberly Gadette can be reached at gadettek@yahoo.com

Production Credits:  "THE GOOD GERMAN" 
Directed by:  Steven Soderbergh 
Screenplay by:  Paul Attanasio 
Based on the novel by:  Joseph Kanon 
Cast:  George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Tobey Maguire, Beau Bridges 
Rated:  R 
Running Time:  105 minutes 
Grade:  D-plus 

Read more of Kimberly Gadette’s Screen Savor movie reviews:

Stomp The Yard


The Pursuit Of Happyness

Alpha Dog

See the full list of “Screen Savor” reviews. 

1687 times read

Related news
The Screen Savor: ‘Das Bad Berliner’ by Kimberly_Gadette posted on Jan 26,2007

The Screen Savor: ‘Smother and Child’ by Kimberly_Gadette posted on Feb 02,2007

The Screen Savor: ‘Smother and Child’ by Kimberly_Gadette posted on Feb 02,2007

The Screen Savor: ‘Adultery in a Minor Key’ by Kimberly_Gadette posted on Dec 29,2006

The Screen Savor: ‘Valley Boys’ by Kimberly_Gadette posted on Jan 12,2007

Did you enjoy this article? Rating: 5.00Rating: 5.00Rating: 5.00Rating: 5.00Rating: 5.00 (total 30 votes)

Market Information
Breaking News
Most Popular
Most Commented
Featured Columnist
Horoscope Guide
Aquarius Aquarius Libra Libra
Aries Aries Pisces Pisces
Cancer Cancer Sagittarius Sagittarius
Capricorn Capricorn Scorpio Scorpio
Gemini Gemini Taurus Taurus
Leo Leo Virgo Virgo
Local Attractions
Bend Visitors & Convention Bureau
Bend Visitors & Convention Bureau

Mt. Bachelor Resort
Mt. Bachelor Resort

Les Schwab Ampitheater
Les Schwab Ampitheater

Deschutes County Fairgrounds
Deschutes County

Tower Theatre
Tower Theatre

The High Desert Museum


Deschutes County

  Web    BendWeekly.com
© 2006 Bend Weekly News
A .Com Endeavors, Inc. Company.
All Rights Reserved. Terms under
which this service is provided to you.
Please read our Privacy Policy. Contact us.
Bend Weekly News & Event Guide Online
   Save the Net
External sites open in new window,
not endorsed by BendWeekly.com
Subscribe in NewsGator Online
Add to Google Add to MSN Add to My AOL
What are RSS headlines?