• Steven Soderbergh’s The Good German is steeped in pastiche. Even the marvelous poster apes Casablanca.
  • However, the sort of real life documentary footage used to open the film is just not how these studio films started in the 1940s—Soderbergh makes a lot of choices here echoing past Hollywood filmmaking in The Good German– but not all of them land cleanly.
  • The pastiche continues with the wipe edits—certainly more common in the mid-20th century than 2006. 1.66 : 1 aspect ratio is used- and Soderbergh only used studio era sound equipment. However, the language, violence, and carnal relations on display in The Good German are not in step with studio era Hollywood filmmaking. Tobey Maguire may have wanted the role of Tully here just to try to break out from that sort of nerdy, PG, man-boy typecast.
  • The voiceover moves uncomfortably from Tobey to George Clooney—later (at the 75-minute mark) the film switches to Cate Blanchett’s voice.
  • This is not so much a war film—but a murder mystery in a postwar setting/backdrop. In that way (and a few others)- it has much in common with Polanski’s Chinatown (a fair amount of pastiche there as well). This is The Maltese Falcon– corruption, greed, a girl between- one side against the other.
  • A handsome sewer sequence just before the 80-minute mark that stands out (above)
  • If you read the critics the Thomas Newman score is just about the only aspect of The Good German that is universally praised—and unquestionably, Newman’s work warrants this applause. There are moments when screenwriting betrays the actors- but with Newman’s accompaniment and actors as good as Clooney and Blanchett (she reportedly studied Marlene Dietrich (a German) and Ingrid Bergman) getting to deliver lines like “You can never really get out of Berlin” – I cannot agree with the overall poor reviews on the film -even if it does not live up to the potential with talents like Blanchett, Clooney and Soderbergh involved.

a fabulous scene, first Soderbergh blocks the camera with black trousers—then chooses to elevate the camera.

Like he almost always does- Soderbergh shot the film himself (pseudonym Peter Andrews) and edited it himself, too (as Mary Ann Bernard)

  • With the propeller plane and the rain finale- like the poster- the ending is a homage to Casablanca. It certainly does not warrant artistic comparisons to the 1942 classic film—but still—here we have two great actors in their own right with notes in the score that could be from Shawshank.
  • Todd Haynes’ Far From Heaven (2002) is a film that comes to mind that compares with Soderbergh’s aim here
  • Recommend but not in the top 10 of 2006