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December 15, 2006

Major Pan For Clooney's "The Good German"

Playing a journalist, of course, which only a pampered movie star could consider a heroic career choice.

Oh yeah -- and even in a film set in Nazi Germany, the Americans are the bad guys.

Mr. Clooney is no Bogart, no matter how many rumpled trench coats he borrows from studio wardrobe. Too pretty to get slashed, shot, pistol-whipped, beaten and hacked into raw hamburger every time he enters a room, he learns nothing but just keeps coming back for more. What a meathead. What’s the big secret that Lena’s husband knows, that the U.S. Army is willing to disfigure George Clooney’s billion-dollar face to hide? There’s a preposterous plot twist every five minutes, a muddled point (even a good German hasn’t got a chance against the evil villains in the American government), and the ending—replete with a propeller, a rainy airport runway and Mr. Clooney in another trench coat—is stolen right out of the final four minutes of Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca. None of it makes any sense, and even the black-and-white newsreel footage of ravaged war zones and the faces of the decimated German people is boring. You lose sleep thinking of all the ways The Good German goes wrong. Where is Hitler? Where are the tanks?

Hitler is absent because his presence would deflect attention away from American Evil.

It's being savaged by most, garnering a 30% positive rating on RottenTomatoes' survey, which is preposterously bad for 1, a prestige picture and 2, a liberal-pleasing fantasia.

Even the uberliberal Village Voice hates it:

The movie is lovingly framed, carefully lit, and fatally insipid. The direction is slack; the pacing is perfunctory. While the mysteries of Blanchett's past proliferate, Clooney never has much trouble finding her (or her file).

In his most fatal re-creation, Soderbergh closes with an homage to Casablanca. It's a dark and misty night. The getaway plane is on the runway. Blanchett is wearing an Ingrid Bergman cloche hat and Clooney is desperately trying to think for the both of them. But if Casablanca was the acme of wartime romanticism, The Good German is its self-conscious antithesis. Soderbergh wants to show the birth of postwar moral relativism. It's hard to believe in anything—his characters most of all.

There's a quote I like but can't remember. It goes something like, "Sophistication is the process by which you take your childhood jewels and exchange them for ash."

Something like that.

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posted by Ace at 01:40 PM

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