American reporter Jake Geismar (George Clooney) goes to postwar Berlin to find his former mistress (Cate Blanchett) and winds up investigating a complex murder mystery. Tobey Maguire also stars.
Big question: Can director Steven Soderbergh ("Traffic," "Ocean's Eleven," "Bubble") succeed in making yet another change in his style?
Catch it: Soderbergh might be the most adaptable filmmaker working today, and Bogie himself would surely approve of the hard-edged, black-and-white "The Good German." The film is an engrossing, timeless tale of the way that war wraps its fingers around everyone it touches.
Skip it: If you hate reference points such as "Casablanca." Um, are you crazy?!
Bottom line: The film can be emotionally hollow and will probably be remembered more as homage than as its own entity. But except for the profanity and the recognizable faces, you'd think "The Good German" was shot 60 years ago, as it delivers so much old-fashioned style and panache it turns the theater into a time machine. Soderbergh is out to dispel the phrase, "They don't make 'em like they used to," and he mostly succeeds.
Bonus: Tully (Maguire) insists, "Money allows you to be who you truly are." And who says Paris Hilton is phony?
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
'The Good German'
Directed by Steven Soderbergh; screenplay by Paul Attanasio, based on Joseph Kanon's novel; cinematography by Peter Andrews; edited by Mary Ann Bernard; production design by Philip Messina; music by Thomas Newman; produced by Ben Cosgrove and Gregory Jacobs. A Warner Bros. Pictures release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:47. MPAA rating: R (for language, violence and some sexual content).
Jake Geismer - George Clooney
Lena Brandt - Cate Blanchett
Corporal Tully - Tobey Maguire
Colonel Muller - Beau Bridges
General Sikorsky - Ravil IsyanovCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times