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THE GOOD GERMAN ($28) is director Steven Soderbergh mildly fascinating, albeit flawed, throwback to old-styled Hollywood filmmaking. The film harkens to the glamour and romance of films of the 1940ís like Michael Curtizí CASABLANCA, but mixes in the postwar cynicism of Carol Reedís THE THIRD MAN. However, THE GOOD GERMAN ultimately is marked by too many modern sensibilities to make it an effective recreation of the movies it tries to emulate. Of course, this isnít to say that THE GOOD GERMAN isnít a reasonably entertaining film; it just comes up short in its recreation of the old Hollywood style.

Set in postwar Berlin, THE GOOD GERMAN finds George Clooney in the role of American military journalist Captain Jake Geismer, who finds himself quickly drawn into the mysterious death of a serviceman in Russian occupied territory. Cate Blanchett portrays Lena Brandt, Jakeís former flame, who has turned to prostitution to survive the fall of Germany. Finally, we have Tobey Maguire as Corporal Patrick Tully, who has been assigned to be Jakeís driver while he is in Berlin. Although Tully looks like the all American boy, he is heavily involved in the black market and his schemes to get Lena out of Germany ultimately result in problems for all involved. The cast of THE GOOD GERMAN also features Jack Thompson, John Roeder, Dominic Comperatore, Dave Power, Tony Curran, Beau Bridges, Don Pugsley, Leland Orser, Robin Weigert and Christian Oliver.

Warner Home Video has made THE GOOD GERMAN available on DVD in a black and white transfer that frames the film in 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratio. Although the film was shown at a mildly widescreen 1.66:1 in theatrical venues, director Steven Soderbergh has had the film presented in the old Academy aspect ratio on DVD to fully recreate to the feeling of a 1940ís film. For the most part the presentation works, but there are issues with either the filmís original black and white cinematography or transfer, as the contrast appears blown out in places. Otherwise the DVD does a good job recapturing the filmic style of the 1940s. Sharpness and image detail are just fine. Grayscale for the most part is nicely varied, but comes up short when compared to the best films from the actual period. Film grain is noticeable, but not particularly problematic. Digital compression artifacts are reasonably well contained.

THE GOOD GERMAN comes with a solid Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Because the filmmakers were going for a period flavor and the talky nature of the material, the sound design is rather reserved. Sound effects rarely attract attention to themselves and the acoustic space tends to be reigned in. For the most part, the outlying channels are utilized for ambience and musical integration. Fidelity is very good, which gives clarity and depth to the musical component. Voices are natural sounding and the dialogue is easy to understand. French and Spanish 5.1 channel tracks, along with an English 2.0 stereo track have also encoded onto the DVD, as have English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few trailers for other Warner productions.

Although it is flawed, THE GOOD GERMAN is worth seeing for its stylistic choices and good cast. Warnerís presentation is solid, but the lack of supplements is disappointing.



The Good German (2006)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2007 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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