November 11, 2006
"The Good German"

Steven Soderbergh's latest effort is one of those films you kind of have to see twice before you make any sort of specific comment on it. Whatever the initial reaction, positive or negative, it really might be best to go back to the thing once you know its intentions. Even when the Warner Bros. publicst sent me a note yesterday asking what I thought, my reaction was to hold back and request the screening schedule. I need to take another look.

This isn't a review by any stretch. Call it thinking out loud if anything. But I sat in the Clarity screening room last week at the BFCA/LAFCA screening following a lush little reception (Soderbergh and composer Thomas Newman were in attendance) just like everyone else. And from what I can gauge, not a lot of critics can get into this thing.

Personally, it was a sort of chaffing experience that I wasn't prepared for. Prior to the screening, I had no idea Soderbergh emulated the films of the 40s in his technique to the extent finally outlined by David Kehr in the New York Times today, and neither did a couple of other viewers I know. So the cold water to the face is a bit much to start.

I've made some comments here and there that I have to say I stand by. Tobey Maguire's over-the-top portrayal still doesn't work, for instance. But in addition, Cate Blanchett's performance is a certain shade of spectacular, while Thomas Newman's score is one of his finest to date, and certainly his most soaring work since "The Shawshank Redemption" (it's between Newman and Philip Glass's career-best work for the win, methinks). George Clooney still has zero chemistry with his co-star, however, and is kind of laughable as the leading man he's there to portray, but again, I need to smooth it all out.

It was an interesting exercise, to say the least. I look forward to another viewing.


Thomas Newman is my favourite composer right now so I'm looking forard to this.

BTW his Road to Perdition score outclassed his Shawshank Redemption efoort I thought. What did you think of it?

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