31 January 2009

DVD: "The Good German"

The Good German
Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Screenplay by Paul Attanasio
Based upon the novel by Joseph Kanon
Starring: George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Tobey Maguire
DVD Release: 22 May 2007

MPAA Rating: R (For Language, Violence and Some Sexual Content)
List Price: $19.97
Cinescope Personality Type: Courageous Detective

The Film
Not only is The Good German a period piece set in post-WW II Berlin, but it's designed to look and sound as though it were filmed then, too.  Not only is this reflected in the production design, but the film itself is shot in black & white, 4:3 aspect ratio.  American journalist Jack Geismer (Clooney) returns to Berlin for the first time since war broke out to cover the Potsdam Conference.  He gets caught up in a tangled plot concerning Lena (Blanchett), his ex who has since become a shameless prostitute involved with his ambitious and crooked driver (Maguire).  As film noir as it gets, The Good German has it all: a flawed hero, a believable antagonist, a beautiful woman in the thick of a plot with enough twists to not be predictable.

Unfortunately, The Good German is inexcusably devoid of any bonus features.  Had the DVD not been released in 2007, or had there been another edition with features, perhaps this would not be so offensive.

The Recommendation
Because The Good German does not take any advantage of the DVD format, I cannot advise anyone to pay full list price for it.  I found it in the $5 bin at Walmart, and at that price I was more than happy with the film, and content with the DVD.  Otherwise, it is certainly worthy of a rental.  Fans of the cast will likely enjoy their performances (though Maguire's fans might be startled), as will fans of film noir.

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