I enjoy Steven Soderbergh’s movies, overall. I think he is one of the few mainstream American directors who is constantly trying to innovate, to experiment, and being as prolific as he is, the results tend to be a treat. (There are a few exceptions, of course.)
The good German is shot as if it had been made in the late forties or early fifties. If nothing else, it is a good exercise in style, much more rewarding than remaking Psycho. The story, a noir, concerns an American, his German old flame, Berlin during the Postdam peace conference, and a lot of hypocrisy from almost everybody involved. There is an obvious homage to Casablanca at the end, which I found charming. The musical score works differently from how music is treated nowadays, it is much more present in the sense that it has a shape and a theme and it is almost another character, but it is not intrusive or distracting. Thanks to having watched Sunset Boulevard recently, and a few days later, All about Eve, this was clear to me, although music works differently in these films from how it does in The Good German. (I’ve also recently watched The cabinet of doctor Caligari and Nosferatu, where music plays yet a completely different role.) The camera angles and even the cameras used are in the style of the period, and swipe cuts to shift scenes are common.
Not just the style, but the story itself was interesting. It is clearly a contemporary movie in goals and narrative, with a more daring agenda than a film from the period would have been able to portray. As for the actors, it was very nice to contrast Cate Blanchett’s character with the one she plays in Notes on a scandal; Tobey Maguire plays a character very different from those I am used to seeing him play; and George Clooney was excellent, of course. Very good.