'œI hate to ask, but can a filmmaker be too much of a movie buff?' said Anthony Lane in The New Yorker. Director Steven Soderbergh and leading man George Clooney both stumble badly in this black-and-white pastiche of postwar noir films. The tale of intrigue and louche romance in late-1940s Berlin doesn't so much pay homage to The Third Man and Casablanca as rip them off entirely, right down to the latter's fog-enshrouded closing scene. Fans of those films may find this diverting, said Richard Schickel in Time. 'œSoderbergh doesn't miss a trick, and for a while it's fun for us to share in his fun.' But soon it feels like homework. Clooney, as a naÃ¯ve American journalist, and Cate Blanchett, as his manipulative German lover, are pale echoes of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Your attention drifts to Tobey Maguire, who runs away with the picture 'œas one of the utterly chilling rogues who think they're charming.' The film also doesn't look much like Casablanca, said Peter Rainer in The Christian Science Monitor. Soderbergh filmed The Good German on old studio back lots, using 60-year-old lenses. 'œWith all this effort, one might expect something gorgeous, or at least gorgeously antiquated.' But the cinematography just seems leaden and ugly. Like so much else in The Good German, it strives for authenticity but comes off looking like a cheap copy.
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