Sunday, March 30, 2008

Five Film Reviews in Brief: The Good German, The Lives of Others, The Good Shepherd, Black Book and Joyeux Noël

  • The Good German with Tobey Maquire, Kate Blanchett and George Clooney. A decent film, well worth your time if only to watch Kate Blanchett, who seems like a goddess among men in this WW2 drama. Poor George Clooney acts like he's George Clooney trying to act in big time movie, it doesn't really fly. See him in Michael Clayton, he's perfect for that role. Tobey Maquire plays quite the little bastard, he does it surprisely well.
  • The Lives of Others with a bunch of fine German actors you probably never heard of. There's a reason why this film was somewhat widely distributed in the Anglo-sphere, it's an excellent, excellent film, a must see. The late Ulrich Mühe plays an East German STASI agent monitoring the lives of others, a playwright played by Sebastian Koch and his actress girlfriend played by Martina Gedeck. Set in the GDR before the fall, everyone is watched and a harmless joke could cost you your career. Big brother is listening, but why? Watch Ulrich Mühe's performance carefully, it's a study in less is so much more.
  • The Good Shepherd with Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie and Robert Deniro in Robert Deniro's study of the CIA as experienced by a promising young Yale man, Damon. Well worth your time. I can't believe I used to think of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck as the same sort of actors, Damon proves himself about 87.5 notches above Afflecks finest work in this role. Coincidentally, Martina Gedeck has a minor part in this film, look for her.
  • Black Book or Zwartboek by Paul Verhoeven, I know, but try to forget everything you know about Show Girls and Starship Troopers, this is his best film, that I have ever seen, by far. It depicts the struggles of a young Jewish girl, played very well by Carice van Houten in Nazi occupied Holland. Sebastian Koch from the Lives of Others plays her Nazi boyfriend. An engaging and complicated plot, well executed. By all means see it.
  • Joyeux Noël, I wanted to like this movie I really did, but I didn't. It's about an implausible, impromptu truce between German, French and Scottish troops on the Western Front during WW1. You would think that the fact the story is based on actual events would make the story more believable, but it didn't. That's not the real problem, the film maker took pains to show how insane it is to shoot a man after you shared a meal, a smoke and a soccer match with him. Give your audience some credit, the Christmas eve soldier's truce of 1914 and it's subsequent rescission and repercussions are perhaps the greatest and most easily demonstrable condemnation of senseless war in the last 200 years. A less maudlin approach would have served the subject matter better.

2 comments:

Dexter said...

I didn't like the Good German...Good Shepard was okay but sluggish and too long ...The Lives of Others is an incredible look at what happens when loyalty to the state is all that matters and those that fight it. I enjoyed the look and feel of Joyeux Noel but I will still take Kubrick's Paths of Glory , and the WWII film A Midnight Clear.

Need to see Black Book....i think its on Demand currently so will check it out.

Anonymous said...

Gotta see it if M. Damon actually acts, as in Actor..... can't believe it, but you've got me interested.