WHAT I LIKED: Steven Soderburgh's 'The Good German,' is an exercise in replicating the stylishness of 1940s detective cinema, and as far as that's concerned it does a pretty remarkable job, even if it doesn't attempt to get close to the serious tension or brilliance of those films. The black-and-white, square-frame cinematography from Soderburgh is beautifully rich, Thomas Newman's score is as sweeping and melodramatic as you could possibly hope for, and Paul Attanasio's script is brilliantly twisty and packed with caricatures. There's the hero American journalist (George Clooney) who just can't stop getting into fist-fights, lighting cigarettes, smoking them for the duration of two lines and then downing some liqeur before smacking his glass on the table and leaving. There's his long-lost lover who he discovers on the streets of post-war Berlin (Cate Blanchett) - a dark damsel in distress who's been forced to do terrible things during the war who just wants to leave the city. There's a murder case to solve that leads to corruptions embedded within the American leadership, and nothing that can't be sorted out by a bit of sneaking through the streets in the night and bending a mate's arm for a bunch of classified documents. It's all good fun, and whilst the way it's constructed isn't designed to have you on the edge of your seat, it will have you somewhat amused and entranced - especially with such an interesting portrayal of immediate post-war Berlin (something you don't actually see that much of on the big screen).
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: It's no serious masterpiece - the characters are thinly drawn, the plot is treated with very little seriousness and it's certainly not concerned with dealing serious themes. Some seem to have taken its artfulness (and the movies it's looking back to) as signalling something more serious, but anyone who knows Soderburgh by now should see that it's all supposed to be a little bit tongue-in-cheek.
VERDICT: A very successful exercise in acing 1940s detective cinema in a caricatured, almost tongue-in-cheek way, Steven Soderburgh's 'The Good German,' is no serious masterpiece, but it is a whole lot of fun and is beautifully executed too.