Here’s two quick reviews of films out today in limited release. Those lucky few of you can find them at your local theater, but the rest of us will have to wait weeks for them to be released.
The first film is Steven Soderberg and George Clooney’s latest collaboration The Good German. The second, Breaking and Entering, is another film about adultery, this one starring Jude Law and Robin Wright Penn.
The Good German: 3 & ½ Stars (out of 5)
I’m not as big a fan of Steven Sodebergh as many are. I enjoy his lighter films (Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve) but haven’t cared much for his dramas (Traffic). His latest is the tale of American journalist Jake Geismer (George Clooney) who finds himself ensnared in a world of murder and suspicion at the Potsdam Conference at the end of WWII. A murder investigation, a conniving driver (Toby Maguire), a missing scientist (Christian Oliver), and a former lover (Cate Blanchett) complicate Giesmer’s stay in Berlin. Is it self-indulgent? God yes. Soderbergh tried to recreate an average 1950’s film and succeeded. Which means, of course, we are left with an average 1950’s film. The look and style of the film are terrific, and there are some nice performances (though Maquire seems an odd choice for noir). If only the story measured up to the style perhaps this would be more than just a minor curiosity.
Breaking and Entering: 3 Stars (out of 5)
Hollywood seems to have a fascination with adultery (Little Children, released just weeks ago – read that review). Here an architect (Jude Law) begins an affair with a single mother (Juliette Binoche). There are a couple of twists however. Amira’s son (Rafi Gavron) has been breaking and entering and stealing from Will’s business, which he knows but Amira does not. Will’s cheating is as much revenge as it is need for comfort he is not recieving from his wife (Robin Wright Penn) and needy autistic daughter (Poppy Rogers). Also included are good small performances from Vera Farmiga and Ray Winstone (though both were better in The Departed – read that review). The small twists add something to the overdone tale, but the film never quite fits all its stars together in the right way. Still, many will enjoy both the performances and story, even if you have seen it before.