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December 26, 2006

Casino Royale & The Good German

Filed under: Movies — Bob @ 8:48 pm

Two more outstanding movies to report on. We finally saw Casino Royale today, and caught The Good German a little more than a week ago. Both film are really excellent although in very different ways.

good_german.jpgCate Blanchett and George Clooney bring outstanding performances to what may appear to be a rather mundane film. Steven Soderberg has truly captured the essence of a 1940’s film noir set during the Potsdam Conference at the close of WWII in Europe. Shot entirely in black and white using techniques and sometimes equipment from that era, the film stands out against the action-oriented films that dominate today’s theaters.

George Clooney plays his role with his typical excellence however the real star is Cate Blanchett. She brings an extraordinary performance that reminds me of Ingrid Bergmen or Marlene Dietrich.

The plot is not very complex and the pacing is a bit slow by comparison to Casino Royale. On the other hand, compare this film to something like The Maltese Falcon. Both films have intrigue, good guys, bad guys, and a women in desperate need of assistance. The Good German is an excellent film worthy of critical attention.

I doubt this film will appeal to a lot of people but if you should see it if you have the opportunity. The photography, lighting and acting is really something special.

casino_royale.jpgFor comparison, we saw Daniel Craig in the latest James Bond franchise film. This is the best Bond film in many years. Its packed with gritty action, a bit of cheesy dialog and a femme fatale or two. This “Bond Villain” is a classic megalomaniac but without the doomsday weapon. He is very smart however and has a great plan for personal gain to the detriment of the general populace. Although trivial, the backdrop of a terrorist organization updates the plot from the 1960s nicely.

I was reminded of Goldfinger quite often while watching this film (my two favorite Bond films are Goldfinger and Thunderball). The villain is powerful and wealthy but not so powerful as to be unbelievable. The villain’s plan for personal gain is not too fantastic – its possible it could actually work. The locations are beautiful; the automobiles and gadgets are even better.

The obligatory torture scene is a bit more disturbing than any other I can recall but the outcome is far superior. There is no magic involved and no special gadget that saves the day. The cheese factor is quite low for a Bond film actually, and very much appreciated.

Some have said that Daniel Craig is as good as Sean Connery. I’d have to agree, and this is certainly the best Bond film in a very long time. Gosh I hope they make another one as good as this one.

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