Paul Attanasio

Paul Attanasio

Paul Attanasio Quick Links

News Film RSS

The Good German Review


Excellent
Those who will hate The Good German will do so not because of its time-appropriate look and technique (more on that in a moment), but because it wants to be a wartime drama stripped of romance -- those movie stars may be standing in the rain next to a plane with its engines running, but this isn't Casablanca. Paul Attanasio's bruiser of a script (based on Joseph Kanon's novel) has all the hallmarks of a classy WWII drama. World-weary reporter Jake Geismer (George Clooney) shows up in Berlin two months after the collapse of the Reich to cover the Potsdam Peace Conference, at which the three Allied powers will carve up Europe like so much pie. His driver, Cpl. Tully (Tobey Maguire, sublimely sleazy), is a big fixer in the thriving local black market, and just so happens to be shacking up with statuesque Berliner Lena Brandt (Cate Blanchett), an ex-girlfriend of Geismer's who's so far out of Tully's league he should need a passport to get within five hundred yards of her. But, it's Berlin 1945, and a German woman with a shady wartime past is going to sleep with who she has to in order to get out. Geismer can sense a story in all of Brandt's meaningful silences -- that, and the moment when Tully shows up dead in Potsdam with 100,000 marks in his pocket.Romance, murder, corruption, the looming mood of great historical events, The Good German has all the hallmarks of a well-meaning, by-the-books Hollywood period drama. But director Steven Soderbergh is after something else. There's that shockingly brutal sex scene between Tully and Brandt, a couple of nasty back-alley fights that leave nobody looking good, and an overall mood of tired cynicism that doesn't leave much room for heroics. This is Berlin, after all, the heart of evil, in ruins. Hitler has been dead a mere two months, and while the Americans are hunting down Nazis for war crimes, it's already obvious they will look the other way when it comes to rocket scientists. The grand crusade has already been corrupted, and the Americans and Russians are just squatting in the ruined city fighting over the spoils while their soldiers deal in whores and whiskey.More unsettling than the script's cynicism is how it's presented. Soderbergh -- who once worried that the disastrous response to Kafka meant he'd never have a chance to work in black and white again -- not only shot The Good German in black and white, but he did so in the style of the time period. The sound is echoey and occasional poor, the acting somewhat stiff in that studio film manner, while the film itself comes close to mimicking the very appearance of work from the time period. Soderbergh went so far as to dig up old 1940s Panavision camera lenses, and even utilized unused footage shot in a still-bombed-out 1948 Berlin by Billy Wilder for A Foreign Affair. It's a stunning creation, one of the most gorgeously-composed films of recent years, and accomplishing the seemingly impossible: showing that Blanchett actually looks more beautiful in monochrome.While the visual verisimilitude is a shocking contrast with the script's modernity (swear words, a lack of staginess), it quickly makes a great deal of sense as we realize this isn't meant to be a romantic drama, a la Casablanca, it's a noir thriller in the manner of The Third Man. While the script's game of "who's the patsy?" spins about, it also plays with some weightier topics, most importantly the guilt of everyday Germans who may not have had an active role in the war but didn't necessarily do anything to stop it. In 1945, could there be such things as a good German? As Brandt says at one point, "It's very easy to blame everything on the war."Thick with hypocrisy and corruption, the world of The Good German is more that of Graham Greene and a wearied Europe than that of the sun-dazed California dream factory who would continue to mine happy fake fantasies out of the war for decades later. For this it will be hated, though wrongly. Noirs this good don't come along every day, or even every year.Good evening, ladies and germs.

Quiz Show Review


Very Good
People have tried to peg the "end of American innocence" on all sorts of things -- Vietnam, Watergate, the nuclear arms race -- but Robert Redford is, I believe, the first and only person to blame the decline of western civilization on the 21 game show scandal of the 1950s. But there you have it: A curious incident from the past -- and an inevitability, really -- in which upstanding blueblood Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes in a very memorable role) gets caught up in a fixed game show, bringing the show and its producers (but ultimately, no one else) to its knees. Strangely, for such a buildup -- and Redford manages to build quite a snowball of drama in all of this, full of heroes and antiheroes -- the payoff is a real letdown. America survived the quiz show scandals, and trying to overblow the impact of what amounts to a novelty investigation rings a little bit false.

Sphere Review


Weak
Sphere is one of those movies I hate to review more than I hate to watch. On one hand, you have the numerous good aspects of the film (top notch cast, etc.). On the other hand, you have a plot that can't be passed off in the world of celluloid.

Based on the novel by Michael Crichton, Sphere concerns a team called the ULF team (Unknown Life Form). These people, hand picked by Norman Johnson (Dustin Hoffman) during the cold war, are a team designed to make contact with alien life. On it are a mathmatician (Samuel L. Jackson), an astrophysicist (Liev Schrieber), a biologist (Sharon Stone), and a shrink who didn't take the whole thing seriously and picked people to be at each other's throats (Dustin Hoffman).

Continue reading: Sphere Review

Donnie Brasco Review


Very Good
Well, someone had to wrest the monopoly on gangster movies from the hands of Scorsese and Coppola. So why not Mike Newell, of Four Weddings and a Funeral fame, to direct it? And why not put Johnny Depp in a starring role? And Anne Heche -- you know, Ellen's girlfriend -- as his wife!? It sounds bizarre, but put this group together with Monster of Acting Pacino and Quiz Show scribe Paul Attanasio and you've got a pleasant surprise on your hands, not to mention one of the longest-running films at the box office this year. Long stuck in development because of GoodFellas, Donnie Brasco is in many ways a similar film, and in most of them better. The true story of FBI agent Joe Pistone, who in the late 70s infiltrated his way into the New York mafia to become a "made man" under the name of Donnie Brasco, Depp is surprisingly believable as an earnest father caught up in the mob mentality. Pacino shines as always, though it's not his usual character; here he's a tragic King Lear who just can't catch a break. But as for the iffy pan-and-scan job on the videotape, take a cue from the wiseguys: Fuggedaboudit.

The Sum Of All Fears Review


Weak
The biggest mystery in The Sum of All Fears is not how terrorists manage to smuggle a nuclear bomb into downtown Baltimore. Rather, it's how CIA operative Jack Ryan, formerly played by Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford, has suddenly become 30 years younger and has turned into a junior agent at the CIA with only a few months of experience. In the hands of Ben Affleck, Ryan is no longer the commanding veteran he once was in films like Patriot Games. Now he's little more than a jerky teenager with a hot girlfriend and a chip on his shoulder.

I won't try to explain the metamorphosis of Ryan because it's never mentioned in the movie (and no, it's not a prequel; the film takes place in the present). Central to the plot is the hunt for an old nuclear bomb lost by the Israelis in 1973 and recovered, sold, and rebuilt by various arms dealers, terrorists, and neo-Nazi groups decades later. Their idea is to blow up the bomb in the U.S., blame it on the Russians, ignite a massive nuclear response from both sides, and -- in the greatest stretch of imagination ever to strike a Hitler enthusiast -- somehow survive WWIII and seize control of the world in the aftermath.

Continue reading: The Sum Of All Fears Review

Disclosure Review


Weak
A few big names fell on their faces over the 1994 holidays. Most notable among them was Demi Moore and the rest of the cast of Disclosure. Disclosure, ostensibly about reverse sexual harassment, is really just a platform for Moore's true lack of acting ability to come through better than ever. And is the audience supposed to feel some gripping suspense and excitement because, oh no!, Michael Douglas may actually lose his job? After the first hour, I was hoping some terrorists would show up at the office with a van full of dynamite so Bruce Willis could drop in and save his wife from this poor excuse for a film.
Paul Attanasio

Paul Attanasio Quick Links

News Film RSS
Advertisement

Occupation

Filmmaker


Suggested

Shia Labeouf Got 12 Tattoos While Making American Honey

Shia Labeouf Got 12 Tattoos While Making American Honey

Over the past five years, Shia LaBeouf has gone from promising young actor to unemployable disaster and back again.

Bon Iver Are Here With Their Eagerly Anticipated Third Album '22, A Million'

Bon Iver Are Here With Their Eagerly Anticipated Third Album '22, A Million'

The band performed the album in full at Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival this summer.

Soundgarden And Pearl Jam Supergroup Temple Of The Dog Celebrate 25th Anniversary With Rerelease

Soundgarden And Pearl Jam Supergroup Temple Of The Dog Celebrate 25th Anniversary With Rerelease

The band's first and only album has been re-mixed and re-mastered.

Justin Theroux's Cousin Tackles Religious Ethics In Latest Documentary 'My Scientology Movie'

Justin Theroux's Cousin Tackles Religious Ethics In Latest Documentary 'My Scientology Movie'

Louis Theroux incites anger from the Church of Scientology with his latest movie.

Advertisement
Mark Wahlberg Enjoyed The Risks He Took In Deepwater Horizon

Mark Wahlberg Enjoyed The Risks He Took In Deepwater Horizon

In Deepwater Horizon, Mark Wahlberg reteams with his Lone Survivor director Peter Berg.

Relive Kate Bush's 2014 Live Show With 'Before The Dawn'

Relive Kate Bush's 2014 Live Show With 'Before The Dawn'

The live album is set for released in November.

Advertisement

Paul Attanasio Movies

The Good German Movie Review

The Good German Movie Review

Those who will hate The Good German will do so not because of its time-appropriate...

Advertisement
The Sum of All Fears Movie Review

The Sum of All Fears Movie Review

The biggest mystery in The Sum of All Fears is not how terrorists manage to...

Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.