(In theaters, January 2007) Steven Soderbergh strikes out as often as he hits home run, but The Good German ends up being a solid triple: not quite what we’d expect, but not a bad effort. There’s something lovely about his intention to direct a film as if this was 1945, with limited camera tricks, luscious black-and-white cinematography and classical staging. But this intention eventually clashes with the harsh language, explicit scenes and darkening geopolitics that eventually come to dominate the film. Though the clash is deliberate, it’s not entirely successful: Ironically, I think that the bitter denunciation of American post-WW2 power plays could have played well had the film toned down the more superficial language, sex and violence. More subtlety would have gone a long way… exactly like it did back then. Otherwise, George Clooney and Cate Blanchett are successful in roles seemingly tailored for them, while Tobey Maguire looks like he’s having a lot of fun as a repellent character far removed from his usual goody-goody heroes. Not a bad film, but certainly a let-down in how it does so many things right only to be defeated by the few things it does wrong.