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The Reeler Blog

Soderbergh's German Not Good Enough for DGA

Does anybody here know what this is called?

God fucking dammit, I always miss the good screenings. Toronto, for example, got a projector crisis and stand-up routine for its Borat premiere, and in New York all I get is an air kiss. And now, while I'm locked in for a Dec. 7 92nd Street Y preview of Steven Soderbergh's black-and-white, just-post-WWII mystery The Good German, Sheigh Crabtree writes that the filmmaker barely escaped with his life after a DGA screening last weekend:

The first question came from left field. An older woman was furious that Soderbergh moved hidden scientist Emil Brandt from the sewer to the cinema. She wanted to know why he jeopardized Brandt's safety. Expressing a more common sentiment, another old-timer stood up and said, "Were you planning to do a spoof or a parody of The Third Man?" Soderbergh offed the question by saying he did not tilt the camera as Carol Reed had.
It seemed a knife fight might break out when Soderbergh said to members: "I imagine a couple of you out there have directed a movie..." (Of course, many DGA NY members work in TV, but if it was a way of reminding them, it went over like a Scud missile.)

It's not quite John Moore shitting in his mega-sweats and challenging his detractors to a throwdown, but still. I can only pray the "old-timer" Upper East Side contingent will be as restless following next week's screening, prompting Soderbergh to quip, "I imagine a couple of you out there also hated The Third Man when it was new..." and thus provoking the director's hasty exit as a hail of boos and walkers crash onstage in abject septuagenarian fury. I'll pack the camera, my prayers and I guess some riot gear and report back with the news.

Posted at November 27, 2006 12:54 PM

Comments (2)

This story strikes me as one of those cases in which the writer's feelings about a movie colors how she gauges an audience's reaction. The Good German isn't the sort of movie that's going to inspire people to turn on a director in attendance; it's just isn't that hot-blooded. Anne Thompson feels the movie has "contempt" for the films of its period, just as Dead Man has contempt for old Westerns, which is just a completely mystifying opinion in both cases. Take this report with a shaker of salt.

Sheigh reported on the reaction to the New York DGA screening, while I weighed in with my own response to various riskybizblog comments. I'm not saying that Soderbergh has contempt for 40s films like Casablanca. He's intellectually deconstructing it and taking it apart. When Gus Van Sant reconstructed Psycho, he was offering a slavish Hitchcock hommage, while Soderbergh is questioning the m.o. of the studio fantasy factory. I am wondering if Soderbergh has contempt for his audience. As stylistically gorgeous and intelligently crafted as it is, The Good German is designed to provoke and challenge moviegoers, not to entertain them. Its main aim, I suspect, is to amuse Soderbergh.

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