Sometime around ’82 or ’83 there were two plays playing next to each other on 45th Street — one was called “Good” (written by C.P. Taylor, about an ordinary guy who becomes a Nazi) and the other was called “Plenty” (by David Hare). It was silly — bizarre, really — but those titles being proclaimed from their respective marquees looked like some kind of put-on. I remember standing nearby after the two were up and flashing and saying to myself, “This is a joke, right?”
In the same silly-ass vein we have two “good” movies coming out in December — Steven Soderbergh‘s The Good German (Warner Bros., 12.8) and Robert De Niro‘s The Good Shepherd (Universal, 12.22) which I’ve begun to refer to as German Shepherd .
The lameness of this juxtaposition plus the two-Goods-in-December are bonds of total brainlessness, agreed, but there’s more. They’re both adult thrillers, and both period pieces about cold-war political intrigues (the Soderbergh is set in Berlin in ’47 or ’48, and the De Niro flick begins its story about a James Angleton-like CIA figure in, I believe, the late ’40s). And their respective stars, George Clooney and Matt Damon, are topliners in the Oceans trilogy (Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen).
Plus the early buzz on both films is sorta similar. If I were writing for the New York Times, my editors would suggest the following sentence: “Whether these two films will be bet with critical and commercial success remains to be seen.”