I recently saw The Reader (Stephen Daldry: The Hours), I like having seen the major movies before the Academy Awards are handed out, and sadly I still need to see Milk, Frost/Nixon, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by Sunday.
Anywho, I thought it was a great movie, written by a real fan of books. The usual things struck me: believable acting, enticing story, gorgeous backdrops and a zero-yawn factor. There is one thing that really struck me about this movie I have not seen in a long time, its attention to detail. There are two examples that really stood out to me.
In the opening scene we see young Michael (David Kross) ill in front of the apartment building where Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet: Titanic) lives. In the background are pieces of wood and I remeber thinking to myself that it looked like construction was still going on on the set. But as time advanced so too did the construction. It is that sort of attention to detail that while not making a great movie is a product of the same forces that make a quality movie. It also helps that it was consistent with my understanding of German pre-war prosperity and growth. The surest way to influence a critic is to make her think that whats she already knew was correct.
The second example of attention to detail also occurs in the beginning of the movie, these two insights probably influenced my favorable viewing of the movie later on, as the affair between Michael and Hanna is occuring. The few times Daldry shows a sex scene Michael is always on top, missionary position. Later, Hanna tells Michael that he is too concerned with planning. The next shot is of her on top of him, teaching him a lesson about letting go of control. That is tight writing, where everything is important and yet not necessarily explicated.