It's a fairly rare and always interesting phenomenon when a filmmaker releases two films in the same year. John Ford made three in 1939, Stagecoach, Young Mr. Lincoln and Drums Along the Mohawk. Alfred Hitchcock released two in 1941, the thriller Suspicion and the romantic comedy Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Howard Hawks had a one-two punch in 1952 with his Western adventure The Big Sky and a screwball comedy Monkey Business. And in 2002, director Phillip Noyce impressed critics everywhere with two politically-tinged dramas, Rabbit-Proof Fence and The Quiet American. But in these and other cases, one can always see the connection, if nothing else a particular sensibility or personality in each work.

I'm hard pressed to think of two more different films than Steven Soderbergh's Bubble and The Good German, released at the far opposite ends of 2006. The shot-on-video Bubble seemed to push the edges of the future of cinema with its astonishing deep-focus cinematography, its impressive working-class settings and its captivating characters (played by amateur actors). Additionally, the film tried a new stunt, being almost simultaneously released in theaters and on DVD. Whereas The Good German gets its inspiration entirely from the past, presented in luminous black-and-white film, set in post-World War II Berlin and featuring good old-fashioned movie stars.