A Spy Tale with A Bitter Taste

What Hollywood means by a high-IQ spy thriller is something like The Bourne Ultimatum: a movie with lots of fights and chases, starring a guy who got into Harvard. For the real thing, get the DVD, out Aug. 21, of The Lives of Others, the 2006 German drama that won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. It reveals espionage as a dirty game that can crush a man and compromise a nation without a single punch. And soon Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's terrific film is to be remade by a U.S. studio. Uh-oh.

Set in East Germany in...

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