A Few Good Men

You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth! No truth-handler, you. Bah! We deride your truth-handling abilities! 

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It’s all here in ‘A Few Good Men’, the iconic military legal thriller courtroom drama. Tom Cruise as a cocky young hotshot lawyer! Demi Moore as an idealistic, impassioned career military attorney (who, as the only woman in a world of competent men, is herself strangely incompetent)! Jack Nicholson as the menacing, authoritarian Marine colonel who ordered the Code Red! Wait, but did he? You’re goddamn right he did!

Hemal and Brian went long on this one. There’s a lot to unpack. At its heart, ‘A Few Good Men’ is less a mystery or a legal thriller than an extended philosophical exercise, putting the classical liberalism of virtue ethics against cold-eyed utilitarianism, if you like that sort of thing. Mostly, though, we had a lot to say about Kevin Bacon’s haircut.

It’s a strangely formal & focused movie. From the very first scene, director Rob Reiner deliberately punctures any possible tension that might arise from mystery. We, the viewers, know exactly what happened that fateful night, even as the characters struggle to understand and make sense of it. We decided this is because screenwriter Aaron Sorkin doesn’t trust his audience to figure anything out on their own; the movie has to spell it out for you, often in the form of the characters themselves delivering lengthy explanations of their actions and beliefs. Brian enjoyed this, since the movie has such a clear sense of what it cares about. Hemal disliked it, because she can’t stand Aaron Sorkin’s whole deal.

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