Wednesday, June 27, 2012

F This Movie! - A Few Good Men

Patrick and Doug's existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.

Download this episode here. (31.8 MB)

Email F This Movie! at fthismoviepodcast(at)

Subscribe to F This Movie! in iTunes

Like F This Movie! on Facebook and follow F This Movie! on Twitter

Also discussed this episode: Chinatown, Margot at the Wedding, Your Friends and Neighbors, Don't Go in the Woods, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World


  1. Give "Howards End" a try when you are in the mood for brilliant, understated acting. It's really good.

    Hearing "Your Friends and Neighbors" brought up on the podcast ran a chill up my spine. It's the only movie where I got up from my couch and left the house because the other people watching it wanted to keep going. Literally made me sick.

    1. I'm sure it's good. Doug and I like to "pretend" that we're bored by British costume dramas. It's all just pretend.

  2. Do you think that the Demi Moore part would have been better if it was kept as written for a man? I heard it was originally and they changed it around to fit an actress.

    I was in-between on Seeking A Friend. I thought that the comedy portions were an ill-fit with the subject matter. I didn't laugh at all. That aside, I thought Keira Knightley was really good at downplaying the 'manic pixie dreamgirl' part she was given and the last 20 minutes are just heartbreaking. It struck me as how real people would act in that situation which is they would be barely able to move.

    I completely agree with you on Five Easy Pieces. I saw it last fall for the first time and really enjoyed it. I think I still like The Last Detail the best of the early Nicholson movies. He was so good at that time of playing adrift, empathetic, intelligent characters that were all the more interesting because of their volatility.

    1. That's hard to say. I don't think it's the gender I have a problem with; I just feel like the character itself feels a little unnecessary. It's actually probably for the best that it's a woman, because at least that allows for a different perspective and gives Aaron Sorkin (or some uncredited re-writer) the opportunity to address gender politics in the military, albeit VERY briefly.

      I completely understand having a mixed reaction to Seeking a Friend. It's that kind of movie. I'm glad to hear any of it worked for you, considering the reaction it's getting in some circles. I really liked how ill-fitting the humor felt in the first half. It's a difficult situation to make funny, and I felt like the director knew that as well as the characters. Everyone felt kind of desperate and lost. There's a beat early on (Steve Carell is in his car) that threw down the gauntlet in a way I wasn't expecting, and I knew at that moment that the movie was going to be something special.

      Haven't seen The Last Detail since the '90s, but I remember really loving Jack Nicholson in it. I totally want to watch it again now.

    2. Unfortunately(?), you have to watch a Jackie Chan movie now instead.

    3. Honestly, I think the problem is that it's Demi Moore, who's never shown a particularly decent level of acting.

    4. Maybe. But, again, I think it's just the way the part is written -- there isn't a whole lot of complexity. These are movie star parts, played competently by movie stars. This is only my opinion.

      Also, let's not forget Demi Moore's openly miserable performance in One Crazy Summer. Genius!

  3. When you were talking about how you wished Cruise had shown just a little remorse at having provoked Col. Jessup into his admission, it made me flash back to The Caine Mutiny.


    In that movie, Jose Ferrer plays an attorney who "breaks" Captain Queeg on the stand as part of defending his client Van Johnson. Later, Ferrer drunkenly confronts the mutineers and talks about his regret at having done so, recognizing Queeg as a somewhat sympathetic figure who was entitled to a lot more support than what he got from his crew. It's a tremendous sequence, and provides those "shades of grey" you were talking about.

    1. Yes! Good call. And since it seems like Caine Mutiny is one of those movies from which AFGM draws its "old-fashioned" influence, it would have been nice if that aspect was one of the things they borrowed as well.

  4. I really don't see Jack Nicholson as a lazy actor, though that is never really said directly in this episode. I think he's just one of the last true movie stars, an actor who we go to see time after time because we like him, not because he's going to be different every film.

    I think Nicholson does change for each role in a way that's appropriate to the story. There are very films he's been in that would be better if someone else was playing his role, which is not something you can say for all of his contemporaries. If that's not the sign of a versatile actor, what is?

    This is a very enjoyable episode about a movie I hadn't really thought about in years.

    1. I don't know that I characterize him as lazy, exactly, though I do think he's capable of giving lazy performances. I think he's picked up some bad habits over the years, and there are a number of movies in which he coasts on being Jack Nicholson. That doesn't mean he's incapable of doing something different, or that he doesn't take chances every once in a while. I just don't think the Nicholson of the '80s and '90s can compare to the guy from the '70s -- he was still more of an "actor" than a "movie star," if the distinction makes sense.

      I still think he's great, and I even like him in A Few Good Men. I was just pointing out that my memory of the movie was that he BROUGHT IT way more than he does. He's pretty much just doing Jack Nicholson. I'll take that over a whole lot else.

  5. A bit late to the party, but oh well.

    Doug. Me. Man Love. Yes!

    I am so glad you guys (in particular Doug) spoke highly of this film. A Few Good Men was a personal favourite of mine for so long, for no good reason that i can think of besides I liked it. It was the first "grown up" film I ever watched at the cinema, and possibly the first one I saw all the way through at all.

    No, its not perfect and I feel history is not being very kind to it. Ive never bothered to analyse it too much, it has always just been a film ive gone along with and enjoyed.

    On the point of the intro with the marching parade thingy. I always really liked that one too, but I disagree that you ignore the Code Red intro. I think both of these scenes, taken together, set up the film really well. The grim and gritty reality of life in a front line where people give order that matter and people die, immediately contrasted with an incredibly beautiful display of pointless unison where people spent hours training to get their baton twirl just right in time with the other guy. Very different worlds all under the banner of The Military.

    In regards to JT Walsh, I think beyond acting as a bit of a Dues Ex Machina to an extent, he also acts as a contrast to Jessap. They graduated together did their tours together yet Jessap was promoted faster than him. So JT is on the same side of the military dichotomy as Jessap and is even of the same generation, yet he has kept his idealism (?) and moral compass in tact, which may also be seen as a reason for his lower success.

    Once again, well done on another great show, and for making me think about a film ive seen way too many times yet never thought of in this way before.

    Grassy Ass.

  6. Just a thought about the podcast...

    You mention several times Sorkin's "liberal bent" being very obvious in his work and hint that his work should be more balanced.

    Show me a John Wayne movie with the liberal viewpoint represented. For that matter, a Michael Bay film that isn't "Throw the entire military at them" first and nothing about "Maybe if we talk to them....".

    Filmmakers and writers are entitled to their point of view.

    1. I don't really think his work needs to be more balanced; I just think a viewer should be aware of any bias and watch accordingly. Same goes for John Wayne or John Milius (YIKES) or Michael Bay or anyone. I'm much more on Sorkin's side than John Wayne's.

  7. I think the tension in that climax, and the surprises, aren't WHAT Kaffee is attempting to do, but HOW. The what - get Jessep to admit to ordering the code red - is basically impossible. So the tension comes from us wondering how in the hell he's going to achieve this. If we didn't know that was the goal I think there would be LESS tension.

    He has three strategies and they're all surprises to us. The first - the airmen - turns out to be a bluff, and a bluff on the audience as well because they ultimately don't even get to testify. The second strategy is his "baseball bat" realisation about the fact that Santiago wasn't packed for his fabricated flight. Jessep crushes this and the tension ratchets up because at this point Kaffee appears out of ideas and he knows he should quit because if he pushes ahead it's all or nothing. And the third strategy is of course the "why give two orders" argument, and I always wonder about when exactly Kaffee came up with this (although honestly, he probably would/should have latched onto the two orders contradicting each other when he first heard about the phoney transfer in Cuba). There doesn't seem to be a moment in the scene where we see inspiration strike which I would have appreciated because I think the scene works better if he invents it on the spot, because if he had this ace up his sleeve before he began, does the moment of uncertainty before he decides to push ahead make sense?
    I don't know - I forgot the point I was failing to make. I just like the scene for the turns it takes - it's like a three-act movie within a movie. :)