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Sometimes this hyperlinked world yields great benefits: a friend tells me he saw a great list of movie quotes (AFI), on that list I stumble across “You want to know the truth? You can’t handle the truth!” and am immediately captured by the idea that I have not see “A Few Good Men” for a decade. And the great surprise when you visit it today is: it looks crazily modern! As the setting is mostly on military campuses or in courtrooms, it is completely timeless in an East Coast way. The uniforms are all “fagotty navy” anyway (in the words of Tom Cruise’s character), and the hair cuts are uniform marine style. When the drama evolves, it does so as freshly as it did 20 years ago when the film came out. An unconventional take on the courtroom drama, not just because of the military setting, but also because it is clear who did it. We see it. What’s at stake for the lawyers is allow their clients to come out as being subjected to an order – and the way the jury finding at the end resolves this is actually perfect, a tale of morale and responsibility. The acting is… interesting: an over-the-top Tom Cruise, paired with Demi Moore, who is not a particularly good actress, but has a nice raunchy voice, reminding me of the Sopranos psychiatrist, only less sexy. The film plays the big absence very well, too: in a rather ill-placed opening scene, we see Jack Nicholson briefly interact with his disciples at Guantanamo Bay base, but then we only see him again in the last 15 minutes of the movie. Yet he lingers around the story, people are scared of him, and owe him great respect for the regime he has established. And then he comes on… half-asleep, outrageously arrogant in his controlled marine demeanour, with this arrogance in particular digging his own grave. He is brilliant and witty, and has some excellent lines written for him (“Has was in danger” – “Great danger?” – “Is there another kind?”… and of course “You can’t handle the truth!”, his lengthy final rambling about the walls people like himself have to protect from the negligence of the others). This is a fabulous movie by Rob Reiner, one of the kind woerth coming back to at least once every  decade.

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