Thursday, December 6, 2012

50 Reasons I love Aaron Sorkin

Okay, make that ten reasons. I don't really have all day, much as I'd like to be a lady of leisure now and again.

Most of us are familiar with the name Aaron Sorkin. There are a few folks living under rocks somewhere who don't watch tv or go to the movies. (I guess I'm limiting this post to those folks who receive broadcast/cinema offerings from the USA. Just wanted to clarify that.) So to introduce Mr. Sorkin to the geologically-housed minority, here's a man who loves words. Happily, he's chosen a career that permits him to go play with his passion - he writes the most amazing programs, and also produces them on a regular basis.

I first fell under his spell along with millions of others when I got to visit The West Wing. For seven seasons I remained entranced, living week to week in President Bartlet's Oval Office, bemoaning Sam's departure to Orange County, adoring Toby's twins and crying at the loss of the truly awesome John Spencer (Leo, the Chief of Staff). The style, language and catchphrases have become part of my family's "dialect", those little expressions that drop into our conversations now and again and mean so much to us. Unless anyone else is a big fan, they mean nothing. Like "What's next?" "Liberal conservatism" and "Mother Theresa with first strike capabilities". Not to mention "Their names are Eric and Troy", "I'm going to be known as soft on turkeys" and other wonderful comments. If you are a follower, you'll know the episodes.

Originally broadcast on NBC television
So reason 1 = The West Wing.

Reason 2 = Lord John Marbury, one of the most picturesque of the picturesque characters. And a Brit to boot. (Memorable line "Abigail. My God. Those breasts...")

Reason 3 = CJ Gregg (played by the extraordinary Alison Janney) whose Press Secretary character was, by turns, eloquent, feminine, brilliant, savage and gentle.

Reason 4 = Everyone else in that cast. Crisp, clean, dialogue sharp enough to cut that Big Block of Cheese day to the bone. Brilliance.

Reason 5 = Moving away from the West Wing, but staying in the White House - The American President. 
I loved this movie and never realized it was an Aaron Sorkin piece. I should have, of course. And watching it again, post-West Wing, the similarities were clear. Once again the President (Michael Douglas) was brilliantly written and the entire cast of characters from the House to the Senate portrayed with acute accuracy. Kudos to Michael J Fox in this one, btw. Priceless.  Best line? "I'm Andrew Shepard and I AM the President." I defy anyone not to want to stand up and cheer at that one!!!

Reason 6 = Charlie Wilson's War. This was an intriguing movie that I really need to watch again. The first time around I was totally involved with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts' performances which - as always - were flawless. Ditto Philip Michael Hoffman. I almost missed the political thrust until the last two minutes. If you see this film, do NOT kill the DVD before the end. It is chilling.  Best moment? Okay, this is a girl thing, but it's Julia Roberts putting on mascara and separating her lashes with a pin!!! I remember my Mom doing that.

Reasons 7 and 8 = The Social Network and A Few Good Men. I'll admit that I haven't seen The Social Network yet. It's on my list. And it's been some years since I watched Nicholson complain that Tom Cruise couldn't handle the truth. So that's on the re-watch list too.  They're here as reasons, however, since - as a writer - I appreciate anyone who can continue to write brilliant material, whether movies, screenplays, theater or tv. These two films demonstrate that Sorkin can do just that.

The Newsroom - an original HBO series
Reason 9 = However, it's in the arena of politics where the (Sorry.) Today, while nursing a bit of a stomach bug, I tucked up on the couch and treated myself to a four episode marathon of THE NEWSROOM.  Oh. My. God.  He's back!!!  It's Sorkin at his sharpest, his funniest, and his most incisive. This time he takes on the media with every bit of his passion, spearing politics along the way and laughing at the collateral damage.  If you can see this series, watch it. If you know someone who can record it, go visit them and camp out on their couch. Bring popcorn. The cast is extraordinary and the plot as pointed today as it was during the events it portrays.

Reason 10 = Mr. Sorkin did what few tv shows have ever done. He made me cry. The episode entitled "Amen" - the last five minutes or so. Well, I teared up before I realized it. And that, folks, is being involved with a television show. And why these are the first ten reasons I'm a Sorkin fan. There are more, but it's getting late and I'm tired, so I'll save them for another time.

You know, I'd almost given up hope that programs like this were still around. They're certainly not on broadcast tv. I wish they were. Game of Thrones holds an awe-inspiring majesty all it's own and has me eagerly awaiting the DVD releases. Castle is a charmer and his lighthearted humor will always appeal. But Sorkin - ahh, he holds a special place in my heart. May you continue to write, continue to produce and continue to capture viewers like me. I'm a better writer thanks to your tutorials and your dialogue. I even forgot about the flu-bug!!!