With the latest entry in our Lockdown Streaming Survival Guide I decided to adopt a different approach. Instead of looking at one particular movie or TV show, I thought it would be fun to explore the works of one of my favourite writer/directors, and where you can find them. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the King of Dialogue... Mr Aaron Sorkin.
Don't forget to check out the other entries in our Lockdown Streaming Survival Guide, you can find them all by clicking here.
Let's kick things off at the beginning, with the legendary adaptation of Sorkin's stage play; A Few Good Men. Directed by Rob Reiner and based on the work of Sorkin's sister with the US Navy's JAG Corp, the movie is most famous for that intense verbal slanging match between Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, however it's still one of the best courtroom dramas out there. Even on a rewatch it still makes for an intense and exciting watch.
Cruise's cheeky, laid back, rather un-military approach to everything is a lot of fun, especially the way it contrasts with all of the other performances. There may be the odd cringe moment - like that awkward moment where Dawson (Wolfgang Bodison) salutes Kaffee (Cruise), stating "there's an officer on deck" - but what Hollywood movie doesn't feature some form of cheese. At least it doesn't fall into the trap of OTT uber patriotism, instead focusing on the case and how such a tragic event could even happen.
A Few Good Men is available to stream on Now TV/Sky Movies (until 28th February 2023).
Sorkin later reunited with Rob Reiner for his first foray into politics. The American President (which recently celebrated its 25th Anniversary) is a touching comedy, drama, romance, and an optimistic view of politics and those who work in that despised domain. Despite being light-hearted and optimistic in its approach, Reiner and Sorkin aren't afraid to challenge certain issues that still affect the US and other countries today - like gun ownership.
I particularly enjoy the scene where Michael J. Fox gives the leader of the free world a reality check with a very passionate argument... too bad this doesn't happen in the real world every now and then! Not to mention the scene in which said world leader struggles to order flowers. Michael Douglas and Annette Benning are great together as the lead couple; her fish out of water performance goes perfectly with his casual, 'I'm just a regular guy' style. Too bad then that this charming couple aren't given a better adversary to go up against, with Richard Dreyfuss' Senator Rumson being criminally under utilised.
You can find The American President on Netflix.
The West Wing seems like a natural progression from The American President for Sorkin, it's that same optimistic look at politics as the good democrats fight to do what is right. Given the shit show that's been going on in recent US politics, The West Wing represents the perfect form of escapism - probably more so now than ever before.
Martin Sheen has been promoted from Chief of Staff to President, and he's surrounded by a quirky group of intelligent and caring staff. And despite being a little dated, it's just as entertaining as the day it first aired. It also happens to depict the perfect combination of the famous Sorkin dialogue and walking through corridors, hallways, offices, and generally anywhere people tend to walk.
All seven seasons of The West Wing are currently available in the UK on All 4.
After achieving great success with fictional political dramas, it makes sense that for his next project Sorkin would try his hand at developing something based on a true story. The story of Congressman Charlie Wilson and his efforts to help end the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan is definitely an interesting one. It's got it all - as they say - action, drama, espionage, comedy, scandal, and the cool stylings of the 1980's, not to mention a few exploding helicopters.
Tom Hanks brings a cheeky but loveable charm to the Congressman, whose diplomatic skills were vital to this Cold War approach to ending an occupation. He and Julia Roberts are great together as these two people who share a common goal, but come at it from slightly different angles. But it's Philip Seymour Hoffman who steals the show as the abrasive but dedicated CIA agent Gust Avrakotos, a man who's career would probably have been a lot further along had he learned how to get along with others. Some might say he's the perfect character for the King of dialogue to write for. This strange trio must find a way to supply the Afghan Mujahideen with weapons, supplies and training without the Soviets learning of US involvement and/or triggering World War 3. A scheme that will require them to enlist the help of certain foreign allies, including Egypt, Israel and Pakistan.
Despite depicting Wilson as a hero, Sorkin doesn't shy away from the man's faults. This includes his excessive drinking, womanising, and hints at his cocaine habit, which came close to landing him in hot water. Charlie Wilson's War also serves as a cautionary tale, with a few subtle hints at the American's lack of interest in helping to rebuild Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal being a factor in the rise of Al Qaeda and the events of 9/11.
Charlie Wilson's War is the only Sorkin project available to stream for free on Amazon Prime Video.
Which brings us to what is possibly Sorkin's best work to date. The Social Network simultaneously follows the rise of Facebook and the resulting lawsuits. Who would of thought a movie about Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg could be so good? Well I certainly didn't! But I'm happy to be proven wrong, in this case. The meteoric rise of Facebook and the effects it had on those involved are fascinating. This is in no small part thanks to the pairing of Sorkin with master director David Fincher, not to mention their choice for the lead role.
Jesse Eisenberg is perfect as the socially-awkward, genius, nerd - maybe a little too perfect given he's struggled to shake it since. It also helps that he's surrounded by an incredible supporting cast (watching Armie Hammer do Sorkin dialogue with himself is a particular treat). Between these incredible performances, a fantastic script, and that incredible score, Zuckerberg's rise and slight fall, as he goes from being the computer whizz to the computer whizz billionaire in charge of Facebook is brought to life in gripping fashion.
The Social Network is available on Netflix, as well as Now TV/Sky Movies (until 30th June 2021).
Moneyball is another movie that when described doesn't sound all that interesting - a baseball team manager uses statistics in an attempts to build a winning team by acquiring cheaper players - but add to that description the fact that Aaron Sorkin wrote it, and you have my attention. Sounds crazy I know, and it may not be Sorkin's greatest work, but Moneyball is actually a very interesting movie to watch, even if I didn't understand half of what the characters were saying.
There may not be a lot of actual baseball in the movie, but it's what goes on behind the scenes that makes a story like this so interesting. It's an eye-opening look at the perils of a career in pro-sports. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill work very well together as the guys attempting something new and controversial. In fact, the resistance they faced from colleagues - to the uninitiated anyway - is quite astounding. Philip Seymour Hoffman is great as one of the sources of this resistance, if a little under-used.
Moneyball is available on Netflix and Now TV (until 30th June 2022).
Much like The West Wing and politics, The Newsroom is Sorkin's idealistic look at a cable news channel. We follow the staff of Atlantis Cable News (ACN) as they try to report the news in a way that's both informative and entertaining. Naturally they encounter just about every obstacle imaginable in said quest, but it is interesting to get an idea of the rigmaroles journalists must go through in the pursuit of their craft. Sorkin cleverly used real world events to give the show a grounded feel, while the antics of the staff bring some hilarity to proceedings, in a way only Sorkin can.
Despite not being one of Sorkin's most celebrated works, I actually really enjoy it. Season 1 got things off to a terrific start, and things only got better with season 2. But then the show was brought to a close in the worst way; with a lacklustre final season that's far too short. I thought the storylines were developing nicely, in many ways it felt like they were just getting started. So when rumours of a comeback started circulating back in 2019, I for one was excited at the prospect, but unfortunately it was not to be. At least we can still enjoy the three seasons we have.
The Newsroom seasons 1-3 are available on Now TV/Sky (until 5th August 2021).
Zuckerberg has had his turn, now it's time for the man at the top of Apple to have his story told. Michael Fassbender brings Steve Jobs to life over the course of three big days in a 14 year period, charting everything from the rise of the company to his relationship with his daughter, and the advances in technology. Fassbender manages to find the right balance between genius and arsehole, and despite some questionable hygiene, he brings a pretty believable depiction of Jobs to the screen. The unbelievable comes in the form of the loyalty his colleagues/employees have for him.
In choosing to focus on these three days, these three product unveilings, we get to see Jobs at his very best and his very worse. A comparison between the man on stage and the man behind the scenes. Maybe it's the way Sorkin - along with director Danny Boyle - tell the story, but even after seeing him at his absolute worst, you can still appreciate his genius. You probably wouldn't want to be his friend though, or his colleague, employee, relative, neighbour or acquaintance. That said, if they made a sequel, showcasing more of Apple's big product unveilings, I'd definitely give it a watch.
Steve Jobs is available on Netflix.
Which brings us to the last of Aaron Sorkin's projects available to stream... The Trial of The Chicago 7. Marking Sorkin's second attempt at directing, he delivers a courtroom drama that cleverly tells the story of the riots surrounding the 1968 Democratic Convention, whilst also holding up a mirror to the world today.
This is quite easily one of the more shocking stories that Sorkin has brought to the screen. What went on before and during this trial beggars belief, less surprising is the fact that the trial was instigated by the Nixon administration.
Sporting a magnificent ensemble cast and plenty of the writer/director's signature dialogue, Sorkin's return to the courtroom drama is monumental, by far one of the highlights of 2020. You can check out our full review by clicking here.
The Trial of The Chicago 7 is available on Netflix.
Well there you have it folks, that's all of Aaron Sorkin's work - the ones available to stream anyway - and where to find them. The man who gives good dialogue can apparently make just about any subject interesting - even baseball - and I can't imagine a better way of spending lockdown than seeing him do it.
You can also rent most of Aaron Sorkin's movies on either Amazon Prime Video or iTunes (tip: they're cheaper on Amazon).
What are your thoughts on the works of Aaron Sorkin? Do you have a favourite movie and/or TV show? Leave a comment below or find us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.