Techno babble
June 4, 2014 2:11 PM   Subscribe

I like movies/shows that are heavy on the jargon and the fast-talking. Scenes of professionals in crisis that don't bother to fill the audience in on what's going on. Think secret-service operations on the West Wing, air traffic controllers, military maneuvers, television control rooms, Le Carre's espionage slang, etc. What movies/tv shows will I enjoy? Note: It doesn't have to be military or necessarily violent. I like the thrill that comes from the fast talking and the quick decisions and such.
posted by Think_Long to Media & Arts (25 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
You'd love In The Loop which is everything you describe and also very funny.
posted by nkknkk at 2:17 PM on June 4, 2014 [4 favorites]

I've really enjoyed the sort of contemporary-noir police/detective patter in the seasons of Luther that I've seen.

The recent American take on House of Cards does a decent political take on this as well, and it's my impression that the original UK miniseries is even better on that front. Veep isn't far off in the same vein, though it's more darkish comedy vs. HoC's bleak nastiness.
posted by cortex at 2:22 PM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by lalex at 2:24 PM on June 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

The Battlestar Gallatica reboot has lots of jargon most of which is assumed that you can figure out from context.
posted by mmascolino at 2:26 PM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have you seen the M*A*S*H movie? It's like that in some sections.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:27 PM on June 4, 2014

Seconding nkknkk's recommendation, and adding its American cousin Veep. Silicon Valley has been pretty good too with fast-moving techspeak; the first series just finished on HBO.

On preview: cortex beat me to the Veep punch. Trust him, he knows his televisual onions.
posted by peteyjlawson at 2:27 PM on June 4, 2014

Primer is a movie involving a fairly unspectacular (visually, at least) form of time travel, and has some pretty impenetrable technobabble which doesn't fill you in.

Sports Night, like the other Aaron Sorkin stuff mentioned above, has his usual brand of jargon-exchanges and pediconferencing. His more recent series, Studio 66, has more of the same, but didn't work for audiences. (Neither, I suppose, did Sports Night, which was only 1 or maybe 2 seasons.)

I'll second Battlestar Galatica, which has an extremely thrilling example in its first series episode, "33," and Brick, which is set in a regular (well, California regular) high school, but the movie is a pastiche of Ray Chandler (etc.), and very effectively so.
posted by Sunburnt at 2:48 PM on June 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

In addition to In The Loop and Veep, you might also check out the UK series The Thick of It, which was the ancestor of them both.

And The Wire, while not always tense, is perhaps the best exemplar of "not bothering to fill in the audience on what's going on".
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:57 PM on June 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

Betas is a comedy set in the Silicon Valley startup world that has this sort of fast-talking "we assume you already know what a VC is" style.
posted by Sara C. at 2:59 PM on June 4, 2014

Some medical dramas might work for you. House did fast-talking and jargon pretty well at times, for example.
posted by catalytics at 2:59 PM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by rhizome at 3:41 PM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can't beat the original technobabble: Star Trek. Now in four flavors!
posted by mitschlag at 3:44 PM on June 4, 2014

Can't believe i'm the first to recommend Glengarry Glen Ross . Mamet's style of techno babble is present in any of his works, but this gem is particularly up your alley it seems.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:01 PM on June 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

Apollo 13 has always been my favorite movie about professionals in crisis.
posted by javelina at 4:12 PM on June 4, 2014

If you like figuring out what is going on, you may like Hunted. They don't fill you in on anything, but don't talk a ton either. The first season came out on DVD recently. (On the other hand, if you prefer the babble, something like Bones might be better.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 4:14 PM on June 4, 2014

posted by mbrubeck at 4:23 PM on June 4, 2014

Also The Newsroom (created by Aaron Sorkin, feels very similar to his The West Wing).
posted by mbrubeck at 4:26 PM on June 4, 2014

Darren Aronofsky's film "Pi" has a pretty large quotient. This trailer try's to impose a sense of order on the film, but is only "okay" at delivering the flavor.
posted by cleroy at 4:54 PM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

How strict are you on "movies/shows"? You can get actual audio from the trading floor during the 6 May 2010 flash crash and the cockpit when U.S. Airways 1549 landed in the Hudson, and Southwest landing at the wrong airport. Actually, the FAA releases a lot of cockpit audio and radio traffic from various exciting times, and there are websites that collect GA radio traffic for pilots to practice on.
posted by d. z. wang at 7:30 PM on June 4, 2014

The new AMC show Halt and Catch Fire may check at least some of those boxes. They do seem to get a bit expy sometimes, but on the other hand it's a pretty fast paced show and it's certainly full of jargon about the early days of PCs.
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:09 PM on June 4, 2014

His Girl Friday (1940) is famous for its fast dialog. Here's the whole thing.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:47 PM on June 4, 2014

The Sandbaggers.
posted by zamboni at 10:05 PM on June 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yes, a thousand times The Sandbaggers. This is the best spy series that ever lived (better luck next time, Spooks), and it's not an action show-- barely 15% action by weight, if that.

The guy who created The Sandbaggers, Ian Mackintosh, also had an excellent naval series called Warship which qualifies-- a wide variety of plots from what I've seen (only 4 episodes I've found online), but it fits the bill. Warship is a sort of "proceedings of the Leander-class frigate HMS Hero," and was filmed with considerable cooperation of the RN and RAN, which even re-numbered a couple Leander frigates to play Hero while they filmed the series.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:42 PM on June 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

The Bourne Identity and it's sequels are very good with the high-tension spy lingo and technobabble.
posted by briank at 3:01 AM on June 5, 2014

If medical jargon does it for you, maybe try the short-lived 2004-2005 NBC procedural Medical Investigation, which is about a team solving weird public health crises. (They should be the CDC, but in the show they are NIH.) It's been a long time since I saw it, but I remember enjoying the medical jargon, and it was certainly fast-paced.
posted by snorkmaiden at 2:37 PM on June 5, 2014

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