Sunday, December 04, 2005

Gunner Palace (2005)

Gunner Palace (2005) [dir.Petra Epperlein & Michael Tucker]

You never know what you're getting into in a war doc -- there's always surprises. And there's always angles. This one, shot of members of the 2/3 FA in Baghdad -- a group of gunners doomed to daily security runs and insurgent raids -- is as open as i think one is likely to get with military coverage. And it comes across telling a story you wouldn't expect all right -- soldiers committed to doing a job, but not necessarily, dare i say rarely, committed to the mission.

They're boys, and they wanna go home.

Gunner Palace is one of those movies that's been on my list for a long time. I finally got a chance to sit down with it and not only see the movie but watch all the extras.

There is plenty of gunfire and explosions in the film -- but none are on film -- no blood, no death or dying. The firefights are just background noise. And that's the bulk of the daily life of a soldier there i suspect. And in that regard one is reminded of Jarhead -- a meditation on the inanity of waiting for fear.

The piece also reminds of Apocalypse Now in the simmering glances thrown at soldiers whenever their backs are turned, reminds of Good Morning Vietnam in the throngs of happy helpful people perhaps hiding assassins, reminds of Platoon in the sweet-faced young men playing Hendrix and riffing freestyle who turn into Dirty Harry whenever they enter a home.

The film is glimpses of evil lurking beneath the surface in striking ways, it is hatred hovering just above the surface, it is futility in every action, every word, but most surprisingly it is drenched with humanity. Who cannot imagine becoming evil when the time dictates, and crying about it later.

Be sure to watch the deleted scenes.

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