Gunner Palace

Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker’s documentary about U.S. soldiers of the 2/3 Field Artillery, stationed at a luxurious palace built by Saddam Hussein, is the first comprehensive film account I’ve seen of the Iraq occupation from the perspective of the soldiers; essentially this is their film. Most of the bullshit comes from Donald Rumsfeld, and no commentary is needed to clarify its inadequacy. I’m uncomfortable with how some of the narrative and musical strategies contrive to evoke Apocalypse Now, especially considering the filmmakers’ relative lack of illusions about the war. There are many rap performances, and the occasional editorializing includes one soldier’s ridicule of their flimsy Humvee armor. The film records many raids of Iraqi houses to find weapons and weapon makers; few of them are successful, though we’re offhandedly informed that several suspects were arrested and sent to Abu Ghraib anyway. No wonder some of the locals throw rocks. PG-13, 86 min. Reviewed this week in Section 1. Century 12 and CineArts 6, Landmark’s Century Centre.

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