Ken Tucker of New York Magazine reviews Gunner Palace and gets it all wrong.
Watching Gunner Palace, I initially wondered whether the filmmakers, Michael Tucker (no relation) and Petra Epperlein, were like the people who used to spit on Vietnam veterans when they returned home. Their anger—in this case, about America’s invasion and subsequent “rebuilding” of Iraq—seemed gravely misplaced. Instead of criticizing the Bush-administration policies their film so clearly detests, Tucker and Epperlein train their cameras on the people involved in this engagement who have the least power. These are, of course, the soldiers, who are made to look, most of the time, like irresponsible fools.
What do we see? Brash soldiers, many not yet out of their teens, running rampant in the bombed-out remains of Uday Hussein’s Azimiya Palace. The 2/3 Field Artillery, known as “The Gunners,” spend their downtime swimming in the huge pool once owned by the deposed dictator’s son, golfing on his putting greens, and swilling Snapple while complaining about the lack of alcohol. At other times, they slam their Humvees into the gates of Iraqi citizens’ homes, barking out orders laced with obscenities, and then ridicule the quaking family members—so-called blacklisted Iraqis suspected of working with Hussein loyalists. We see U.S. soldiers making crude jokes about the barren country they’re stuck in...
If you read the review, you will find that Ken Tucker had the exact opposite reaction that I did at every single step of the way along the movie's path. He also has a minor socialist diatribe in the review about the poorly-educated masses serving in the military.
I would highly encourage you to see the movie and judge for yourself. As I said before, it's not pro-war and it's not anti-war, it's just about war.
And I think it's horrible (and talk about irresponsible) that Ken Tucker uses "the people who used to spit on Vietnam veterans when they returned home" opening line. If anything, you walk away wanting to remember the Gunners - every one of them - for their individuality and for their commitment to each other amidst the horrors, the surreality, the ambiguity and the crap of war.
Michael Tucker honors that sentiment in the film while staying true to what the troops each believe (and they all have different opinions just like any other group of Americans).
Perhaps if Ken Tucker got of his snobby, psuedo-intellectual, left-wing high horse, maybe he'd want to remember them, too.
Update 8:45PM CST: Looks like Blackfive is in the Movie City News - probably due to David Poland of The Hot Blog who takes issue with Ken Tucker's characterization of the movie - Poland does a much better job than I of pointing out the obvious miscues read by Ken Tucker.