Full Battle Rattle

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This film has to be seen to be believed. An American military base in the middle of the Mojave desert that is actually a training camp for troops before they go over to Iraq–a live simulation with Iraqi villages, actors, scenarios and special effects. Actually, a great idea in some ways. The fact it ends up like a Kubrick film (or Hamlet) shows once again how Americans are great at conceptualizing, but not so good at follow through. The idea of exposing soldiers (even in a staged way) to what the issues, culture and problems of the country they are about to inhabit (invade?) is sound. The mistake that is made is that no one actually talks over with the soldiers, their well-intentioned (and we know where that leads!) Commander, or (obviously prejudiced) Information Officer what they have done wrong, so they can correct it before they go to, say, Iraq, NEVER HAPPENS!! Thus negating the billion dollars plus the military has spent on the program. Ah, the dangers of half-assed psychology! It only gets worse, when, as each new deadly decision gets made, they decide to to bribe the native population with cash (for causing the deaths of family members–an American legal tradition!) and a new water plant. The arrogance of more soldiers than I would like to think about in this film (re: Generation Kill–which I love and certainly makes a case for for superior officers being killed by their own (much saner) men) makes you ashamed to be an American. Sigh. But don’t worry, it’s OK because everyone (fake) dies in the end!

So let’s talk about the filmmakers and their Pacific Northwest connections. Tony Gerber (Producer/Director) worked with Matthew Barney on DRAWING RESTRAINT 9 and CREMASTER IV. (Both he and fellow Producer/Director Jesse Moss have extensive and amazing filmmaking resumes.)¬† Jesse Moss worked with Oscar-winning documentary director Barbara Kopple (Harlan County U.S.A. and American Dream), a very popular director with cinephiles in the PNW. For the making of this film they did all their own photography, and sound (and I assume their own catering, janitorial and best boy work!). They chose to film, one in the American camp, and one in the Iraqi village, for 3 weeks. It is truly an impressive (and surprisingly neutral, which makes it MORE effective) accomplishment.

Did you know Northwest Film Forum Theatres are AIR CONDITIONED?!!

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One Response to “Full Battle Rattle”

  1. Marc Says:

    Ah the dangers of half-assed pyschology indeed! This
    sounds like a tough film on the pyshce, and I have to
    wonder what Kubrick himself would have thought of a
    military base of this “conception”. Paths of Glory and
    Full Metal Jacket aside, this film sounds like an intriguing
    look at modern military training tactics, whether they’re
    accurate or not. Effective or not, I would hope our military
    is put through scenarios and situations that prepare them
    for what they are about to do…this isn’t a McDonald’s
    afterall! This is WAR!! My only concern is why haven’t
    we, as a species, figured out war is unhealthy for us,
    like sugar and nicotine, and we need to avoid it absolutely!
    I think I even have a Dr. Seuss book that understands
    that! Great review, Norma666!

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