Gunner Palace Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein

Gunner Palace is proof positive that just because a journalist is embedded, it doesn't mean he goes very deep. Co-director/narrator Michael Tucker hasn't got much of a point of view other than "war sucks." And although his footage of soldiers in Iraq suggests that nobody really knows what the hell they're doing there, he's happy to offer the soldiers as unproblematically sympathetic and blows off considerations like a decent rationale for being there.

As it turns out his subjects — stationed in one of Uday Hussein's bombed-out palaces (hence the title) — are uniformly clueless, without a shred of insight into why they're there, just going with the flow when the orders come down. They're just there, they're waiting it out and their ultimate impact on the country is of no concern to them.

Tucker and co-director Petra Epperlein stare goggle-eyed at these men, occasionally interjecting with fatuous narration and vaguely shaking their heads at the horror of their plight while recording antics that make the whole enterprise look like a frat party with occasional shrapnel intake. In between various feeble attempts at rapping and shots of the troops enjoying R&R are chortling reminisces about a suspect weeping over threats of Gitmo and myriad blasé references to hapless folks sent off to Abu Ghraib.

Though there are some flimsy shots taken at "uncaring" government and officers, this is just the sort of thing you'd circulate to drum up support, though if you're looking for another reason to hate the war in Iraq, the creepy disconnect on offer here will give you plenty of ammunition. The film is Full Metal Jacket made more sinister through lack of irony, though the effect comes entirely in spite of itself. (Mongrel Media)