Monday, February 23, 2009

DVD: Buffalo Soldiers

Director: Gregor Jordan
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Ed Harris, Anna Paquin
Year made: 2001

Peace is hell

Once again we have a film depicting American soldiers running amok with cheerful disregard for the job they are hired to do. Germany 1989: the Berlin Wall is about to fall, crumbling like the discipline of the US troops stationed there...

Gregor Jordan’s Buffalo Soldiers plays like a traditional black comedy with the added zest of political satire. Phoenix is company clerk Ray Elwood with the self-invented job of facilitating the barrack’s drug habit while partaking in whatever wheeler dealing on the side he can manage to maintain the lifestyle he has forged for himself in the army.

When new sergeant Robert Lee (Scott Glenn) arrives, things get trickier as Elwood simultaneously tries to date Lee’s daughter and slip one last big score under his nose. The ensuing story strays from the convictions of its creators, leaving you with the sense that they lost sight of their core and followed something a little less rebellious and a little more conventionally subversive.

One might have hoped for a commentary from the director on a smaller film like this but no such luck. The Sundance Channel’s ‘Anatomy Of A Scene’ piece, while focusing on the rampaging tank scene, provides more than enough detail about the production to entertain the grey matter. It includes contributions from key collaborators and makes up for the disappointing behind-the-scenes featurette.

Film: 3 stars
Extras: 2 stars

Special features:
• Sundance ‘Anatomy Of A Scene’ featurette (20 mins)
• ‘Buffalo Soldiers: Behind The Scenes’ featurette (5 mins)

If you like this why not try...

Black comedy and war go together like Bush and war: Catch-22 is the classic example.

This review first appeared in DVD Review #63


Unknown said...

I totally dig this film! That said, I do agree that the Anna Paquin subplot is weak, and they probably pulled their punches a bit.

I'll have to check it out again, but I recall finding the stabbing scene at the end wonderfully disturbing.