directed by Petra Epperlein & Michael Tucker
by Walter Chaw Some of the footage is interesting and some of the quotes are poignant, but Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein's documentary Gunner Palace is hamstrung by embarrassingly trite narration and a lack of any sort of unifying theme in its editing. The film follows the United States 2/3 Field Artillery group--"Gunners"--as they take up residence in Uday Hussein's palace of earthly delights (redubbing the mansion "Gunner Palace" in the grunts' rough vernacular) in a bombed-out Baghdad during the months following U.S. occupation. More old ladies and shell-shocked children than hard-bitten insurgents are terrorized over the course of Gunner Palace, but what should have been an unbearable look at life under wartime and the constant threat of betrayal or ambush opens with a tone-setting Tucker voiceover that, with the callous defensiveness of a perspective-challenged, embittered vet, derides the audience for liking reality television like "Survivor". "Survive this," he says, spitting like a bona fide jarhead in the face of all us lefty wimps who've made the mistake of trying to learn something without getting shot at.