Went to see a preview of Jarhead which is based on the book about Anthony Swofford’s experience of the first Iraqi war. It’s very very good and succeeds in doing all the macho war stuff in a frightening but very human way: there’s a scene when the Marines are waiting in the desert for the war to start and have taken to watching various Vietnam war films. During the helicopter attack in Apocalypse Now they all go apeshit singing and screaming along to Wagner. In the background you can see the film projected and the gooks getting the crap blown out of them. While this is a deeply disturbing scene you can completely identify with what’s going on.
The main reason I thought the film was better than the book was that so much of the story: basic training and Desert Shield was about boredom and repetition and while the film captures this in a rich visual way, the writing only captures this by being boring itself.
The desert is empty except for sky and sand with almost no sign on the enemy. This captures both the overwhelming technological superiority of the US forces in their ability to engage the enemy from a great distance and the sense that of this being an empty war about rhetoric and perceived rather than real threats. The film is beautifully edited by Walter Murch and shot Roger Deakins.
Also my wife who took me doesn’t normally like war films thought it was great.