1989. The Berlin Wall is about to fall, and the world is about to be made safe for the new world order. But outside of Stuttgart, West Germany, at Theodore Roosevelt Army Base, Specialist Ray Elwood of the 317th Supply Battalion is about to find his own cold war turn white hot. Elwood's a lovable rogue, a conscript who's managed to turn his military servitude into a blossoming network of black market deals, more out of boredom than ambition. Officially, there's his day job as battalion secretary to the inept but caring Commander Wallace Berman. On the side, there's everything from selling the locals stolen Mop'N'Glo to cooking heroin for the base's ruthless head of Military Police, Sgt. Saad. When a new top sergeant arrives, with the avowed intention of cleaning the base up, Elwood thinks the new blood is nothing he can't handle, especially after he lays eyes on the top's daughter, rebellious Robyn. But that was before he figured in the $5 million in stolen arms that just landed on ... Written by
The end credits include the citation: 'The red cross emblem is an international symbol of neutral protection during armed conflicts, and its use is restricted by law. The purposes for which the red cross emblem is used by the characters in this film are clearly improper. The filmmakers wish to stress their support for proper use of the emblem, which has saved millions of lives throughout the world'. See more »
Ich Bin Ein Arschloch
Music by Andreas Schmidt, Marc Zimmerman, Rudi Naomi, Lyrics by Andreas Schmidt
Published by Songs United Publishing/Fab Squad Publishing, Edition El Cheapo Grande (p) 2000 Vielklang Musicproduktion GmbH
Performed by Prollhead
From the album "Neue Alte" released on Dröönland Productions EFA 07906-2 See more »
over-hyped for it's anti-american military commentary, which it isn't...
Some films just suffer from bad luck, and `Buffalo Soldiers' is one of them. Not that the movie is all that bad, nor all that terrific; it just deals with a subject that Americans might not be comfortable about today: a less-than-glowing depiction of the American military.
The film made its debut at the Toronto Film Festival, three days before Sept 11, 2001, under great fanfare. It was billed as being a dark satirical look at the military, but after the attacks on 9/11, its future was buried. Now, almost two years later, `Buffalo Soldiers' is finally being released, but it's not clear that the climate will be any more accommodating.
The movie starts by presenting a criminal subculture operating among U.S. soldiers stationed in West Germany just before the fall of the Berlin wall. The satirical billing is merely a backdrop for the film, and it does present just about everyone rather hyperbolically. Joaquin Phoenix plays Ray Elwood, a la Radar O'Reilly from MASH. He is the company clerk for a U.S. supply base, making most decisions for his oblivious colonel to rubber stamp. Like Milo Minderbinder from Catch-22, he goes about his normal routine of making money and duping the system, but in this case, Elwood is a small-time drug dealer who sometimes dabbles in black market booty. Things turn on him quickly when he happens across some heavy weaponry, and his plan for unloading the equipment puts him way over his head, getting him into far more trouble than what he can handle as the lightweight and inexperienced paper-pusher that he is. By the time the plot line is established, the backdrop of satire is abandoned, witty observations undone, and philosophical quips erased.
Indeed, the true essence of the film lies beyond the plot, but it doesn't go as far as it tagline philosophy: `Where there is peace, the warlike man attacks himself.', a quote from Nietzsche, whose keen observation was the original inspiration for the film. At most, `Buffalo Soldiers' depicts how people behave when they get in over their heads, and only a dash of commentary on anything military or philosophical.
As for the controversy around American soldiers doing bad things, it would be a stretch to feel this is commentary on the good ol' US of A. Only those looking to pick a fight would find any form of offense or unpatriotic flavor to this film. Still, all one has to do is suggest the notion, and people will simply adopt that view anyway, regardless of what's on screen. Ironically, that's the movie's fault, not the public's. If the movie were better at delivering a more profound message - one that it clearly wanted to make - or if the story line were multi-dimensional, rather than a straightforward crime caper, people would easily overlook its superficial qualities. To be sure, Joaquin Phoenix does an excellent job at portraying a frat boy who doesn't take the army seriously, and who learns the ropes the hard way, just before he gets busted down to hell.
In the end, `Buffalo Solders' is entertaining, has a splash of romance, and is certainly a good enough movie in its own right, but is not the cynical, anti-war, anti-patriotic movie that people will be told it is. Oddly, the film's perception may be disproportionately diminished and reviewed poorly because of the attention it's getting, but it doesn't deserve undue praise either.
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