Tigerland

Could you imagine ever hearing the words "Dogma 95" and "Joel Schumacher" together in a serious sentence? But this is Schumacher's Dogma 95 film — unofficial, of course — and the stripped-down production give a disturbing sense of immediacy to an otherwise fairly conventional story about boys being prepared for war. In accordance with Dogma's...read more

Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
Rating:

Could you imagine ever hearing the words "Dogma 95" and "Joel Schumacher" together in a serious sentence? But this is Schumacher's Dogma 95 film — unofficial, of course — and the stripped-down production give a disturbing sense of immediacy to an

otherwise fairly conventional story about boys being prepared for war. In accordance with Dogma's bare-bones aesthetic (which Schumacher encountered while promoting 8MM in Europe), the film was shot on location in 28 days, using 16-mm stock; it relies heavily on hand-held cinematography,

available lighting and direct sound. The result is a riot of swimming grain and blown-out images — it really does look like a guerrilla documentary, particularly since the talented cast is composed almost entirely of unknown faces. Set in 1971 — the year co-screenwriter Ross Klavan

served in the Army Reserves — it follows a batch of recruits as they finish infantry training, which culminates in a week of simulated battles in "Tigerland," an artificial war zone in the Louisiana swamps. Given Klavan's real-life experiences, the script is surprisingly conventional,

populated by characters who could have been lifted from a Hollywood WWII epic: The idealistic writer (Matthew Davis), the country bumpkin (Thomas Guiry), the small-town boy trying to prove his manhood (Clifton Collins, Jr.), the natural-born killer(Shea Whigham), and the decent guy (Russell

Richardson) who just wants to come home alive. Even charismatic Bozz (Colin Farrell), the disenchanted rebel who rejects the rules, rituals and gung-ho flagwaving, is a familiar figure; he just gets to rebel more openly, given the receptive ears of his fellow Vietnam-era soldiers — even raw

recruits know of the My Lai massacre. But that doesn't negate the movie's impact, nor does the fact that other movies (including FULL METAL JACKET, APOCALYPSE NOW and STREAMERS) cover much of the same ground.

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