Video maker Canaan Brumley took advantage of his day job as a barber at Camp Pendleton, California, to shoot this no-nonsense documentary of marine recruits being whipped into shape over 12 weeks. It's impossible to watch this without thinking of Frederick Wiseman's verite classic Basic Training (1971), and like Wiseman, Brumley dispenses with editorializing and talking heads, letting the story tell itself. Not much has changed in the past three decades: drill sergeants do their best to break down the recruits' sense of individual will and unleash their bloodlust. “Open up the chain saw!” shouts one during combat training. “Rage and aggression!” But Brumley is also admirably attentive to the more mundane aspects of camp life: one lengthy low-angle shot shows nothing but the men's feet in the shower, slapping around in their cheap flip-flops. 115 min.
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