As a bit of escapist relaxation I've been watching Generation Kill
a HBO miniseries about the recent invasion of Iraq. It follows an embedded reporter for Rolling Stone
magazine. He's riding with a Marine reconnoissance battalion for the first forty days of the invasion. Written and produced by David Simon and Ed Burns (can they put a foot wrong?) who also did The Wire
, it's non-pretentious, clear cinema. Askewing the larger political issues surrounding the invasion it focuses on the Marine institution as it fights its way through Iraq and into Baghdad. I liked the way the series exposed the way leadership worked in the battalion. The importance of morale, the survival of incompetence and the way personality permeates even the heat of battle. It's almost as Burns and Simon are saying life is about bigger things then you can understand, small human interactions and institutional systems, unless you die you can't step outside that three-way vortex.