Buffalo Soldiers

Very black comedy about a group of soldiers in 1980s West Berlin, who are into all the trouble they can make for themselves, from stealing supplies and selling them on the black market, to processing and distributing heroin. Joaquin Phoenix puts in a great performance as Ray Elwood, chief clerk to the base commander. Elwood is a corrupt wheel-greaser who finds his comfortable enterprise spinning out of control when he tries to deal in weapons instead of cleaning liquid. The top brass puts arrow-straight war hero Sergeant Lee (Scott Glenn, doing grizzled and menacing) in place to try and clean up the base. Elwood falls in love with his daughter, which gives the Sergeant even more reason to stomp down hard on him. None of the characters are particularly likeable, but you end up feeling sympathetic towards them nevertheless. It’s a caustic and wry look at the military, and how peacetime can sometimes be no better than war.