"Occupation: Dreamland" is like a $5 billion production of "Waiting for Godot," starring the 82nd Airborne.
Ian Olds and Garrett Scott -- two intrepid documentarians with a feeling for lower middle-class life -- embedded for six weeks in the winter of 2004 with the fabled paratroop division, specifically 1st Squad, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in a truck stop between Baghdad and the Jordanian border called Fallujah. They learned anew what every generation seems to learn, then forget: War sucks, not merely because it's dangerous but because it's endless, boring, banal. The boys of 1st Squad hardly saw any action -- that happened after they left: The Marines relieved the Airborne, and the fighting got hot and heavy and the casualties rose dramatically.
What the two filmmakers recorded was the pure existential sameness of the day-by-day stuff private soldiers endure when deployed. Rocket-propelled grenades can come in at almost any moment, as can gunfire, but it almost never happens. Nobody dies. The boys just go for their crummy walks through a crummy town where they hate everyone and everyone hates them back. The movie ultimately skews left -- is that a surprise? -- by crudely playing the hype of re-enlistment jabber from some earnest junior officer against the gimlet-eyed realpolitik of the Spec 4s.
You love the filmmakers, though, for their open love and respect of the young men, who seem decent and chipper and, no matter their politics, more than willing to respect the order and traditions of service.