Critic Manohla Dargis reviews Ex Libris: The New York Public Library: 'One of the greatest movies of Mr. Wiseman's extraordinary career'
The New York Times is praising Frederick Wiseman's latest documentary as one of the greatest of his storied career.
In her review published Wednesday, critic Manohla Dargis called Ex Libris: The New York Public Library "magnificent" and "deeply moving."
Wiseman "sweeps into atriums and down corridors, pauses in reading and meeting rooms, and lays bare this complex, glorious organism that is the democratic ideal incarnate," Dargis wrote.
Over many decades and movies, Mr. Wiseman's great subject has been institutions.
The 197-minute-long film, one of more than 40 Wiseman has directed in a career dating to 1967, begins a two-week run today (Wednesday) at Film Forum in New York. It opens September 22 in Los Angeles, Pasadena, California and Washington, DC (details here). Ex Libris premiered in competition at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month and screened at the Toronto International Film Festival last week.
"Mr. Wiseman never states outright what the library’s mission is; he doesn’t have to. It’s as clear as the recitations from the Declaration of Independence in one scene and in a passionate discussion of a racist textbook’s misrepresentation of the American slave trade in another," Dargis wrote in her review. "It is a soaring, Utopian mission in a documentary that builds with intellectual force and deep emotion as it shows, again and again, citizens — interested, questioning, seeking — joining together to listen to one another and to learn from one another."
Wiseman will be making several in-person appearances at upcoming screenings of Ex Libris. And on September 24, a restored version of his first documentary, Titticut Follies, will screen at select theaters as part of the second annual Arthouse Day. An interview with Wiseman conducted by filmmaker Wes Anderson will be shown in conjunction with Titticut Folies.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and Documentary.org.