Ex Libris: The New York Public Library

Ex Libris: The New York Public Library, the 41st documentary feature by Frederick Wiseman, bears a close resemblance to its subject. It’s huge (197 minutes) and incredibly varied, with something new and interesting popping up every time you turn the corner. And as with a public library, the sheer magnitude of the movie can make you a little drowsy. Wiseman is a master editor, capable of sustaining a documentary for two, three, or even four hours, but compared, for instance, to his 1997 masterpiece Public Housing, which also ran about 200 minutes, the new film can feel static and self-indulgent, the work of an octogenarian (born in 1930) who thinks he’s earned the right to relax and enjoy himself. Fortunately you can catch 40 winks in a darkened theater and no one will be any the wiser; if you sleep in the library, they’ll throw you out. Continue reading>>