6 September 2013 4:13 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

On the surface, “At Berkeley” hardly breaks new ground: Frederick Wiseman’s 38th institution-centered documentary presents yet another unblinking, very long-haul study of a hydra-headed organization, in this case the eponymous U. of California campus, an account so austerely democratic in its gaze that no one, from the highest-ranking figure to the lowliest freshman, is ever formally identified. And yet, the result is one of Wiseman’s best, a summation of sorts of a career’s worth of principled filmmaking from a director in his ninth decade. Pic will teach class at niche venues and on upscale channels worldwide.

As usual, Wiseman refuses to provide audiences with any contextualizing information through anything so vulgar as subtitle identification or talking-head exegesis about the institution at hand. Presumably he’s working off the fair-enough assumption that the culturally literate viewers likely to be watching this will already know (or at least know »


- Leslie Felperin

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