On the one hand, you have the Panamians, but Frederick Wiseman shows them as the Americans see them: from a distance. They are poor and of no particular interest to them even if Panama is ... See full summary »
One of Wiseman's 3-1/2 hour opuses, this one settling in to the Idaho State Legislature for another round of inquisitive and patient observation. Two juxtapositions stood out in particular. One began with a confrontation between a state senator and a Latino man arguing for immigrants' rights. The two become stuck on a long loop of assertion and have nothing resembling a conversation. The senator's message is predictable. Several scenes later we see a bunch of little Mexican girls doing a hat dance in the atrium of the legislature - a security guard looks down at it and almost imperceptibly shakes his head. The second comes toward the very end, when there is a debate on whether to pass a motion opposing same-sex marriage. The motion is defeated, with each person giving their reasons, and with rationales almost exclusively based on procedural precedent and differing priority. This scene comes between a quiet conference between the senate speaker and two businessmen coming to seek advice, and a prayer-and-bagpipe ceremony for a deceased colleague, and this plus this plus this made me think that Wiseman was proposing a new wrinkle on the church-and-state conundrum - for these people, the forms and practice of government ARE their religion.
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