Combustible Celluloid
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With: n/a
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Frederick Wiseman
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 143
Date: 10/26/2018

Monrovia, Indiana (2018)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Heartland Rate

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The great documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman returns with this look at a small town in America's heartland. It's presumably an attempt to find out what makes Trump supporters tick, though politics are rarely mentioned, and such an attempt would probably be futile anyway. Instead, Wiseman does what he does best, observing the residents of Monrovia doing what they do. There are city council meetings, peeks inside a gun shop and a tattoo parlor, and the film admires the crops of corn that seem to be the center of the town's business. The camera looks at a pizza parlor, and in a most disturbing moment, a veterinary clinic (where a dog undergoes surgery). As usual, there is no narration, are no issues tackled, and no arguments made one way or the other. Wiseman is the master of "fly-on-the-wall" filmmaking, getting his camera so close and so unobtrusive, that none of his subjects ever seem to be aware that he's even there. They just talk as if no camera were present. His selection of scenes paints a portrait of a small town, both dignified and respectful, but also a little depressing. Regardless, everyone in America should be watching Wiseman regularly; he's a national treasure.

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