Combustible Celluloid
With: Marty Walsh
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Frederick Wiseman
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 272
Date: 01/07/2021

City Hall (2020)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

You Are the Government

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Frederick Wiseman's four-hour and 32-minute documentary takes place within Boston's city government, and features mayor Marty Walsh in several scenes; he's the closest thing to an actual character in any Wiseman film that I can recall. Much of the film consists of meetings, but sandwiched between these are many other transporting, even touching sequences, from a trash truck amazingly smashing up large pieces of garbage to a sweet, lovable lesbian wedding. The film's length is an issue, and it requires a bit of work to see a bigger picture among all of Wiseman's seemingly unconnected sequences. But as City Hall comes together, it at least becomes clear that these public servants are truly interested in helping their constituents, trying to be as fair as possible to as many as possible, whether it's some small complaint about a traffic ticket, or whether it has to do with a bigger issue, like housing or climate change. It stands in stark contrast to the federal government of 2020, which seemed only interested in helping itself. (See Zipporah Films for more info.)

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