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12:15   4:00   7:45

Must End Thursday, October 12


Frederick Wiseman cracks open institutions: the military, the insane asylum, the high school, the police, the welfare system, the Paris Opera Ballet, the National Gallery of London, and now – in his 43rd film in 50 years - the New York Public Library, an institution eminently worthy of his immersive style. If you thought libraries are just repositories for books, you’re in for a big, wonderful surprise.  The NYPL owns (and makes accessible) millions of images; sponsors lectures by people like Patti Smith, Elvis Costello, and Ta-Nehisi Coates; circulates a growing collection of e-books; maintains a vast archive of materials not available online; and gives classes in digital technology. The magnificent Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (and 5th Avenue at 42nd Street) is the spine of the film, but equally vital is the role of branch libraries that act as community centers for civic life. “Libraries are the pillars of our democracy” says Toni Morrison – as Wiseman’s opus, EX LIBRIS, makes abundantly and fascinatingly clear.


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“Critic’s Pick. Magnificent...lays bare this complex, glorious organism that is the democratic ideal incarnate... In EX LIBRIS, democracy is alive and in the hands of a forceful advocate and brilliant filmmaker, which helps make this one of the greatest movies of Mr. Wiseman’s extraordinary career and one of his most thrilling.” 
– Manohla Dargis, The New York Times​

“5 STARS. A gloriously nerdy act of municipal pride. Stretching over an impossibly rich three hours and change… the viewing commitment is  the most nourishing of the year. Wiseman’s epic EX LIBRIS might make you cry with happiness. Movies aren’t usually a public benefit, must less an essential one. Here’s the exception.”
– Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York

“Urgent and invigorating. A vision of extraordinary warmth and fellow feeling. A heroic act, insofar as art can be described as ‘heroic.’ Nothing short of emancipatory.”
– Nick Pinkerton, Artforum Online

“A breathtaking work of erudition…The 87-year-old master…is the poet laureate of the staff meeting. Above all EX LIBRIS reaffirms Wiseman as an essential American artist of our time, and, in an era of crumbling institutions and cratering civic awareness, an exemplary observer and thinker.”
– Nicolas Rapold, Film Comment

*****! [5 stars]
“One of the most groundbreaking filmmakers still working. EX LIBRIS has the drive of a vociferous reader checking out and reviewing the maximum number of books their card will allow. Succeeds on multiple levels.”

– Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian (UK)

“Grade A. All of his films are his best films. Hypnotic and thoroughly essential. EX LIBRIS achieves a certain emotional velocity. It will make you awe at the NY Public Library.” 
– David Ehrlich, Indiewire

“Fascinating. A mind-expanding look behind the bookshelves. EX LIBRIS (is) a political statement as well as an exciting adventure of the mind.”
– Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter

– Jason Bailey, Flavorwire

Film Forum