It's not one of Wiseman's most memorable films, nor his most subtle, nor his most timeless, but it is one of his sharpest and most resonant thematic works.
| Original Score: 4/5
"At Berkeley" is an epic watch, but you certainly come out of there feeling like you've learned a lot.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
At Berkeley earns credit for documenting a distinctly articulate community.
| Original Score: 3/4
It's amazing how captivating all four hours are, and I wasn't able to take my eyes off of it.
| Original Score: A-
We can feel our IQ rising in the four hours we spend exploring the kaleidoscope of thought.
The fragility of public education looms in the background of every scene, but, as always, Wiseman proves a wizard at shutting up and listening and learning.
As much as the film observes its diverse participants, it persistently poses smart questions and provocative metaphors through editing.
| Original Score: 10/10
Anyone who cares about documentary filmmaking, or about the state of public higher education, will find themselves quietly dazzled by the picture Wiseman paints here, in small dabs.
The observations coalesce into a cogent whole, providing insights that are never overtly stated.
The patient viewer will come away from it understanding the breadth and importance of what such an academic enterprise does.
| Original Score: B+
No other filmed portrait of higher education matches this one for hard-nosed insight, comprehensiveness, sympathy, and hope.
"At Berkeley" is a must for educators facing the same problems as UCB but only hardcore film buffs, especially documentary fans, would consider taking four-hours of their time to see it.
| Original Score: B
One of the great things about the 83 year-old Frederick Wiseman is that he never approaches a subject like the blind men and the elephant - the director presents us with the whole mammal.
I was going to make a joke about how, after four hours of At Berkeley, I deserved my own honorary degree. But instead of book learning, this movie is more about life learning.
With more space than usual - some of his films run only 80-some minutes, others in the 2 1/2 hour range - [Frederick] Wiseman has time to play more with what he's saying.
"At Berkeley" is the 38th in Mr. Wiseman's series of films about contemporary institutions; as always, he finds symbolic resonance in seemingly random observations.
If you're willing to go where Wiseman takes you, and on his terms, it might feel like a late-career near-masterpiece.
Admittedly a long haul, though it never bores, always invested in teaching dynamics, student concerns, and bureaucratic hand-wringing, triumphantly providing a you-are-there viewing experience.
I wish I could rate this as "frotten" since Wiseman's filmmaking is as adept as ever, even though the politics of the film is hostile to the student movement. I guess that being lionized as a director helps dull the edges.
The film may be uncommonly long, but it dances by playfully... feels almost like a series of short films, all of them wonderful little exercises in eavesdropping.
| Original Score: 9/10