At Berkeley - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

At Berkeley Reviews

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½ August 5, 2014
Four hours long, not a single minute boring, but still too few women talking and teaching, even at Berkeley.
July 31, 2014
What a great school!
January 14, 2014
I'm quick to jump the gun that in terms of objective AND subjective quality "At Berkeley" is the "Tree of Life" of documentaries, but I think it's more analogous to being the "Gravity" of documentaries -- this is arguably the most YOU ARE THERE (i.e., YOU GIVE A SHIT ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENING) account of real-life filmmaking I've ever seen. It's also hands-down one of the most visibly exhausting this side of "Shoah", and doubles as a comprehensive pamphlet (or, clocking in at just over four hours long, more of a field guide, or a brick) without ever towing the line of intellectual-porn propaganda.

Go ahead, roll your eyes at the above and dub it and/or me pretentious. But just because Frederick Wiseman's film is challenging and not Frederick's of Hollywood (LOL had to do it) doesn't mean it should be ignored. Actually, it deserves to be seen by any- and everyone. If ever there was a movie that gets you excited about the prospects of education, "At Berkeley" is it. An unbelievably dense yet picturesque novel-as-film with all the widescreen weight of a coffee table book -- its original 250 hours of footage directed, edited and produced to the nines by the legendary 83-year-old Wiseman -- certain people often (wrongly) forever stick to the ancient adage that "they don't make movies like they used to anymore." Yet with "At Berkeley" at least, that's precisely the sentiment it left me with. (95/100)
January 5, 2014
I will see it as soon as possible as I think his work is terrific.
December 11, 2013
Although long, itthe film is captivating. He gives depth of time to many aspects of university life from provocative class discussion, protests, construction, telegraph ave, administration, those who keep the campus clean, etc. Appreciated every minute, indeed not one talking head...brilliant editing and will watch again when on PBS in January. Glad we went.
½ December 8, 2013
In just over four hours of time, Frederick Wiseman captures the essence of UC Berkeley in the time I attended school there.

Not only does he capture the look and feel of the university, but also the prevailing issues that were in the air in the late years of the Birgeneau administration. To capture a timely profile of a unique university, Wiseman juxtaposes the administrative challenges presented by budget cuts with the myriad social challenges that prevailed within the thoughtful student body at the time. The snippets of various classroom discussions and debate and a profile of recent student protests are the most engaging. He also shuffles in atmospheric, setting establishment shots that actually resemble ones I made in my "C" montage series. Everything is realistic and this documentary presentation is really more of a time capsule record than a hard and heavy statement.

On the other hand the scenes that Wiseman chooses to include are never terribly out there, especially for an alumnus. Absent are revelations like the disturbingly relaxed ahuman pragmatism of the Bridgewater workers in Titicut Follies.

While it is not perfect or for the restless film fan, it stands as a priceless snapshot of UC Berkeley around the time I was attending. I believe it started filming in my second or third year there. I look forward to revisiting it in 10 years for a nice fuzzy feeling. (7 December 2013)
October 31, 2013
I'd like to see this; call me an interested party. But 4 hours?
Super Reviewer
September 9, 2013
The camera work isn't the issue. I hate to be a contrary to the critics but I found the subject matter to be dull and slightly depressing. The scene of some of the most monumental protests of the 60s is now a university like all the rest with the same dull discussions on direction and even dull protesters.
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