Located in mid-America, Monrovia, Indiana, (population 1400), founded in 1812, is primarily a farming community. The film is about the day-to-day experiences living and working in Monrovia, with emphasis on community organizations and institutions, religion and daily life in this farming community.
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Another delightful Wiseman film. His reach is wider than in several of his previous works like EX LIBRIS, so the thematic thrust is harder to get a grasp on. One user on Twitter argued it was a portrait of a place "always at an end; death; no future" with lives revolving around "the minutae of park benches." I don't think Wiseman is that cynical and instead, I see a deeply human portrait of tiny, beautiful moments.
Cinema. He is, of course, one of the most fundamental filmmakers of the last 5 decades, but since began filming in digital something was lost in editing, remaining especially a notion of collage between moments than a dialectic of phrases capted by the speed of a eye-spirit. Better than the movies recently filmed in Europe, but still without his previous movements-connections.
In a way, all of Frederick Wiseman's movies that I watched do, but especially MONROVIA, INDIANA plays out like the best Google street view experience you will ever have. One in which you could creep into any building and listen to people's conversations.
Viennale _ It is hard to answer this : what is "Monrovia, Indiana" really about ? Sure it captures with neutral distance the life of a community, in an agricultural region. The film is not as political as expected. Wiseman shows without giving with his editing (his only way to comment) too much clue on his personal take. Interesting for a documentary : we are given the material but we have to actively work it out.
This is real fly on the wall stuff and a fantastic insight into the minutiae of small town rural life in Middle America. Religion plays heavy and we get a really strong sense of what it would be like to live a whole life in one place. The perfunctory placement of a wreath in the final frame perfectly counterpoints the long preceding eulogy. 3.5 stars
It seems as though the filmmakers are tempting us to make judgments here based on the archetypical conservative american totems put on display here (farming, gun shops, motorcycles, rednecks, the heartland, etc.) yet no statement is ever made; This is merely a presentation of people without a perspective or bias. As such, I took it as a challenge not to fall back on prelearned judgments, but to simply watch.
I want my life to be beautiful and small and with purpose. Small town life often feels so repressive and suffocating, but there's something so lovely about fighting to build a bench at a town hall meeting. I wanted to cry.
mixed feelings on this one. the Hoosier, innately close-minded, xenophobic, and self-interested, is portrayed in an unduly flattering light. Wiseman's longstanding belief that the camera doesn't change the way people act is tested here because perhaps what's far more important is what happens off-camera. maybe the best way to enjoy this is by lack of personal familiarity.