Movie review of “In Jackson Heights”: Frederick Wiseman’s latest marathon documentary takes an in-depth look at the citizens of a Queens neighborhood. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
It takes about an hour to catch up with the rhythms of Frederick Wiseman’s latest marathon documentary, “In Jackson Heights,” which uses more than three hours to examine the citizens of a proudly diverse Queens neighborhood.
As usual, Wiseman offers no narration, and no commentary, as he films the interactions of groups and individuals who have plenty to say about where Jackson Heights is going and whether it’s on the right path. Eventually a story line emerges, built around the anniversary of a 1990 gay-bashing murder.
Has the community grown more tolerant in the years since the killing? Is Jackson Heights more accepting of gender diversity than other neighborhoods? Will evictions, franchises, deportations and rising rents change the essential nature of a place many people call home?
Movie Review ★★★
‘In Jackson Heights,’ a documentary by Frederick Wiseman. 190 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (adult content). In English, Spanish and Arabic, with subtitles. Northwest Film Forum, through Thursday.
These are universal questions, and most of them are eloquently presented, though there are exceptions. A priest who scolds his congregation for drug trafficking gets a stony reception. A gossipy, speed-knitting lady who wonders about the sexuality of her favorite movie stars seems straight out of Central Casting.
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How does Wiseman create the reaction shots that tell us so much about how people are responding to this material? Does he have some kind of script in his mind? It may take a village to understand what’s going on here, and maybe that’s his point.