The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, April 19-25

CANAL-ZONE-nyc repertory cinema

Canal Zone (1977)
Directed by Frederick Wiseman
Middle America in miniature encased in a bubble of imperialism, Canal Zone is an unusually bitter, wide-ranging Wiseman. Between glimpses of a high school graduation (a la High School), the languid residents of a psychiatric hospital (Titicut Follies), and a delightful, can-do fashion show (Model), it’s not only the United States that appears to have infiltrated this little space around the Panama Canal, but whole subjects of Wiseman’s previous films. There’s a little bit of everything in the Zone: skateboarding kids, women’s liberation, a seemingly all-black prison. It’s an abundance that lends the film balance and, in turn, a numb, surreal view of normalcy. For in all its overheard talk of family, future, and freedom—in that bicentennial year—Panama and the Panamanians nearly never come up. Wiseman certainly films them—almost always on their own, practically existing in their own, separate world from the Americans. But he’s not the type to put words in people’s mouths. And silence speaks well enough on its own. Jeremy Polacek (April 25, 12:30pm, 6pm at Film Forum’s “The Complete Wiseman: Part 1”)


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