Films of Frederick Wiseman. Webster University presents a series of films by documentary director Frederick Wiseman. If Wiseman isn't the greatest living American filmmaker (as one recent magazine article boldly claimed), he certainly holds the undisputed title of the cinema's greatest social scientist. Wiseman's films, ranging in length from a lean 85 minutes to day-long marathons, are no-frills cinema verité at its purest, chronicling -- perhaps even dismantling -- the inner workings of social structures and institutions ranging from high schools, boot camps and welfare offices to racetracks and department stores. Though he avoids narrative or offscreen commentary, he's no simple voyeur; carefully editing weeks of footage with an analytical eye, Wiseman's cameras slip through the cracks of their subject matter and penetrate their public images to expose the subtle dynamics of power within. This week features Public Housing, Wiseman's exploration of the Ida B. Wells public housing development in Chicago. Plays at 7 p.m. March 21 at Webster University. (RH)
Steinbeck Film Series. The St. Louis Public Library, in association with the Webster University Film Series, celebrates the 100th anniversary of American novelist John Steinbeck's birth with a series of adaptations of his work. This week features Elia Kazan's take on Steinbeck's East of Eden (1955). The film in which James Dean first showcases his disaffected cool is a wrenching story of two brothers competing for the love of their father. Plays at 7 p.m. March 25 at the Central branch of the St. Louis Public Library, 1415 Olive. NR
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