Of Time and the City
- Paul Dale
- 30 October 2008
The great but religiously underfunded British filmmaker Terence Davies (Distant Voices, Still Lives, The Long Day Closes, The House of Mirth) returns to his Liverpool home with this fascinating subjective documentary.
Made and released to coincide with Liverpool's current European Capital of Culture status, Of Time and the City is the unusual fusion of the lyrical and idiosyncratic GPO films of Humphrey Jennings (most noticeably wartime favourites Listen to Britain and A Diary for Timothy) with a low budget modernity familiar in everything from corporate video, archive based documentaries and the short documentaries of the British Free Cinema movement (particularly Lindsay Anderson's 1953 O Dreamland).
It's a brave gambit in a culture bred on celebrity and reality TV, but one that largely works, even if this is a film which will win as many detractors as it will fans. Davies tells his unique story of growing up in wartime Liverpool with all its associated deprivations and freedoms - his longing for a past of Peggy Lee and Doris Day tunes is echoed by a penchant for quoting Chekhov and TS Elliot. Refusing to ever make an easy observation (football and The Beatles are dealt with in derisive terms), the film is both a testament to a troubled life and a troubled city. The elocution of bitter asexuality and urban displacement has rarely been better annotated.
GFT, Glasgow; Cameo, Edinburgh and selected release from Fri 31 Oct.