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Terence Davies (1945- ), filmmaker and writer, takes us, sometimes obliquely, to his childhood and youth in Liverpool. He's born Catholic and poor; later he rejects religion. He discovers homo-eroticism, and it's tinged with Catholic guilt. Enjoying pop music gives way to a teenage love of Mahler and Wagner. Using archival footage, we take a ferry to a day on the beach. Postwar prosperity brings some positive change, but its concrete architecture is dispiriting. Contemporary colors and sights of children playing may balance out the presence of unemployment and persistent poverty. Davies' narration is a mix of his own reflections and the poems and prose of others. Written by
Terence Davies's documentary "Of Time and the City" should be considered as more of a cinematic poem. This can be a very irritating thing, and Davies does not make it all the way through the film without falling into self-indulgence. However, he does construct a quite beautiful piece of cinema.
This is flawless in areas. Davies's selection of music and images is impeccable, and his voice is a delight to listen to. As a result, a number of sequences are joyous to experience. The slice of the Korean War combined with "He ain't heavy, he's my brother" by The Hollies is my particular favourite. Davies is also, at times, devilishly funny. His description of the coronation of Elizabeth II as the beginning of the "Betty Windsor Show" raised a good laugh from the audience in my screening, and there are many other lines like it.
Davies is at times profound. His own personal writing about his awakening sexuality and the Roman Catholic Church is very interesting and honest. However, as he repeats the formula of poetic monologue leading on to music sequence time after time, he becomes less interesting and more self-indulgent.
Although this is a short film (clocking in at about an hour and a quarter), boredom could prove to be a problem. Nevertheless, this is an impressive and beautiful film. It isn't perfect, nor is it a masterpiece, but it is head and shoulders above many other films and an enjoyable experience.
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