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Cannes, Day 7: "Of Time and the City"

Posted by Ty Burr  May 19, 2008 11:57 AM

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The British filmmaker Terence Davies doesn't come out with new work very often -- he's only made five features in 24 years -- so "Of Time and the City" is something of an event. And even though it runs a brief 72 minutes, this documentary memory play about Davies' hometown of Liverpool is so rich with emotion, nostalgia, clarity, and love that it feels epic. Davies himself narrates over the inspired onrush of historical and archival footage, and his hoarse, whispered cadences have the urgency of the confessional and the scornful humor of the outsider. Hear him sneer delightedly at the ascension of Queen Elizabeth II, aka "the Betty Windsor Show," or mock "the British genius for creating the dismal" over images of post-war housing projects and their awful decay.

"Of Time and the City" (here's the offical website) uses music brilliantly, especially in a section that stitches together a day in post-WWII Liverpool from archival footage and sets to achingly beautiful medieval polyphony (Perotin's "Beata Viscera," to be particular). Note to rockers: Davies could care less about the Beatles. No idea if the film will get picked up for U.S. release, but it's easily the most haunting work I've seen at Cannes. "We love the place we hate, we hate the place we love," Davies narrates. "Come closer now and see your dreams. Come closer now, and see mine."

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1 comments so far...
  1. The liverpool people's spirit is just amazing! I hope they release this movie in the US.

    Posted by Mark January 15, 09 07:17 PM

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