Of Time and the City "Documentary" is too impersonal a word and "visual poem" is too mushy a phrase to describe Of Time and the City , a short, beautiful,… Of Time and the City "Documentary" is too impersonal a word and "visual poem" is too mushy a phrase to describe Of Time and the City , a short, beautiful,… 2009-01-21 Documentary
Movie Review

Of Time and the City (2009)

Pier Review: Grain barge docks in 1969 Liverpool
Image credit: Bernard Fallon
Pier Review: Grain barge docks in 1969 Liverpool
EW's GRADE
A

Details Limited Release: Jan 21, 2009; Genre: Documentary

''Documentary'' is too impersonal a word and ''visual poem'' is too mushy a phrase to describe Of Time and the City, a short, beautiful, characteristically sublime memory piece by the great British auteur Terence Davies. Revisiting favorite themes (of sense of place, of loss, of Catholic and homosexual and cinematic and musical agony and ecstasy), Davies pays sad, funny, sweet, rueful, tender homage to Liverpool, the city of his birth in 1945. (The work received funding as part of the celebration in the hometown of the Beatles of its stint as European Capital of Culture in 2008.)

Davies, who made the breathtaking 2000 adaptation of The House of Mirth starring Gillian Anderson, mixes archival and contemporary images of slums and ships, urban blandness and churchly pomp. He sets his visual collage against a typically exquisite, erudite musical mash-up, from Franz Liszt to ''Hooray for Hollywood.'' And he narrates his own script with words chosen so carefully that the enraptured listener is moved from laughter to tears to a swollen heart. (At one point, he describes the current British monarch and her husband at home as ''Betty and Phil and a thousand flunkies.'') Davies is adored by those who adore him, and clearly I'm one. Why not you too? A

Originally posted Jan 22, 2009 Published in issue #1032-1033 Jan 30, 2009 Order article reprints